David CriggerBorn September 25, 1954, a 10 year old David Crigger came home from school one day all fired up. He had just experienced one of those “here’s what the different instruments sound and look like” demonstrations that happened that day, and finally convinced his Mom that it was time to start drum lessons. Luckily avoiding the fad at the time of music stores putting kids together to form “Ventures” bands and calling it “music lessons”, David luckily ended up under the tutelage of Jim Eskew – who laid out a great foundation of reading and rudiments (Haskell Harr, Wilcoxon, etc) then onto the rest of the standards, many still in use today – Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer, Stick Control and Syncopation.

Concurrently David was exploring the recordings of the day that appealed to his ear. The basic rhythm training from Jim made figuring out the mysteries of the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five much easier to put together, but by now it was 1966 and things started changing quickly. For 11 year old David, musically those changes came in the form of Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix), Buddy Rich and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), plus, of course, a lot of the other music of day. Not just pop music of the day but many styles, genres and artists – surf music, Stan Kenton, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Henry Mancini, Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis, the Cream, the Doors, Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, Blue Cheer – lots of diverse elements.

Then at age 14, David discovered the music of Don Ellis. Here was the artist that finally tied the whole Jimi Hendrix to Buddy Rich to Carmine Appice thing (as well as everything else) into one big cohesive package – and threw in the exciting concept of odd meters into the mix as well. To this day, David says “The inspiration given to me by Don’s music more than anything else is why I chose to pursue the drums and music as a life’s work”.

By high school, David was pursuing any and every opportunity to play – any kind of music. Concert band, marching band, jazz band, jazz choir, Dixieland bands at retirement homes, and of course, dance/rock bands – particularly at that time, horn bands. Basically self-studying through most of high school, buying records was a ferocious habit – learning records, playing along with records, buying records and trying to play along on first listen – all constant parts of David’s pursuit of developing ears, chops and vocabulary.

Shortly after starting college, through a very fortuitous combination of circumstances and, at least to some degree, being ready, David landed his dream gig, the drum chair with the Don Ellis Orchestra. Beyond his work with Don, with his newly found “reputation”, David started getting calls for other jazz and session work around the LA area. Just like high school, the motto was “take every call” for pretty much anything and everything - with the goal being gaining more experience; and meeting and playing with more players. “By staying at home and keeping my expenses down, I was able to prolong this growth period for a long time with as little distraction regarding making-a-living as possible.” As a result, many of the relationships formed during this period formed the foundation for a lot of his future career.

David’s appearance at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Fesitval led to a meeting with German fusion artist Klaus Doldinger, which led to a stint with his group, Passport. Since that time David has recorded albums with organist Brian Auger, pop sensation Rick Springfield, organist John Novello, and pianist Stu Goldberg. He has performed with the jazz/classical group, Free Flight, the late Latin music master, Willie Bobo, the big bands of Ralph Carmichael, Joe Roccisano and Bruce Lofgren; has been, for many years, the drummer (and often percussionist and occasional music arranger) for the soundtracks of the Disney On Ice touring shows; and has made scores of appearances in concerts, videos, and recordings with legendary songwriter, Burt Bacharach including the 1998 tribute broadcast, "One Amazing Night" with David playing for Burt, Luther Vandross, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Wynnona, Chrissie Hynde, David Sanborn, Dionne Warwick, George Duke, and Mike Myers; as well as various appearances with Burt and Elvis Costello including the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach US/UK tour supporting their collaborative CD "Painted From Memory" and their appearance on Sessions at West 54th Street. This tour lead to David recording Burt and Elvis' remake of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and appearing, performing it with them, in "Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me".

David Crigger

David's reputation as a quick study has also found him in orchestra pits, usually as a sub for shows like "Lion King", "Les Miserables", "'Jerome Robbins' Broadway", "Dreamgirls" and "They're Playing Our Song" – “I’m not sure playing the same show eight times a week for a year is the right thing for me, but subbing? What a rush - like bungee jumping at the drums!”. Same goes, David says, for working on films like "Swing Kids", "The Marrying Man" and "Revenge of the Nerds"; and a few years ago, in front of 13,000 people, doing a concert sitting on the drum throne of the Brian Setzer Rockestra after only one skeleton rehearsal and no sound check!

Long before the onset of drum machines, producer Joey Vieira enlisted David to create a sort of recorded encyclopedia of pop drumming performances for use by songwriters to create demos. The resulting five albums, called "DrumDrops", were quite popular then and, as it turns out, now. The current demand for drum loops as well as a renewed interest in 70's grooves and recording qualities have made the five disks very sought after items. And though it's been seventeen years since the last "DrumDrops" album was recorded, David is still frequently stopped and asked, "Hey! Aren't you the Drum Drops guy?"

In his home recording studio, David has been able to explore musical pursuits beyond drumming. He has composed and performed scores for a dozen educational children's films; and has co-produced albums for fellow drummer Jeanette Wrate, the Bruce Lofgren Jazz Orchestra, avant-garde jazz/poetry group Transvalue, and guitarist Tom Hynes (including tracks of David playing with bassist John Pattitucci and saxophonist, Eric Marienthal). His years of immersion in the recording process (and drumming) have led him to write numerous articles for Electronic Musician, Rhythm, Recording, and Music Technology magazines as well as ten books on MIDI, drum machines and electronic drumming. He has also taught at the Musician's Institute and at the Grove School of Music.

With the release in January of 2008 of “Transvalue Book III”, David is excited to again be part of music that so actively pushes boundaries. “I haven’t been this proud to be involved in a project since my early days with Don Ellis – music that’s challenging, exciting, dramatic, thought provoking, and yet fun and joyful – all at the same time.” David is currently writing and recording new music for an upcoming solo release.

David Crigger first joined the Drummer Cafe community in January 2005.