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Michael Waldrop (musician)

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Michael Van Waldrop
Birth nameMichael Van Waldrop
Also known asMike Waldrop
Born (1961-10-02) October 2, 1961 (age 57)
Pensacola, Florida, United States
OriginIthaca, New York, United States
Big band
Symphonic jazz
Occupation(s)Percussionist, Composer, Music Producer, Educator
InstrumentsDrums, Percussion, Vibraphone and Piano
Years active1979–present
Associated actsOne O'Clock Lab Band
Jazz Orchestra of the Delta
Michael Waldrop Big Band
Jimi Tunnell

Michael Waldrop (Née Michael Van Waldrop, October 1, 1961) is an American drummer, percussionist, composer and music educator. He is notable as a virtuoso percussionist in both jazz and classical idioms; with equal focus on drumset and keyboard percussion (marimba/vibraphone).[1] Since 2014 he has been a recording artist for Origin Records.[2]

Early life, musical education and influences[edit]

Atlanta, Ithaca and University of North Texas[edit]


Waldrop grew up in Atlanta, Georgia listening to the radio and popular music as child; he was especially taken by English rock and American soul music from Memphis (Stax) and Detroit (Motown).[3] He showed an aptitude for drumming along with the music which lead to parents purchasing him a small drumset at age 4.[4] Waldrop's musical education progressed rapidly when he moved from the Atlanta area to Ithaca, New York in 1970. In 1974 at the age of 13 he heard and met Buddy Rich through his mother interviewing the famous drummer for the Ithaca Journal. Rich made a tremendous impression on Waldrop at that time.[3] His first formal teacher was Richard Lajza who provided a thorough foundation in classical and rudimental snare drum playing. Waldrop studied privately with with Ithaca College percussion professors Bill Youhass and Gordon Stout.[3] During his time with Stout in Ithaca, Waldrop become enamored with the marimba and vibraphone, an attribution to his virtuoso level on those instruments. He started playing professionally on drum set in upstate New York by the age of 17 and performing with fusion guitarist David Torn at 18.

After graduating high school in Ithaca, New York Waldrop was accepted to the University of North Texas College of Music.

 During his baccalaureate degree in Denton, Texas Waldrop studied with teachers including Robert Schietroma, Ron Fink, Ed Soph, Henry Okstel, Kal Cherry, Michael Carney, and Gregg Bissonette.[3] He performed with notable jazz artists such as Dan Haerle, Michael Cain, Bob Belden and Jay Saunders. 

After completing his undergraduate work at UNT, Waldrop returned to the New York area and performed extensively. He played in Caprice Fox’s group for almost a year and freelanced with a long list of other groups. At this time Waldrop was to make an important and long lasting connection with guitarist Jimi Tunnell who later rose to prominence with the group Steps Ahead.[3]

Professional career[edit]

Memphis, Chicago, international touring[edit]

In 1987 Waldrop accepted a fellowship to work on a Master’s degree in jazz performance at the University of Memphis. Waldrop gained much greater jazz keyboard and composition skills studying with jazz pianist Gene Rush during that time in Memphis. In the Mid-South he performed with Phineas Newborn, Della Reese, Frank Gambale, Eliane Elias, Randy Brecker, Kathy Kosins and Marvin Stamm. In 1989 Waldrop recorded on the soundtrack to the movie Christmas Vacation. During this time he also studied with drummer Keith Copeland.[3] Waldrop was later invited to teach jazz percussion and jazz theory at the University of Memphis in 1997. He maintains a close association with musicians in Memphis and continues to perform and record with the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta. He continues a close musical relationship with composer/arranger Jack Cooper.

After completion of his master's degree 
In 1990 Waldrop relocated to Chicago and worked strictly as a performer in the Chicago metropolitan area and playing on ads for the likes of Pillsbury and others companies. He performed with a long list of prominent jazz artists in Chicago to which included saxophonist Mike Smith and jazz violinist Johnny Frigo. In early 1992 Waldrop accepted a position with the international touring company of 42nd Street. He spent much of 1992 and 1993 performing in Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands with that show.

Professional work since 1993[edit]

Waldrop accepted a Doctoral fellowship to the University of North Texas College of Music in 1993 and completed the coursework for the Doctor of Musical Arts in 1996; the degree was completed in 1999 with a focus on marimba.[5] During Waldrop's second tenure in Denton, Texas he played, toured and recorded with the Grammy nominated UNT One O'Clock Lab Band. He can be heard on the recordings Lab 94, Standard Time and Fifty Years.

Since 1993 Waldrop has performed on drum set and multiple percussion instruments with a lengthy roster of artists including Jon Hendricks, Tim Ries, Rich Perry, Greg Gisbert and Wayne Horvitz. In 1999 he toured the Middle East with internationally acclaimed composer Kamran Ince. From 1999-2004, while in Colorado, he was Principal Percussionist with the Grand Junction Symphony as well as director of the Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra.[1] From 2006-2009 he served as the drummer for the Bob Curnow Big Band; Waldrop's drumming is heard on the Curnow's critically acclaimed CD The Music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays - Volume II.[6] Waldrop currently works extensively in the Northwest region of United States as both a commercial, classical and jazz artist.[7][8][9]

Origin Records recording artist[edit]

Since 2014 Waldrop has been a recording artist for Origin Records. Most notable are his two CD’s with Origin entitled Time Within Itself and Origin Suite.[10] Both recordings have been reviewed internationally in Down Beat, Jazz Journal, the IAJRC Journal as well as many other periodicals; both were fixtures on the JazzWeek radio airplay charts in 2015 and in 2018.[11][12] Waldrop displays both his drum set playing and adeptness with the vibraphone on the two releases.[10] Future releases are planned with Origin to include a release on the Original Classical label to specifically feature Waldrop's mallet percussion artistry.

Time Within Itself[edit]

The Time Within Itself CD was premiered in Memphis, Tennessee on March 7, 2015 by the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta.[10] The album had its Northwest U.S. premiere on July 27, 2015 at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle, Washington with the Northwest version of the Michael Waldrop Big Band.[13] The album was also performed at the Jazz Education Network International Conference in Louisville, Kentucky on January 9, 2016 which included guest artists Brad Dutz and Billy Hulting.[14] The music from the Time Within Itself CD has acquired significant international recognition to include other groups playing the music.[4] The Swingin' Paradise Jazz Orchestra in Tokyo, Japan performed Tunnell Vision on July 18, 2016 at Musasino Big Band Jazz Festival.[15]

Drumhead Magazine published a two part feature of transcribed solos and drum parts from the Time Within Itself CD starting with the June 2015 (#50) edition.[16] Origin Records submitted the Time Within itself CD into the first round ballot of the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for the categories of Best Arrangement Instrumental or a Cappella, Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and Best Instrumental Composition.

Origin Suite[edit]

Unlike Time Within Itself, the Origin Suite project was conceived by Michael Waldrop to be far more fusion jazz oriented and much less "big band."[17] Notable music reviewer Brian Morton gave Origin Suite 4 of 5 stars in his Jazz Journal review (U.K.). Morton writes, "...It's remarkable how seamless and entire it all sounds. A very impressive project and one to shelve among the keepers, alongside Waldrop's fine earlier Time Within Itself."[18]. Origin Records submitted the Time Within itself CD into the first round ballot of the 61st Annual Grammy Awards for the categories of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Album Engineering.

Teaching and education career[edit]

Michael Waldrop has been teaching at the collegiate level for over the past 20 years. From 1999 to 2004 he held a full time teaching position at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. 
In 2004 Waldrop accepted a position as Professor of Percussion at the University of Toledo and was there until 2006. Since 2006 Waldrop has held the position of Director of Percussion Studies at Eastern Washington University. He has served as an invited clinician and guest artist throughout the United States. Waldrop is an educational clinician/artist for Yamaha and the Vic Firth Company making appearances at state educational music conventions throughout the United States.[4] His compositions are published by Drop6 Media through Row-loff Publishing.[19]

Timeline of professional/musical career[edit]

<timeline> ImageSize = width:1000 height:200 PlotArea = left:150 bottom:120 top:0 right:14 Alignbars = justify DateFormat = dd/mm/yyyy Period = from:01/01/1978 till:31/12/2017 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal format:yyyy Legend = orientation:vertical position:bottom columns:4 ScaleMajor = increment:2 start:1978 ScaleMinor = increment:1 start:1978

Colors =

 id:in    value:yellow     legend:Ithaca NY
 id:ny    value:purple     legend:New York
 id:tx    value:green      legend:Denton Texas
 id:ci    value:pink       legend:Chicago Ill
 id:mem   value:blue       legend:Memphis Tennessee
 id:gj    value:red        legend:Grand Junction
 id:to    value:orange     legend:Toledo Ohio
 id:sw    value:claret      legend:Spokane WA

LineData =

at:01/01/1981 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/1986 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/1991 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/1996 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/2001 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/2005 color:black layer:back
at:01/01/2011 color:black layer:back
at:01/09/2016 color:black layer:back
at:31/12/2017 color:black layer:back

PlotData =

 width:11 textcolor:black align:left anchor:from shift:(10,–4)
 bar:Ithaca N.Y.                from:01/10/1978     till: 01/10/1979 color:in
 bar:Denton Texas               from:01/10/1979     till: 01/10/1984 color:tx
 bar:New York                   from:01/10/1984     till: 08/10/1987 color:ny
 bar:Memphis Tennessee          from:08/10/1987     till: 08/10/1990 color:mem
 bar:Chicago Ill                from:08/10/1990     till: 01/06/1993 color:ci
 bar:Denton Texas               from:01/06/1993     till: 01/06/1997 color:tx
 bar:Memphis Tennessee          from:01/08/1997     till: 01/06/1999 color:mem
 bar:Grand Junction             from:01/08/1999     till: 01/06/2004 color:gj  
 bar:Toledo OH                  from:01/06/2004     till: 01/06/2006 color:to
 bar:Spokane WA                 from:01/06/2006     till: end color:sw 

Select discography[edit]

As leader or featured artist[edit]

As sideman or composer[edit]

Film, television, media[edit]

As instrumentalist[edit]

Artists worked with (partial list)[edit]

Discography (reviewed)[edit]

Year Album Primary artist
Type Label U.S. Netherlands U.K. Poland Review
2010 The Chamber Wind Music of Jack Cooper instrumentalist Studio recording Centaur Fanfare Magazine
very positive
2015 Time Within Itself Primary artist
Studio recording Origin Records JazzWeek
April 13, 2015
Jazz Journal
4/5 stars
Multikulti Project
4.5/5 stars[21]
All About Jazz
4.5/5 stars
2018 Origin Suite Primary artist
Studio recording Origin Records JazzWeek
February 26, 2018
Highly favorable
Jazz Journal
4/5 stars
All About Jazz
4/5 stars

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Sixth Chakra” by Michael Waldrop. Performed by Michael Waldrop on Marimba, 2012. Vic Firth artist site for Michael Waldrop
  2. Michael Waldrop, musical artist at Origin Records
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sargsyan, Simon. "Interview with Michael Waldrop: Jazz has made a terrible mistake by cultivating an elitist mentality". JassBluesNews.Space. Feb. 11, 2018
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hartley, Meredith. "Episode 24: Time Within Itself – Interview with Dr. Michael Waldrop" Hidden History of Business Podcast. January 8, 2016
  5. Van Waldrop, Michael. "Alec Wilder's Music for Marimba". Dissertation. University of North Texas. May 1999
  6. Bowers, Jack. "Bob Lark Alumni Band, Bob Curnow, JazzMN Big Band" All About Jazz. May 8, 2012
  7. Johnson, Donivan. "A theatrical benefit." The Spokesman-Review, Spokane WA. Fri., Nov. 30, 2012 - Michael Waldrop percussionist
  8. Seattle Jazz Scene, Michael Waldrop Big Band CD release at Tula's Jazz Club, July 27, 2015
  9. Avista: 2016 Way To Save, television ad campaign for Avista Energy, Michael Waldrop featured on mallets
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Richens, Mark. "Michael Waldrop to premiere new album, ˜Time Within Itself, for University of Memphis Jazz Week". The Commercial Appeal. March, 4, 2015
  11. JazzWeek Radio airplay for Michael Waldrop CD "Time Within Itself"
  12. JazzWeek Radio airplay for Michael Waldrop CD "Origin Suite"
  13. Michael Waldrop big band at Tula's Jazz Club July 27, 2015
  14. Michael Waldrop Big Band, Saturday 1/9/16, 2:00 PM - 2:50 PM, JEN Conference, Inspirations Stage
  15. Tunnell Vision on July 18, 2016 at Musasino Big Band Jazz Festival.
  16. Drumhead Magazine, June 2015, #50
  17. Informational video for Origin Suite, Feb 26, 2018
  18. Morton, Brian. Review of Origin Suite. Jazz Journal. April 2018
  19. Linear Construction (Continuity/Fractals), Drop6/Row-Loff Production, composed by Michael Waldrop
  20. Origin Suite, Origin Records web site
  21. Multikulti Project (blog, record reviews), Time Within Itself/jazz review, Fikus, Andrew. Sunday, September 13, 2015

External links[edit]

Others articles of the Topic Biography : Boguslaw Wozniak, Bedřich Smetana, Pierre-Louis Boitel, Süreyyya Evren, Tom Milton, Moustafa Nouraldeen, Robert Burr Smith

Others articles of the Topic music : Tarquini & Prevale, Carlo Prevale

Category:Living people Category:1961 births Category:University of Memphis alumni Category:American jazz bandleaders Category:Big band bandleaders Category:American jazz composers Category:American jazz educators Category:University of North Texas alumni Category:People from Ithaca, New York

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