Paul Hart – my father: one of the most extraordinary musicians of our time. He is an astonishingly technically skilled composer, yet this is almost made superfluous by his innate understanding of music and prodigious musical ear. He is an exceptional jazz violinist and great bass guitar player, but no-one can play the piano quite like my dad. Some of my earliest musical memories are of hearing him play the grand piano. The magic and awe that this music sparked off within me was not just childlike fascination, but the effect of the perfect synthesis of touch, expression and deep musical insight belonging only in the realms of genius. The further I travel down the road of music, the further away I realise he is. Therefore, he is a figure to which I will always strive to aspire and is a constant source of inspiration.
Cathy Giles – my mother: she has also been a huge musical influence. Her beautiful soaring tone on the cello was something I heard in my subconscious even before birth! Her playing can be unflinchingly fiery and vigorous yet equally graceful and enchanting as the musical context demands. A regular diet of pieces such as the unaccompanied Bach Suites, Elgar’s cello concerto and Boccherini’s A major cello sonata used to feature regularly in her practice sessions. Also she often played Rachmaninoff’s Prélude No. 23 in G sharp minor on the piano which stirs up all kinds of memories. She taught me about the discipline of practising and guided my musical taste by osmosis with her diverse musical appreciation. She has always had the answers to my endless musical queries about theory, notation and musical terminology.
Bob Armstrong – my second main drum teacher and the most influential of them all. He not only gave me the means to play many things that were previously beyond my powers but also taught me the importance of discipline, integrity and professionalism.
Chick Corea – mainly The Mad Hatter trilogy (also including My Spanish Heart and The Leprechaun), the Elektric Band albums, Return to Forever, Three Quartets, the Akoustic Band, Children’s Songs and Friends.
Steve Gadd – his work with Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Stanley Clarke and also his tuition videos.
Mahavishnu Orchestra – I feel that this group has a unity of expression that is unrivalled. I love Billy Cobham’s and Narada Michael Walden’s drumming! My favourite albums are Visions of the Emerald Beyond and Birds of Fire.
Chris Dagley – Chris Dagley was one of my idols when I was starting out. There was a certain quality to his drumming that I will always be reaching for. His absolute conviction, assurance and command behind the instrument was truly awe inspiring. He is and will always be in my thoughts.
Tony Williams – with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke.
Martin France – in my opinion he is a complete original both in sound and concept – no mean feat amidst the throng of gifted drummers out there! The idiosyncratic way he is able to manipulate time is still a mystery to me.
Steps Ahead – Magnetic and Modern Times – I love the work of Michael Brecker and Peter Erskine on these records.
Weather Report – Heavy Weather, Black Market and Mysterious Traveller.
Jaco Pastorius – Jaco Pastorius and Word of Mouth.
Stanley Clarke – Stanley Clarke.
Pat Metheny Group – albums by this group were frequently on in the house when I was a child. I love Still Life (Talking), Offramp, We Live Here and loads more.
Lyle Mays – Lyle Mays and Street Dreams.
Mark Mondesir – an absolute one of a kind musician. I’ve never experienced anything quite like listening to Mark Mondesir on a live gig!
Miles Davis – Miles Smiles, Kind of Blue, 1964 Concert, Milestones and many more.
Dave Weckl – his work with the Chick Corea Elektric Band and some of his solo records such as Master Plan, Heads Up and Hard-Wired. Also his tuition videos Back to Basics and The Next Step.
John Coltrane – With Miles Davis and also Giant Steps and Coltrane (on impulse) among others. As well as his music, I draw inspiration from his singular dedication to his art.
Steely Dan – again, Steely Dan albums were played at home a lot when I was a kid. My favourites are Gold, Katy Lied, Gaucho, Aja, Pretzel Logic, Two Against Nature and The Royal Scam. (Also Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly)
Joni Mitchell – The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira.
Pantera – Vinnie Paul’s drumming with this group has long been a great source of inspiration and pleasure. I like Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven and Reinventing the Steel.
Gary Husband – one of the great British drummers (and pianists for that matter) extant. His infectious passion for music is palpable and his leonine relationship to the drum kit excites me.
Michael Brecker – with Chick Corea, The Brecker Brothers and Steps Ahead. Also Michael Brecker, Tales from the Hudson and Two Blocks from the Edge.