The Benny Greb story
The story of how and why Benny Greb contacted Joel for a lesson
and the relationship they have today.
"Joel is a rare type of musician. There are people that are gifted, that are lucky enough to discover it early in life and then way less who apply the degree of passion, dedication and work ethic to it as Joel does. That's still not why I love his playing. I get fascinated by his way of making tradition sound fresh, his way of making impossible things seem easy, the way he expresses himself on his instrument. You will definitely hear a lot of this young man in the future. And I can't wait myself." BENNY GREB
LINKS & VIDEOS BELOW
Benny Greb is one of the most respected drummers in the world today. Not only has he headlined nearly every major drum festival and toured with his clinics and drum camps worldwide, but he is also recognized as a composer and bandleader in his own band Moving Parts, which won him the renowned “ECHO Jazz” award - the German equivalent to The Grammys in jazz.
Apart from conducting Drumcamps globally , he published two of the most successful and critically acclaimed educational products,“The Language of Drumming” and “The Art and Science of Groove” and he has helped create many signature products available to drummers today.
I grew up loving and absolutely obsessing with the world famous Benny Greb. I have all his books, his DVDs, albums and would watch YouTube videos hours on end of him playing, either drum clinics or live videos with his band Moving Parts. 'Big fan' wouldn't even cover it!
At aged 20 In 2017 I received a private message on Instagram. I took a look and was blown away to read the name 'Benny Greb'. All it said was "Hey Joel can you send me your email and phone number? I've got to ask you something...". At this point I felt like running round the house like a child at Christmas. I gave him my details and within minuets an unknown number was calling.
Benny said he had seen my playing on some videos from Instagram and YouTube and was a fan of my playing. (At this point I confessed my undying love for the German). He mentioned he has couple of big band shows coming up in the UK within the next couple of months. One of them being the Royal College of Music Big Band featuring Benny and the other being 'The Worlds Greatest Drummer Concert Featuring Benny Greb' with the Pete Cater Big Band in my home town Northampton. Both of which were Buddy Rich themed.
He mentioned he has never had the chance to play with a professional big band before and politely asked if we could meet up to have a lesson on specifically jazz in preparation for the Worlds Greatest Drummer Concert. Which to this day is my greatest honor. I suggested lots of albums to listen to and drummers to check out before his first show in London.
After many phone calls I met Benny for the first time at his first big band concert at RCM London. There was a huge long line of drummers waiting for Benny to come out afterwards to sign their sticks, t shirts, practice pads, body parts etc. He came out to a thunderous applause and went straight for me, picked me up and gave me the biggest hug. (He's 6 foot everything, practically a big friendly giant). We hung out and got to know each other socially in person. We agreed to meet at 9am the next day for the lesson at Bell Percussion Studios in London on the 8th May 2017. We set 2 drum kits up and played together for roughly 5 hours. I can't imagine a better way to spend my Monday playing and hanging with Benny! I showed him what I've practiced over the years and what I was currently practicing at the time. He filmed me playing said practice exercises so he could refer back when in the practice room. We exchanged ideas, knowledge and many laughs. After the session I drove him to his masterclass he was about to teach at BIMM that day. After which, he flew home.
A few weeks later he was back in the UK for The World's Greatest Drummer Concert. (No pressure with a title like that especially when the special guest the previous year was Steve Gadd!) Benny played magnificently. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time routing for him and he played a blinder. I've never seen anyone play the Buddy Rich tunes so originally with their own voice. Benny didn't go down the rabbit hole of trying to learn Buddy's chops and just stayed true to himself and played as if Benny was playing with the Buddy Rich Big Band which I thought was incredible. He checked out everything I mentioned and you could see and hear it in his playing. Not to mention he memorized every single chart and didn't miss a thing! I have spent hours on end playing along to Buddy Rich records and playing them with big bands...he didn't miss a single thing, absolutely nailed it...as he would...he's Benny freaking Greb. After the show I helped him pack down and we sat backstage watching some footage together I took in the stalls. After catching up I drove him to his hotel and said goodbye as he was flying back to Germany the next day.
After that we kept closely in touch ever since. He rang me once a week just to catch up, ask what I've been up to, what gigs I've been doing and just to simply check up on me to make sure I'm generally alright as a close friend would. One time he rang me at 3am UK Time. Told me to get up, grab a pen and paper and prepare to write some notes. He had the urge to call to give me some incredible advice on how to go about achieve my goals and what I need to do and have in place for when I was going to be moving to London. He gave me reassurance.
He told me he believes in me and everything I do and he wanted to help to make sure that it's going to 'happen' for me one day. To this day I receive messages and have face to face scenarios with drummers from round the world who have been to Benny's drum camps telling me that they were all told to check me out online and was spreading good vibes about me and told them all to remember my name to all campers.
He has become not only a mentor, but close friend and an older brother.
Thank you for reading my story on how I met one of the world's greatest human beings, Benny Greb.
THE BIG BAND CONCERT!!!