Damon Short is an excellent Chicago-based drummer, bandleader and composer who has been active in the Chicago area for more than 20 years. Here is an interview with Damon.
Note: This is being revised, check back soon for an updated version...
How did you first get interested in the arts?
Damon Short: I've wanted to play drums for as long as I can remember. When I was around 4 I'd take some Tinkertoy sticks and bang on the empty can in a tile-lined bathroom. Aside from being banished there by my parents because of the noise, it had a great echo effect. There were a few classical records around the house and my older brother was into early jazz when he was pretty young himself, so it was always around.
What is an early memory you have of doing something in the arts?
Damon Short: I played a drum set solo in 6th grade at a school event. It'd be funny to hear that now, but they didn't have YouTube back then.
Who are some of your influences?
Damon Short: I was fortunate to discover the progression of jazz in pretty much chronological order - most people encounter it at one period or another - bebop, the 60s, fusion, 'free' (dumb term), etc. - and work their way in either/both directions if they work their way at all. So I was aware of Gene Krupa & Jo Jones before I 'discovered' Max Roach, for example. So all of it informs what I do with my own music. Seeing Elvin Jones in person changed my entire approach to drumming; seeing Cecil Taylor changed my approach to music in general. As a composer... most of my pieces tend to reflect Mingus probably, but I'm certainly 'influenced' by Ellington, Braxton, Shorter, Gil Evans (who's truly a composer even if he's considered an 'arranger'), Harry Partch, Messiaen, Boulez, Bartok, Stravinsky, sometimes even Mahler.
photo credit: Kathy Short
What other projects have you been working on?
Damon Short: I've been doing a trio with trombonist Michael Vlatkovich (LA) and Jonathan Golove (cello). Vlat is a prolific composer and monster player; Jonathan is a terrific 'classical' player and composer in his own right, and a very creative improviser, which is a rare combination. The 'Tryyo' is playing Michael's music but there's plenty of room for each of us to transform the written material. I've also been playing in different groups directed by Paul Hartsaw (when he's not playing in my Quintet). Paul has great ideas and is also a formidable player. I enjoy all of these situations where I can be 'just the drummer'.