Adam Cruz Finds Common Threads in the Rhythms

“If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to start off by playing a little to get a feel for the tuning of the room.”

Adam Cruz

Adam Cruz is an American drummer, composer, and educator, born in NYC, who has played alongside Tom Harrell, the Mingus Big Band, Joey Calderazzo, Chris Potter, Steve Wilson, Edward Simon, and is an integral part of the Danilo Perez Trio.  Recently, he visited Berklee to conduct a drum clinic.   It’s one of Berklee’s perks as a staff member.  Cruz may be known as a jazz drummer, but he’s well-versed in many styles.  And, it shows.  His playing isn’t limited to a particular style or genre.  “There’s a propulsion in music and that is what I’m drawn to,” says Cruz.  “Knowing styles is part of the process.  You focus on the particulars of a style, and then make it your own.”

Growing up, his father taught him to listen to music “democratically”.   He introduced his son to all forms of music from Miles Davis to Art Blakey, so the influences were all around.  But, in these stylistically diverse rhythms Cruz has come to find common threads because the African heritage in these rhythmic traditions crosses over to the drum set.  He gave a great example of a common beat played on the bata drums, a Cuban instrument, which can be found in the swing beat on the drum set.

As a drummer, Cruz tries to be open with rhythms and keep them neutral.  Within a straight 4/4 straight beat he combined a 6/8 clave beat, and the rhythm felt natural; it wasn’t competing.  Being open and  neutral allows possibility in your beat and helps drummers “make music groove.”  And, how did he come to develop this appreciation for a combination of rhythms to fit and groove?

Through extensive listening. 
Listen to what moves you.  What inspires you.  Because it is so personal. 

Cruz is coming back to town next weekend.  You can see him play with the Danilo Perez trio.  They come to Sculler’s Jazz Club to play four shows, Saturday (2/15) and Sunday (2/16).


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