Ed Forbes is a Scottish jazz drummer and educator.
Having been drumming for over thirty years he's not quite old enough to have been around in the 1950s but discovered bebop and the drumming of Art Blakey at an early age and has been jazzing it ever since.
Following on from the tradition and inheriting the gene from his grandfather who was a drum major in a Scottish pipe band, he acquired his rudiments from pipe band drumming and subsequently took lessons from acclaimed Scots percussionist and drummer, Andrew Shivas.
Early performing and recording work started with a school band that reached the then TSB Rockschool competition finals as well as some session work with a post punk band. However a lasting obsession with jazz soon took hold and while at university he became heavily immersed in the 1990s London jazz scene. During the 90s he gigged and toured with a jazz quartet and then continued to perform ad hoc gigs by night while focusing on the distraction that was a day job.
Having trained as a lawyer and journalist he spent the late 1990s and noughties working in television as a correspondent and producer before moving back to the legal world specialising in media & intellectual property law and wider commercial law.
In 2014 he took the decision to expand on what he was put on this earth to do namely, jazz drumming and drum practice. He has subsequently become involved in several drumming and music-related collaborations, including workshops for schools and communities.
His drumming style is, as that of those who inspire him, individualistic and heavily influenced by Art Blakey, who along with fellow jazz giants, Max Roach, Elvin Jones & Tony Williams, forged the free and experimental approach that propelled jazz drumming through the 1950s and 1960s to cement the influence and relevance it has today. While firmly rooted in jazz his repertoire does take in funk, breakbeat and hip hop influences and he has, on occasion, been known to play pop. His skills as a player are founded on an ability to listen as much as play, giving space to the other instruments and the music, phrasing, improvising and getting deep down into the groove.
He is happy to support and run workshops for all ages based around drumming such as:
Introduction to drums and drumming - an interactive fun session exploring the history of the drum and rhythm
Holiday workshops - sessions exploring drums and how to play them
Jazz drum workshop - zip up and be prepared for Ed being an 'anorak' as we learn about jazz and jazz drumming
Team building and motivation through drumming
"When my 5 year old son said he wanted to learn the drums, I thought his interest would be brief and frustration would soon get the better of him. But from the very beginning Ed has been the most amazing teacher - he is so patient and enthusiastic, generous with his time, and the most encouraging person I know. Every lesson is a balance of learning and just having fun, without getting hung up on every single mistake. My son has learnt more than I would have thought possible, and just loves his lessons. I cannot recommend Ed highly enough."
Matt E, Salisbury
"Without Ed Forbes we never would have known that our son Gio had a talent for playing drums. This comes in great part due to Ed's unique approach in tutoring, making learning to play the drums easier and more importantly, a lot of fun to do. We would definitely recommend Ed to anyone wanting to learn drum playing in an unconventional way."
Roel & Mary G, Salisbury
"I sent my son to try out drumming with Ed as he'd been learning to play drums for nearly two years and didn't seem to be enjoying them or making much progress. The infectuous enthusiasm and motivation Ed provided totally transformed my son's view of drumming and six months on he now describes himself as a drummer and can't wait for lessons."
Peter G, Salisbury
"My ten-year-old son has been learning drums with Ed for just over two years now in which time we have seen his musical ability rocket and he has amazed us with his sense of rhythm. His love of music has grown and he now listens and sings along to a much wider variety of music. He always enjoys his lessons and I put this down to Ed's patience and enthusiasm. Ed is very approachable and flexible when it comes to tailoring lessons to suit each child."
Christine S, Salisbury
"I like drum lessons because Mr Forbes makes them really fun and you can let out a lot of stress. For example after I had taken my 11+ exam I went and had a lesson and it was the best drum lesson I have ever had because it helped me to let off steam. Mr Forbes also lets you choose the songs you like and teaches you to drum along to them which is really cool!"
James C, age 10
"Ed has been teaching my 12 year old for some time now and I love the way that Ed will change a lesson that he has obviously planned mid way through to listen to a piece of music that uses a certain drum style that my son will recognise. His knowledge of all types of music seems to be massive. My son loves his lessons and has even managed to get me to start lessons too. Ed is a great teacher and made me realise you can learn at any age."
"Ed has been teaching our daughter Bridget for a little over a year now and she can play the drums! He sets thoughtful practice work for her to do at home, and she has been learning from day one. He seems to get the balance just right between teaching the skills and processes needed and just having fun - she loves his lessons and her love of playing drums has grown and grown. He is friendly and personable to people of all ages, and he listens as well as he teaches - he wants his students to enjoy what they're doing, and she certainly does."
Max C, Salisbury
"With Ed's huge experience through years of playing and listening he has a vast musical knowledge across all genres. He has taught our daughter and two sons in his workshops and our son in school. From this our son decided to have private lessons with Ed. From the start we could tell that his style of teaching was great. Ed teaches the importance of drum rudiments and shows students how they fit in with every style of music you want to play. He has also opened up so many more styles for our son to enjoy. We would recommend Ed to anybody of any age who wants to learn to drum."
Mr & Mrs Lovell, Salisbury
"My 10 year old has been having lessons with Ed for over a year and loves it. Ed’s passion for the drums is infectious and his non-prescriptive style of teaching gets the best out of his pupils. He allows my son to choose some of his favourite music to work through in the lessons which holds his attention much more than being presented with things that he can’t engage with, and actively encourages him to improvise and try new things and start to be creative in his own right. For me, this is what learning an instrument should be all about. Thanks Ed!"
Gemma J, Salisbury
4OUR JAZZ QUARTET
Art Blakey, my inspiration and guiding light through my drumming and jazz journey.
I discovered his drumming on a dark and lonely night in my early teens when I suffered badly from insomnia and used to listen to radio through the night. I can't remember the radio station but the aptly named 'So Tired' from the 1960 Night in Tunisia album recording brought jazz into my life and direction to my drumming.
While I also soaked up, admired and was influenced by other jazz drumming greats such as Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Gene Krupa and of course Buddy Rich (whose speed and technical ability quite frankly scared me and still does!) it was Blakey's drumming and understated philosophy that spoke to me. I was fortunate enough to see him lots of times in the 1980s at Ronnie Scotts in London and also on 16 August 1987 at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, where I was able to meet him and take the photograph above (no selfies in those days! this was taken on good old Ilford XP1 camera roll)
Having spent countless hours listening to every Blakey and Jazz Messengers recordings I could lay my hands on and trying to chart the drum patterns for my favourite tracks, I will never match his playing but am deeply grateful for its inspiration and influence on my drumming and life. Those familiar with Blakey and my playing will make the connection.
Moving forward in time and there are so many amazing players and influences out there it is a delight to know that jazz drumming and drumming in general is in good shape and well served by some amazingly talented musicians. It would take up too much room to list out all but here's a selection of some of my favourites: Tony Allen (the master of Afrobeat who has recently released a tribute album to Art Blakey as well as his latest album, The Source), Kimberly Thompson (an amazing artist and multi-instumentalist who - as if her jazz playing were not enough - toured as drummer with Beyonce. Her recent album Treasures Abound is beautifully put together), Nate Smith (groovemeister whose intricate hihat and snare interplay we all aspire to and whose recent Kinfolk album is personal, engaging and groovy), Mark Guiliana (highly gifted and the rhythm section behind David Bowie's final Black Star opus and has released a number of albums but his most recent Jersey album stands out), JoJoMayer (phenomenal technician and experimenter of drums who can nail Buddy Rich like big band drumming on one side but is probably best known for reclaiming acoustic drums back from the drum machine to produce pulsating beats with his band Nerve), Manu Katche (understated and wonderfully musical drummer who held the drum seat for Peter Gabriel and Sting among many others and has recently been touring his new Unstatic album), then we have the undisputed big hitters of the drumming and jazz drumming world such as Vinnie Colaiuta, SheilaE, Cindy Blackman Santana, Terri Lyne Carrington, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Brian Blade, Omar Hakim...and for the other 4oo or so I have missed check out the list on drummerworld.com
Meeting up with Manu Katche at Ronnie Scotts, London,
January 2017, during his Unstatic album tour