About Frank Briggs

 

I am probably best known for my first instructional book/DVD package “The Complete Modern Drum Set,” which has remained in Mel Bay Publications’ top 10 percussion books for the past 27 years. This website was the continuation of that educational project and now a personal space where people can connect with me.

I started playing professionally at age 12 and recorded my first record (45 RPM) at 13. I will back up and cover some of this a little later.

I am fortunate to have worked, in some capacity, either gigging, touring or recording with a host of extremely diverse and talented artists including; Jimmy Haslip (The Yellowjackets, Gino Vannelli) Dean Brown (Marcus Miller, Roberta Flack, Billy Cobham) Philippe Saisse (Steve Winwood, Chaka Khan) Kit Walker (Solo Artist, Neil Schon) Atlantic Starr, Mike Keneally, (Frank Zappai)  Tony/Emmy Award winner Billy Porter (Kinky Boots, Pose) Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck) Engelbert Humperdinck, Swamp Thang, Pat Boone, Frank Gambale (Chick Corea) George Clinton, Tim Pierce (LA Studio) Masters of Reality, Matthew Charles Heulitt (Narada Michael Walden, Zigaboo Modeliste) Frank Macchia (Film Composer, Swamp Thang) AntiGravity, Cirque Du Soleil, Ronnie Lawson, Pete Lockett (Tabla Master) Don Randi (The Wrecking Crew) Loren Gold (The Who, Kenny Loggins) Ryan Quinn (The Voice) William Aura (Solo Artist, Playing For Change) Mariana Ingold, Pamela Polland (Joe Cocker; Mad Dogs & Englishman, Leon Russel) Steve Weingart (Dave Weckl, Simon Phillips) Dennis Hamm (Thundercat, Allan Holdsworth) Ohm, Freddie Fox (Chaka Khan, Atlantic Starr) Lee Thornburg (Tower of Power, Joe Banamassa) Mitchel Forman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mike Stern, John Scofield) Andrew Lane (Producer, Disney) Nick Mancini (vibist extraordinaire) Darek Oles, Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel Show, Sheryl Crow) Jimmy Earl (Chick Corea) Chris Goss, Maxine Nightingale, Alex Isles, Bob Magruder (Voice Over Superstar) Sal Lozano, Hale, Rafael Moreira (Christina Aguilera) and many more.

Albums / Television / Movies

I have appeared on record labels such as; Universal, EMI/Sony, Warner Bros, Reprise, RCA, Tone Center, Immune, Higher Octave, and MTM (Germany) and have composed and edited TV/Radio commercials and underscore for; Disney, Galoob, Micro Machines, PBS, NPR and Deutsch Welle (Germany). TV/Movie appearances/music cues include; Soul Train, Arsenio Hall, Pat Sajak, Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon with Ed McMann, MTV, VH1, Studio Jams, Argentine TV Buenos Aires, Finger Music, Chevrolet, Ikea and Ulysse Films.

Solo Album

In 2008 I released a solo album of 10 original instrumental compositions entitled ‘China Ranch’, China Ranch features some great musicians and consistently received 4 star reviews from publications like Modern Drummer magazine and All About Jazz. You can find it on all streaming services including; Spotify, Apple Music, Emusic, Deezer, Pandora and more. . . have a listen on Spotify [click here].

China Ranch Reviews

About China Ranch
Personnel: Frank Briggs: composer, drums, keyboards, programming; Brian Price: guitar (1-7,9); Kit Walker: Fender Rhodes, synths (1, 3, 7, 8); Steve Weingart: piano, Fender Rhodes, synths (2-4, 6, 9); Ric Fierabracci: bass (1-3, 5, 7, 10); Mitchel Forman: Fender Rhodes, blowtorch, piano (5, 10); Frank Gambale: guitar (10); Mark Doyle: guitar (8); Travis Carlton: bass (4); Chris Golden: bass (6, 8); Jeff Babko: Fender Rhodes, synths (9); Jimmy Earl: bass (9). Rich Breen; mix engineer,

Liner Notes by Jeffrey Davis

Drummer, Composer Frank Briggs is joined by an All-Star group of musical soul mates on his first solo release; a breathtaking collection of compositions that celebrate the power of hope amid adversity. Inspired by a spectacular desert oasis, China Ranch takes us on a journey of musical exploration and virtuosity as expressed by an artist blessed with curiosity, compassion … and serious chops.

China Ranch is a real place, a family owned date farm in the Mojave Desert, not far from Southern Death Valley. But channeled through this music, China Ranch is not merely a destination; it is a journey into the soul, navigated by a performer at the peak of his talents.

Briggs and his amazing bandmates (Steve Weingart, Brian Price, Ric Fierabracci, Mitchel Forman, Kit Walker, Frank Gambale, Jimmy Earl, Jeff Babko, Chris Golden, Jeff Miley, Mark Doyle, Travis Carlton and Michito Sanchez) have pulled off an astonishing feat: The technique is mesmerizing and masterful while also maintaining an emotional truth that makes a cohesive statement.

Supple melodies dance over shape-shifting modes and contrasting instrumental voicings. The players carve deep jazz- and funk-based grooves while playfully displacing beats and inverting expectations around every corner. Driving everything is the deft and explosive pulse created by the composer, producer and engineer of this project.

Musically inventive and as sonically lush as the desert flowers that inspire these tracks, China Ranch is Frank Briggs’ musical thank you note to a locale which proves that even the most barren and forbidding places we know can bear fruit of remarkable sweetness. …

*************************************************************
All Music/iTunes

On China Ranch, Frank Briggs writes a Return To Forever-esque treatment of ten killer tracks that display strong drumming, Rhodes and synths, guitar and bass soloing. The compositions, inspired by a visit to the family-owned date farm in the Mojave Desert, keep an eye on the jazz-rock fusion tradition pioneered by such influences as Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Pat Metheny and others, while still moving the genre forward.

On “Desert Flower” the solos run the gamut from lush, modern electronics and dramatic harmonies to wide-open solo sections for Kit Walker on Synth and Brian Price on guitar. Briggs’ powerful and rhythmic drumming keeps this song musically focused, energetic and shifting freely between the jazz and rock elements.

“Tecopa Moon” may be too hip for the room, as they say, since its laid-back ambience and walking bass lines is an example of how Briggs’ arrangement takes an electronic marvel to another level of melodic excellence. The feel shifts from the very beginning and the tempo ranges from Briggs’ moderately slow drumming and soundscapes to the lightning fast guitar licks of both Price and Jeff Miley.

The title track, “China Ranch” features twists and turns with surprises and a funky groove that will have both the band and their listeners enjoying themselves through this musical ride. The entire recording is beautifully conceived, expertly crafted and is a must for fans of jazz-rock fusion

Paula Edelstein; (All Music Guide)

****************************************************

Strong and melodic. Powerful and introspective. Pure. That pretty much says it all about this album. Frank has covered all the bases with China Ranch. This CD will be appreciated by jazz purists simply for the approach and production and the way in which each piece has been handled with pure artistry. The melodies and traditional-sounding lines found on these various pieces are simply beautiful.

The musicianship is flawless. Why shouldn°t it be? Besides being a world-class drummer, Frank is a gregarious young man. He has enlisted for this project, players that are among the best to be found anywhere. China Ranch is one of those albums that allows the listener the luxury of not having a favorite cut. As you listen to each track you find something very cool about each one that just stays with you. Here is my take on a few of the tunes.

The second selection, °Tecopa Moon° is reminiscent of Billy Cobham’s °Spectrum° L.P. I do not mean that from a plageristic standpoint, not at all. It is just the feel and the attitude with which the piece is delivered that invokes mystery and a dark atmosphere. Very cool.

“Melonie” the third track, is produced in a traditional manner, with pure instrumentation. It begins as a serious piano piece that falls into a really hip, romantic swing carried by pianist Steve Weingart. The tandem melody played by guitar and piano is magical. As this piece moves along there is a beautiful bass solo by Ric Fierabracci followed by a perfectly pure guitar solo provided by Brian Price. The interplay throughout this piece is remarkable. This compostion is one that any serious student of music will appreciate both as a listener and as a piece to study.

The title cut, °China Ranch° is a funky one. Heavy and slightly dark with what I would say is a Miles inspired line. Cool vibes and keys. This one is on the other end of the spectrum from the afore- mentioned °Melonie°. I suggest it be played loud.

Okay, I am going to get a bit heady with this one °Spirit Rider° is aptly named for sure. It is a breathy piece that gives the listener a sense of sailing high above the western landscape and taking in all of the majestic beauty below. It comes back to ground with the rhythm section playing a °Frank Zappa-ish° kind of reggae style melodic line over which there is the perfect compliment of fiery guitar solo performed by Mark Doyle.

So bottom line is this °China Ranch contains 10 remarkable instrumental cuts that you have to hear. It takes you to a lot of different places musically and you will enjoy the trip.

Gary Dean Smith, Lone Lee Radio Show (Boulder CO)

******************************************************************

Regardless of the myriad labels thrust upon it, good music is simply music. With that stated, drummer Frank Briggs’ release, China Ranch, could fit comfortably within many categorizations, its elements including fusion/progressive rock, electronic music, grooveacious funk or contemporary jazz with plenty of creative substance.
A propulsive drummer in the style of Tony Williams, Briggs has been active in the Los Angeles area for a number of years. With this debut he enlists the help of a stellar cast of musicians; some lesser known in addition to recognizable veterans such as guitarist Frank Gambale and keyboardist/composer Kit Walker. With inspiration from a desert hike in China Ranch, a Mojave Desert oasis, the music mirrors Briggs’ experience witnessing the vibrant colors and renewed environment after a desert rain, teeming with new life and positive energy.

The spark is ignited with “Desert Flower,” a fusion up-tempo piece with Kit Walker providing his still strong synthesizer and Fender Rhodes chops, an elastic Jaco Pastorius-like bass solo from Ric Fierabracci, and a torched guitar solo from Brian Price as Briggs commandingly works the kit. His drumming covers a broad range, from thundering backbeats to cymbal finesse on the slow-cooked “Tecopa Moon,” a piece with thick electronics and a hypnotic pulse.

Like a view of the desert terrain, a closer look reveals variety that might otherwise go unnoticed; a picturesque ballad in “Melonie,” neon-lit dance floor persuasions in “Dreams” with its moog-synth bass line, Return To Forever jazz funk-rock on the title piece, and some ‘Weather Reporting’ on “Furnace Creek,” a perfect swirl of electronics and driving beats.

Briggs’ writing admirably balances both melody and progressiveness throughout the recording, including the final track “Saints,” where Mitchel Forman’s piano and keyboards, Gambale’s guitar fireworks and the author’s own tremendous drumming all converge in harmony.

China Ranch is a solid debut that is consistent and filled with memorable tunes and impressive performances that would appeal to a variety of listeners.

Mark F Turner (All About Jazz)

Endorsements

I endorse Istanbul Agop cymbals. I own a 1991 Noble & Cooley Horizon Series and a 1965 Ludwig Club Date drum set that are outfitted with Attack Heads. I play mostly 8A sticks either by Regal Tip or Vater.

Musical Director / Composer

I had a 10-12 year run contractingband leading, music directing, composing and performing for Fortune 500 companies American Express, Toyota, Forest Labs, Roche Diagnostics, GameStop, Disney, SAP, AstraZeneka, Sepracor, Amway, Lunesta, Celexa, Novartis and Eli Lilly – just to name a few. I worked with the biggest event producers in this genre. We performed with Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy, Riverdance, Cirque Du Soleil, The Answer Guys, AntiGravity, Caroline Rhea, Hector Elizondo, Billy Porter, Earth Wind & Fire, Hip Pickles, Bill Nye – The Science Guy, and many others. 

Education / Books / Clinics / Master Classes

I have published 10 instructional books and 2 DVDs on drum set for Mel Bay and Hal Leonard Publications. My educational books and videos have been used worldwide by professional drummers, educators and music schools. I got to travel North and South America giving master classes and clinics on drum set vocabulary and performance. Some of my clinic/masterclass hosts include;  The Collective (NYC), Musicians Institute (Hollywood, CA), Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY), Berklee School of Music (Boston, MA), Emu Educación Musical, (La Plata, Buenos Aires), Red House PAC (Syracuse, NY) and many retail outlets, including Guitar Center (27 locations), Sam Ash, Tom Lee Music (Vancouver, BC), Big Apple Music (New Hartford, NY), The Music Center (Syracuse, NY), House of Guitars (Rochester, NY), Drome Sound (Albany, NY) Music Go Round (Phoenix & Mesa, AZ), Creative Music (Wethersfield, CT), Mackenzie Music (Eugene, OR) DRUMEO,  The University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music (where I subbed for Will Kennedy of The Yellowjackets) and many more. Read some of the TESTIMONIALS from The Drum School.

Press / Reviews

Modern Drummer magazine recognized the Complete Modern Drum Set instructional DVD as one that helped set the standard for the industry and has consistently given my educational books 4 star reviews, and a featured interview.

From Modern Drummer


“LA-based drummer/educator Frank Briggs exposes his jazz-fusion roots on his first solo recording, China Ranch (frankbriggs.com). Briggs displays fat, loose, and powerful Tony Williams–style technique and tone on this outstanding recording. He’s also recently recorded a new release, Circus Of Sound, with OHM, a Southern California–based progressive rock fusion trio featuring former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and bassist Robertino Pagliari.

OHM allows Briggs the freedom to stretch and explore, which he does tastefully and with attitude. A disciple of fusion music, Briggs studied with legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette to help gain insight into this advanced musical art form. “Jack taught me that time was internal,” states Briggs, “that how tightly you hold a stick can change your sound and feel, and that it’s always about the music. After studying with Jack, I wanted to become a great musician, not just a great drummer–there is a difference.

Briggs composed all ten tracks on China Ranch and describes his drumming as supportive. “This recording is all about the music,” he says. “There is plenty of blowing, but in essence, the drums play a supportive and featured role.”

Frank Briggs’ drumming reflects the feel and musicality of a seasoned veteran of electric jazz. His compositional style is highly influenced by his musical idols, which include Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, and Pat Metheny. Regarding his composing, Briggs notes, “I ‘use’ the keyboards for composing but don’t really play. I usually start with chord progressions, and I seldom rely on theory. I sometimes spend months composing a tune.”

Briggs is well versed in many musical styles, and he explains how that aspect has shaped his career: “I think it’s helped me develop my own voice more than anything else,” he says. “I draw from a lot of different sources in music and drumming, which has made me who I am. That approach has certainly advanced my musical ideas.”  -Mike Haid (Modern Drummer Magazine)

 

hit-list

 

Audio Archives

…or stuff I found on my computer. I will explain some of these recordings in my blog.

Random Photo Gallery

Today

I am a native of New York State and settled in Los Angeles in 1988 where I am now retired from gigging and teaching, and managing Rancho Moco our family bed and breakfast in Joshua Tree, California. Btw. I haven’t stopped playing or creating. I look forward to jam nights at Pappy & Harriet’s, and the next chapter.