This is a great shot I got of the young and incredibly talented Miles Arntzen. Miles was only 18 when he attended camp in 2009. Miles grew up in Greenwich Village in NYC and I have no idea how long he had been playing drums by the time he arrived at camp but he was good, I mean REAL good. There were only a few instances throughout the week where I got to jam with him but every time I did, it was a treat. From the first time I heard this cat play, it was obvious that he was hearing something that not everybody else was hearing.
Miles had a bit of a jump-start on the camp curriculum because he had been taking private lessons with Billy Martin prior to camp. Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away from his talent or abilities at all. Since camp 2009, Miles has been studying jazz drumming at NYU as well as playing in his Afro-Cuban Funk band called EMEFE which is gaining in popularity and notoriety around the city. Here’s a video of them playing at the Underground a few months ago.
My favorite memory I have of Miles while at camp is when Steve Bernstein (one of 2009’s special guests) was leading a jam at the performance hall. He was calling people up on stage at random to form groups and leading them through jams and chord progressions. When it was my turn to play bass, Miles got the call to play drums. Steve would create these grooves and then just call out chord changes when the mood struck him and we would all have to make the change instantaneously. In the midst of this experiment, I remember him calling out “B Flat” and everyone made their changes. Steve turned and looked at Miles as he was laying down the groove and said “Now find B flat on your drums, find your B flat.”
Miles started banging his sticks on his cymbals, rims and on the hardware of his drums until he found a tone that rang true with the rest of the tonal instruments playing all around him. A huge smile grew on Steve’s face as he gave Miles a big thumbs up. He got a drummer to play tonally which is no easy task for either the band leader or the drummer himself.
As long as I live, I will not forget that moment. That moment of listening to someone 10 years younger than me do what others might say isn’t possible. It was one of those magical instances that never really seems to fade from memory.
Good luck to Miles as I’m sure he will continue to find success in his musical endeavours. Now for me, it’s time to go practice!