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Jojo Mayer

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Drummer Jojo Mayer was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 18, 1963. His father was bass player Vali Mayer, who brought him on tour in Europe and eastern Asia during much of his early childhood. Naturally, the musical environment rubbed off on him; he received his first drum set at age two and made his performing debut in Hong Kong just a year later. At 18 years old, he joined pianist Monty Alexander's group, which afforded him the opportunity to play the most prestigious jazz festivals in Europe, and also led to backup gigs with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone. He relocated to New York City in 1991, and over the next few years he played and recorded with more experimental projects like the Intergalactic Maiden Ballet, the Screaming Headless Torsos, and John Medeski (Lunar Crush, a collaboration with the Torsos' David Fiuczynski), among others. By the mid-'90s, he was also becoming a regular at drum clinics around North America and Europe. As he became more involved in downtown New York's avant-garde scene, Mayer grew increasingly interested in experimental funk and electronica. He played with Me'Shell NdegéOcello, James Blood Ulmer, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Vernon Reid, and DJ Spooky, in addition to his post-bop jazz commitments. He also founded Nerve, a project that integrated electronic beats with live drums and improvisation; Nerve performed at a weekly club event dubbed Prohibited Beatz, which also featured DJs spinning drum'n'bass, U.K. speed garage, and jazzy breakbeats. In the meantime, Mayer recorded with Olga Konkova, Domenico Ferrari, Harry Sokal, Sulfur, and electronica group Echo, among others. ~ Steve Huey

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18 January 1963 in Zurich, Switzerland

Years Active:

'90s, '00s