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Lyttle Drummer Boy
He’s one of Ireland’s leading jazz drummers, a prodigy who picked up his first instrument aged four. David Lyttle tells us what to expect from his Music Show workshop.
Colm O Hare, 09 Feb 2012
From a well-known Co. Armagh musical family, David Lyttle is an acclaimed drummer/composer/producer, operating mainly in the jazz and urban worlds. Though mainly known and widely praised for his drumming prowess, he plays keyboards, bass and drums, as well as performing vocal duties on his most recent album, Interlude. Collaborators include rapper/saxophonist Soweto Kinch, rapper/vocalist Homecut and Brooklyn rapper iLLspokinN. The album also features some serious session A-listers including Jason Rebello (Sting), Pino Palladino (Adele, D’Angelo, The Who), Michael Buckley (Donovan, Jerry Lee Lewis), Keith Duffy (The Corrs, Ronan Keating) and Linley Hamilton (Van Morrison).
Lyttle began performing professionally at age four in his family’s folk group, playing bongos, bodhrán and a mini Lambeg drum. A few years later he added uileann and lowland pipes as well as learning cello. At age eight he got his first drum-kit and there was no turning back.
“It was all pretty casual at the time,” he recalls. “I was still getting tuition on the cello but I would go in and out of phases of playing different instruments. I think even then I liked playing drums more than anything else.”
Given his background and training, he was always destined for a career in music and at around 18 he decided that drums would be his main instrument of choice. Despite being at an age where he might have been drawn towards rock ‘n’ roll, he favoured jazz instead, as he explains.
“I just liked the way the drums sounded within jazz music,” he says. “There was a lot of flexibility and much more space; it was more of a musical conversation, if you like. I’d been in a few rock type bands when I was a teenager. It didn’t do much for me. In rock it’s mainly about holding down the beat, which is not to diss any rock players out there, most of whom are very good. It’s just that in jazz I liked the role of the drummer within
It was the playing of the legendary drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers that first inspired Lyttle in a big way.