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Jack White’s Outstanding Drummer is from Alabama

By on April 19, 2021 0

Courtesy of David Swanson

Carla Azar gets your heart pounding, strutting and blowing up to one of the craziest and most thrilling albums of this year.

A graduate of Grissom High School in Huntsville, Azar played drums on five of the 13 tracks on rocker Jack White’s “Boarding House Reach” LP. The former White Stripes singer’s third solo studio album was released on March 23.

Azar has also appeared on White’s two previous solo records, “Lazaretto” in 2014 and “Blunderbuss” in 2012, as well as touring as a member of The Peacocks, the all-female backing band with whom White has performed. earlier in his solo career. During this time, White also toured with an all-male combo called The Buzzards, deciding which band would support him on the morning of each show.

A longtime Los Angeles resident, Azar is now part of White’s “Boarding House Reach” tour group.

By Matt Wake | [email protected]

Courtesy of David Swanson

The trek that accompanies the album begins April 19 in White’s hometown of Detroit at Little Caesars Arena. (For the past several years, White has resided in the Nashville area, where his vinyl label Third Man Records is based.) White, with Azar on drums, has three planned tour stops in the South so far. East: The Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, May 4, the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis on May 5, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 6. Unfortunately, there are no shows in Alabama on the itinerary at this time.

The songs on “Boarding House Reach” that Azar drums on include some of the more distant moments of a decidedly (and successfully) distant album. Overall, the LP finds White, a bluesy bluesy guy, latest guitar hero, playing more modern-sounding music than any reasonable fan might have expected.

For example, the fifth track “Hypermisophoniac”, with Azar on drums, looks like a Captain Beefheart digital collage.

Another track, “Ice Station Zebra”, for which Azar is credited with “additional electronic and acoustic drums” (White also plays electronic and acoustic drums on the track), is Rage Against The Machine-inspired rap-rock.

Azar plays electronic drums on “Respect Commander”, which goes from art-surf to avant-blues and back again. Louis Cato, a New York drummer whose previous credits include Beyonce and Mariah Carey, also contributes electronic drums on “Respect Commander” and appears on several other tracks on “Boarding House Reach”.

“Get in the Mind Shaft”, with Azar who manages the electronic and acoustic drums, opens with an intro of atmospheric lyrics before transforming into future-funk, completed by White’s vocoders.

The electro-country ballad “What’s Done Is Done” also features Azar on electronic and acoustic drums. “Boarding House Reach” was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, Sear Sound in New York and White’s Third Man Studio in Nashville.

White has a long history of working with female musicians, including: drummer / ex-wife Meg White in The White Stripes; produce country legend Loretta Lynn’s album “Van Lear Rose” in 2004; and the recording of the 2008 James Bond theme “Another Way to Die” with R&B star Alicia Keys.

On Jack White’s previous solo albums, Azar can be heard on numbers such as the metallic “Sixteen Saltines” and the honky-tonk raver “Just One Drink”.

In addition to recording and performing with White, Azar also leads his own group, the Los Angeles-based experimental rockers Autolux. Azar previously worked with alternative music icon PJ Harvey. Earlier in her career, she performed with Ednaswap, the alternative band whose song “Torn” by Australian singer / superfox Natalie Imbruglia later covered to huge success in 1997. Azar also played drums on the first eponymous 1987 album from the proteges of Prince Wendy and Lisa.

She even starred in Michael Fassbender’s 2014 film “Frank” as Nana, the drummer for the main character’s group wearing a Fassbender mask.

Courtesy of David Swanson

As a drummer, Azar balances cool jazz with the thunder of rock.

In a live setting with White, his kit is set up to the right of the stage, not in the more traditional center-back location.

In an interview circa 2011 with Tom Tom Magazine, a post dedicated to drummers, when asked about his favorite drummers, Azar, quoted John Bonham, Keith Moon, Clyde Stubblefield (known for his work with James Brown), Jaki Liebezeit of Can, Stephen Morris of Joy Division and the god of jazz Elvin Jones.

Courtesy of David Swanson

While at Grissom High School, the raven-haired Azar was part of a drumming band that also included musicians who would work with (either as full members or as touring musicians) the successful band of the years 90 Brother Cane, southern rockers Atlanta Rhythm Section (guitarist Dave Anderson) and influential punk band X (multi-instrumentalist Michael Kilpatrick).

In California, Carla Azar befriended the late and great ethereal singer / songwriter Jeff Buckley, best known for his 1994 instant classic album “Grace”. Azar and Buckley were classmates at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and teammates in a band called Insouciant Inbreds, before Buckley’s Columbia Records period. Azar co-wrote the transcendent epic “What Will You Say”, which appeared on Buckley’s 2000 posthumous live album, “Mystery White Boy”.

In author Jeff Apter’s 2009 biography “A Pure Drop: The Life of Jeff Buckley,” Buckley’s friend Chris Dowd claims Buckley’s unrequited love for Azar inspired the singer’s signature song. , the thorny “Last Goodbye”. If this is indeed true, Carla Azar is not only an outstanding musician who has performed on some of the most memorable rock records and tours of this decade – she is also, quite literally, a beautiful song.

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