Drum Wunderkind Andrew Atkinson Performs at Van Dyke Cafe Tonight

Drummers sometimes get a bad rap, especially from comedians, for whatever reason. But I've been in bands and I know what an excruciating pain in the ass it is for drummers to 1) lug in their equipment often with little or no help, 2) keep that rhythm going regardless of missed vocal entries and/or drunken guitar fingers, and 3) hear that their job in the band is the "easiest."

So let's look at this list of exception artists evaluate the drummer as true musician: Gene Krupa, Chico Hamilton, Alex Acuña (Weather Report), David Francis (Roy Eldridge Orchestra), and Ginger Baker amongst others. Try making a joke about those guys.

Tonight's intimate engagement Upstairs at the Van Dyke will offer similar rhythmic prowess by one of contemporary jazz's most notable students, Andrew Atkinson. He made his bones locally while at the University of Miami with reggae-ska act the Monjees and built his jazz chops backing Pastorius alum Othello Molineaux.

And it's this range of varied styles that young into which Atkinson has forayed that makes his compositions and live gigs so engaging and almost dramatic. His love for jazz and the instrument shine through like the cleanest of diamonds.

Atkinson first picked up the drum sticks at the age of 14, and he's packed into a short career what's taken others long lifetimes to achieve. He'll earn his place amongst those listed above in due time, but for now, check out a great in the making. Check out this video of one of his solos below.

The Andrew Atkinson Quartet. 8 p.m. Thursday, July 29. The Van Dyke Café, 846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. 305-534-3600; thevandykecafe.com

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