Kelvin Andreas: Keeping the Spirit of Jazz Drumming Alive

Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA sure has a way of discovering talent for their collegiate roster. Kelvin fits the profile perfectly.

For those unaware, Berklee College of Music is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world.

Kelvin Andreas is a jazz drummer and recent graduate from Berklee who majored in Jazz Composition.

I recently found out about him via a mutual connection with drummer Vlade Guigni (another excellent drummer who studied at Berklee).

I was blown away. I first watched a performance entitled Floating Cascade by Jason Mountario which features Kelvin playing drums.

The song begins mellow but quickly transitions to a quick groove in three with great chord changes.

I’ve always loved jazz that utilizes the vibraphone in a way where it can have its own voice. The piano playing on this piece is also mind-bending. Kelvin drives the septet hard around the eleven-minute mark prior to his feature as the tune builds up.

Kelvin’s early and collegiate life

Kelvin was born in Surabaya, Indonesia. He initially learned to play the piano, but quickly fell in love with the drums, so much so that they were the main priority.

His first gigs took place at Sunday school at his church. Kelvin’s first major award was winning a band competition in junior high. He continued to pursue the drums all through high school.

Kelvin graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2018 and has since been performing and teaching in the Boston, MA.

Vivid Imagery

On April 1st of 2019, Kelvin Andreas released his first solo album entitled Vivid Imagery. I decided to give it a spin while editing some content for the website.

Kelvin Andreas Vivid Imagery

Upon first listen, a world opened up similar to the likes of Miles Davis meets Chick Corea minus the synthesizers.

The album is fantastic; I suggest you give it a listen.

Vivid Imagery by Kelvin Andreas courtesy of Spotify

The personel on Vivid Imagery are as follows:

Kelvin Andreas – drums
Nathan See – alto saxophone
Takeru Saito – piano
Ioseb ‘Soso’ Gelovani – upright & electric bass

Additional string arrangement by Aloysius Abel Huray with accompanying string players:

Bengisu Gokce – violin
Emily Gelineau – violin
Joshua Litton – viola
Ben Eyink – cello

My favorite tracks on the album thus far are “Bloom” and “Purple Sky.”

“Bloom” is a tune that features a very funky and hip groove amidst a luscious soundscape of musical prowess. The piano has a dominant role in this tune, and the half-time feel is commanding throughout.

“Purple Sky” begins with a bass ostinato similar to that of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with more drive and ambition.

The alto sax takes the lead melody under a rhythm section playing a quick straight-eighth feel, switching to swing during the end of the verses.

The ten-and-a-half minute piece is ambitious, and rightly so. As I listen and ponder again, I believe this may be my favorite tune on the album.

Bop is influential throughout, especially in the later sections of the piece (take a listen around 7:35).

The end of “Purple Sky” finishes with a loud swing chorus, full of fills and syncopation, finally resolving to, to my ears currently, the classic James Bond nine chord (as we jokingly called it in music school).

I could be wrong; it’s been a long time since my training in aural skills. Point of the story: listen to this album if you love jazz music. You will not be disappointed.

Email Interview with Kelvin Andreas

Nick: Hey Kelvin, thanks for taking a minute to answer some of these questions for the interview. Please feel free to elaborate directly or indirectly to the questions asked. Anything you wish to share is welcomed.

Nick: What caused your drive towards the drums, rather than piano, as a child?

Kelvin: “I started on piano first when I was small, but it didn’t stick with me.

Then, I got inspired when I saw the drummer in my Sunday school when I was a little kid, and then my mom took me to drum lessons.

It pretty much started from there, going on and off for a while, but I got more serious as I got into middle school and especially high school when one of my friends introduced me to jazz.

Nick: “Who were/are some of your biggest influences as a drummer?

Kelvin: “It’s tough to name just a few, because I’m influenced by so many of them, across different genres as well.

But I would say two of my teachers from Berklee, Bob Gullotti and Billy Kilson, and also Brian Blade who is currently my favorite.”

Nick: “How was your experience at Berklee? I’d have to imagine it was both exhilarating and intimidating being around so many unique and talented musicians at one time.”

Kelvin: “Coming to Berklee, I felt intimidated by the amount of crazy talent there. But at the same time, it pushed me to get better every day.

Always surrounding myself with better musicians and good mentors helped me improve a lot.”

Nick: “Do you have any crazy gig stories to share with our audience?”

Kelvin: “It was my first ever gig in New York, where I played for three different Berklee bands in one bill. That’s not the crazy part though.

In the venue, when the other group was playing, I saw a lady that looked like she was heavily under-the-influence. She continued to dance in front of the stage throughout the night until she finally decided to leave.

When she was about to leave, she went to the corner of the room where all the band members’ belongings are and took a jacket.

Fortunately, one of our friends saw it and called us to check if it was ours. We all rushed to take a look, and it turned out to be one of our friend’s jacket.

Everyone started yelling and calling the security, and there was some action going on pulling the jacket back and forth until we finally got it back (but it was ripped a little bit).

The security people and the lady continued to fight while walking towards the exit. They even had to call the police as well.

Before the police came, the lady managed to somehow break the glass door in the entrance of the venue — crazy first gig in New York.

Nick: “How was the experience of recording and releasing your album ‘Vivid Imagery’? I’ve listened twice through now and can’t get enough of it. The playing is phenomenal, and the record sounds excellent from an engineering standpoint.

Kelvin: “Thank you so much! That means a lot. It was stressful but very fulfilling. Throughout the process, I didn’t feel like it was going to come out, but I felt satisfied with the end product.

All the compositions were composed throughout my time in Berklee (I graduated as a Jazz Composition major).

Some were old; some were new.

My bandmates have been playing with me together for a bit because for the last few semesters I played with them for all my recitals.

We did all the recording except the strings in one day, which I wouldn’t recommend at all. But in this case, it worked out because we were comfortable playing with each other and everyone knew the tunes already.

I’m also very grateful for my engineers because they made my music sound good and how I wanted it to sound like.

The release felt kind of weird because I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, so I didn’t do enough marketing.

Although looking back, it was an excellent experience to learn from, and I can use it for my future projects. Overall, I felt very blessed to be able to make it happen and excited to keep making music.

Nick: “Lastly, can you recommend any other drummers you’re inspired by (be it Berklee musicians or anyone else) that we should cover?

Kelvin: “Lately, I’ve been inspired by Lenny ‘The Ox’ Reece and The Lesson GK; they are fantastic.

For Berklee alumni, check out Anthony Fung and Jongkuk ‘JK’ Kim, when I first came to Berklee they were seniors I think. They were some of the drummers I looked up to back then, and still do, of course.”

Thanks for sharing with us, Kelvin!

For more information on Kelvin Andreas, be sure to visit his website and follow his social accounts below.

Kelvin Andreas is currently endorsed by Murat Diril Cymbals.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *