A little more than 10 years ago, the satirical website The Onion ran a story about a musician named “Michael Langello,” who had dreams of launching “an experimental hardcore rock-jazz trio called Orbit,” but instead finds himself playing smooth jazz.
“Langello” laments that “suddenly you’re 40 years old and you open your dresser drawer to find nothing but linen pants.”
Poor “Michael Langello” might well envy the position Washington native David Throckmorton is in. While not making thousands of dollars per night, Throckmorton has been able to pay the bills as a jazz drummer without surrendering his own artistry.
“I never wanted to be famous or get rich,” said Throckmorton, who now calls Canonsburg home. “I just wanted to make great music.”
With a father and brother who were drummers, Throckmorton had one of his highest-profile gigs at age 25, when he went out on the road with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. Now 44, Throckmorton is juggling a variety of projects, including the DTC Organ Trio, which will be appearing at Presidents Pub in Washington starting at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The appearance is part of the ongoing Jazz Brunch series sponsored by the Washington Jazz Society.
The DTC Organ Trio is named for the three musicians who comprise it: Throckmorton; guitarist Dan Wilson; and Cliff Barnes on organ. Wilson has been part of the touring band of bassist Christian McBride, and also teaches at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio; Barnes has played with Marcus Miller, the bassist who has had a successful solo career after a stint playing with Miles Davis in the 1980s.
“I never play in Washington, where I’m from, so it’s nice to play with these guys,” Throckmorton said. He added that they’ll be playing “mostly other people’s material, more traditional jazz.”
Throckmorton is part of other groups that are somewhat edgier. He plays with Cello Fury, the Pittsburgh rock band that consists of three cellists, the band Sound Unsound, which Throckmorton describes as “more abstract” and Smash Your Wagon, which Throckmorton says is “instrumental music, but kind of in between rock, electronica and jazz.”
He said, “I like that. That’s kind of what I want to do, which is find my voice and play my own stuff.”
Along with his work as a musician, Throckmorton plans to enter the retail end of the music business by getting a drum shop going in McKees Rocks. It will provide specialized equipment and accessories for drummers, and master classes to help nurture younger musicians “and make people aware of what’s possible with the instrument.”
Does he have any advice for aspiring drummers?
“I would say that you have to love it and want to do it,” Throckmorton said. “It’s a hard way to make a living.”