Musician | Composer | Educator
Music OMH magazine describes the London based drummer, composer
as “supremely subtle and melodic… dynamic and powerful.”
To be sure, Rod Youngs is one of the most expressive and adept musicians in the music arena today. His approach to music is intuitive, emotional and all embracing but soundly rooted in the jazz tradition. Whether playing mainstream jazz, world music, or urban contemporary, Rod seamlessly moves from one genre to another, always preserving stylistic conventions whilst bringing creativity and individuality. His journey in music began in his youth and has blossomed into a distinguished career that has spanned over two decades.
A native of Washington D.C. Rod developed an interest and appreciation for music at an early age. He recalls his first exposure to live music. “My dad managed some of Washington’s foremost R & B groups and would occasionally take me along to gigs/recording sessions…this first hand exposure was very inspiring and was the spark that triggered my passion for music.” His enjoyment and appreciation for music in this period was fervent but his fascination with the art of drumming was even stronger. Rod explains, “I was completely captivated by the drums and became obsessed with imitating the drum parts of my favorite tunes.” This fever for drumming led to his enrollment in the DC Youth Orchestra Program. Soon after his joining DCYO, Rod received his first drum set. This was the beginning of his commitment to music and percussion. During this period he practiced incessantly studying orchestral percussion at the DCYOP and learning drum-set independently. “Some of my earlier influences were Billy Cobham, Harvey Mason, Steve Gadd , Buddy Miles, Tony Williams, Jerome Brailey and Maurice White.”
"Rod Youngs, recently seen with Denys Baptiste at St Georges, has a uniquely identifiable style, loose- limbed, ever so slightly behind the beat, giving everything a great sense of swing. It is a style that incorporates influences across the board from Sid Catlett to Tony Williams, but centres in the great post-Bop drummers of the 50s".
Charlie Dunlap-Listomania Bath
He subsequently continued his studies at Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Applied percussion. He also studied with former principle timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Fred Begun and in1985 he was chosen to study jazz performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. under the tutelage of Keith Copeland.
Even before the completion of his formal training, Rod’s reputation as an exceptional musician led to him being invited to tour with jazz pianist/vocalist Les Mc Cann and R & B vocalist Angela Bofil.
"Drummer Rod Youngs provided solid rhythmic support throughout the evening, whether working funk, jazz or reggae beats." Bill Kohlhaase,
The LA Times
Since those early years Rod’s consummate musicianship has garnered him a wide variety of work from concerts and recordings to sessions for radio, TV and film. He has become the drummer of choice for a formidable array of artists and groups including, Gil Scott-Heron, Lee Konitz, Sia,
Courtney Pine, Jon Hendricks, Hugh Masekela, Carleen Anderson, Craig Handy, Natalie Cole, Bennie Maupin, Mica Paris, Denys Baptiste, Abdullah Ibrahim, Juliet Roberts, Julian Joseph, BBC Concert Orchestra, Ronnie Laws, Jocelyn Brown, Robin Eubanks,
Jazz Jamaica All Stars, and David Murray amongst others.
In addition to performing, Rod is actively involved in music education. He has served as an instructor on the Glamorgan University jazz course and has conducted performance workshops for South Hampton University, Tomorrow’s Warrior’s Organization, Serious International Music Producers and The Round House. He currently provides private instruction for students of all levels and ages and serves as a guest artist at the Planet Drum School and the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.