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Marc Parnell

Marc Parnell is the youngest son of the late drummer/bandleader Jack Parnell. Marc was trained classically on the piano from the age of six, and in order to attempt to win a music scholarship to Bryanston school, started playing the violin as a second instrument from the age of nine. Marc was awarded his scholarship at the age of twelve. During his early teens – while studying piano & violin – Marc was keenly listening to many genres of music. Classical, Rock, Pop, Jazz (and fusion), Latin, Funk and just about anything that attracted his ear. His brother Will was his main musical guru, alongside his father, introducing and surrounding Marc with cutting-edge music of which much is now considered to be classic and iconic. Marc’s musical ambition at that time was to be a keyboard player and composer. His eldest brother Ric was (and still is) a remarkable drummer who at that time was playing with Atomic Rooster and later with the Italian band Nova (and then he also played drums as the character Mick Shrimpton in the movie ‘This Is Spinal Tap’). And of course Marc’s father Jack was considered one of Britain’s finest Jazz drummers from the late 40s and through the 50s. Marc loved listening to drummers on recordings (Steve Gadd, Harvey Mason, Billy Cobham, Mike Clarke etc), and was, on more than one occasion, lucky enough to watch Buddy Rich live, and also to meet and socialise with Buddy as he was a friend of Jack’s. But Marc was still wanting to be a keyboard player, and had no interest in playing drums – not only because he had no idea how they did it – but also because both his father and eldest brother were great players. Marc knew that keyboard playing was for him.

But then something unexpected happened. Something that shocked Marc, let alone those around him. At the age of sixteen, in the midst of his music training, Marc had a dream. A simple one, but with profound consequences. He dreamed he was playing the drums at a gig. But when he awoke, he understood the whole concept of playing kit drums, and was aware of his ability to co-ordinate his hands and feet in rhythm. Unable to sleep again that night, he waited for daylight so he could find a kit to see if he could do what in his mind he knew he could. Telling a friend, they borrowed a kit (without the owners’ permission). To both their amazement, Marc played the groove of ‘Cut The Cake’ by The Average White Band, and ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock. Marc was immediately smitten. He called his father, saying “I want to play the drums – I mean, I can play the drums!” He then started training himself technique and rudiments, and how to groove. In the meantime, Marc’s music tutor stated that if he had to play drums (on top of what he was already doing) he must play in the school military band. This meant a lot of work – piano recitals, playing in the school orchestra and solo concerts on violin, singing in the school choir and concerts with the school military band.

Marc was also told to attend drum lessons, but was promptly asked to leave on his first visit as the teacher said he couldn’t teach Marc anything. As a result, most of the school believed that Marc had been playing drums for years previously, and the dream story was a fabrication. However, Marc’s father bought him a kit and bringing it to the school, told him that if he could play, he could have the kit. To his father’s astonishment (and slight disappointment) Marc played, and the kit was his. Less than a year later, Marc left school to pursue a career as a professional drummer, and continue composing in his spare time. During the first year of leaving school, Marc worked as a driver for a local bakery, practicing his drums quietly in his room in the evenings. During the second year, Marc moved into a house with fellow musician friends, and worked furiously on his drumming skills while doing odd-jobs for his income. His first professional break in music was to play with British Jazz-Funk band The Inversions, with whom Marc played many gigs and recorded two successful singles ‘Mr Mack’ and ‘Loco-Moto’. Then Marc joined London based Latin-Fusion band Cayenne, with whom he met many great musicians and played a huge number of gigs. In 1985 Marc toured the world with Joan Armatrading, gaining him invaluable experience.

Since then Marc has played live with a variety of artists as diverse as Theo Travis, Annie Ross, Jethro Tull, Matt Bianco, The Blockheads, Peter White, Dave Koz, Chuck Loeb, Basia and many more. Recently Marc played a drum solo on a kit made entirely of car parts for Top Gear Live in London, Birmingham, Sydney, Auckland and Hong Kong. In the studio Marc has been recorded on albums with Theo Travis, Francis Dunnery (with one track featuring Jeff Beck & Robert Plant), Gabriella Cilmi (including the hit single ‘Sweet About Me’), Girls Aloud, The Pet Shop Boys and again many more.

Before Marc’s father Jack passed away, he often spoke of wanting to record an album (with his sons) of original material that spanned across the jazz spectrum and drawing on influences of pop and modern ‘club’ dance ideas. Unfortunately, it never came to be. However, this is part of the reason Marc has recorded his debut album ‘Typical’ and has dedicated it to his father. Marc has always desired to record his own album right from the start of his career anyway. So now he decided to put a band together with musicians he felt were not just giants in their own right, but who could also adapt to each other while merging different styles of music together seamlessly.

To Marc’s delight his first call of musicians agreed, and the resulting stellar line-up is: Neil Angilley, Paul Booth, Patrick Bettison and Jody Linscott. Because of this, Marc wanted to feature compositions of his fellow band members (as well as his own), and again to his delight they agreed. The outcome is an eclectic album of original material, with stunning playing and infectious grooves, recorded almost completely ‘live’ with absolutely no computer enhancements, edits or ‘click’ tracks. In other words – quite simply – human! Marc’s inspiration was the way Jazz (and fusion) music was produced in the 70s, and as a tribute to that fact he has produced this album to as close to that philosophy as possible. The musicians on this recording are among the best players around, and the excitement from the band interaction speaks for itself.

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