Dare to Drum
R1 - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (12th November 2017).
The Film

The Texas based percussion group DíDrum have received a special invitation to participate and help compose an instrumental piece centered on gamelan, Indonesia's traditional musical instrument, and DíDrum gets to choose who the composer will be. The group selects eclectic drummer, Stewart Copeland, the drummer for the rock band The Police because of his widely varied experiences as a composer of many soundtracks and ballets but also because of his previous familiarity to gamelan. As they worked tirelessly on the project they learned that they would also team up with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra led by Maestro Jaap van Zweden; this was a once in a lifetime chance to demonstrate the groupís love of international music and the chance to play before a live audience with the Symphony Orchestra accompanying them.

Members of the group are no strangers to teaching music at various local colleges in the area and several of the men are also participants in the Dallas Orchestra already. The bands lineup includes group leader, Ron Snider, as a full time percussionist with the orchestra while John Bryant serves as DíDrumís director. Other members include Doug Howard as a percussionist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as well as a professor at Southern Methodist University; Ed Smith teaches at both the University of North Texas, and SMU and finally, DíDrum also included Jamal Mohamed. The musical unit have received significant attention due to their extensive travels abroad investigating the music influences of such exotic places as Bali, Africa, Persia and other locales. DíDrum have imported many types of percussion instruments from other countries to include in their performances and have recorded the soundtrack to the National Geographic film, Lions of Darkness.

The film shows the band rehearsing often and there are many discussions with Stewart Copeland regarding what the music is trying to express. That may be part of the problem with first time director/screenwriter John Bryantís options; we are shown six men discussing music in musical terms and as an outsider, I felt somewhat overwhelmed with the various personalities involved and since we donít really get the chance to know anyone in particular, we are basically witness to the creative process, which is interesting, but I wanted to feel more engaged as a viewer of the film. Copeland, of course, is the focus of the film, as he should be, but he continually kept claiming that drumming was a male domain and I wondered how female musicians felt about that insight? I do know that essentially in the music world, men have been extremely territorial about their place in the hierarchic of gender, but I am also aware that Karen Carpenter was regarded as an incredible drummer, even though that is not how most of us remember her. There is a moment in the film when various members of DíDrum are asked why they became drummers and one answers, ďI wanted to make girls scream.Ē I wondered how that worked out for him because none of the men are rock star types, even though they are obviously talented.

As the band rehearses over a two year period, we are shown specific scenes of how members travelled to Bali and had percussion instruments specifically hand made for the performance. Since gamelans are individually tuned differently for each of the individual tribes in Bali, DíDrum needed to have their instruments hand tuned to the Western orchestral settings so that they could play along with the Symphony in time. This was an interesting insight into the production of the exotic instruments that would be used in the original composition by Copeland. As the time of the final production arrives, we are introduced to the conductor of the orchestra, Jaap van Zweden, a slightly intimidating figure that the members of DíDrum definitely see as a force to be reckoned with. Van Zweden, is indeed a man that takes his music most seriously and his rehearsals with the band are done in a no-nonsense manner. "Seinfeld" (1989-1998) fans will be delighted at the maestro reference and I could help but laugh at the manís scowling manner and how the band members trembled at the mere mention of his name. How this strange sounding music is going to interact with the symphony is definitely a question that audience members will want to witness. As the time approaches for the final rehearsal with the symphony nears, tragedy strikes as Texas is plagued with a series of icy winter storms and two days of the concert are cancelled. The bandís mood is dark as it is apparent that they will have only one day to perform with the complete orchestraís backing and with the maestro guiding them along. Copelandís piece is entitled ďGamelan DíDrum, Concerto for World Percussion and Orchestra ďand the band gets to perform without a hitch before a packed house at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

This is a fascinating look at the behind the scenes of what it takes to create and perform a musical piece on a large scale with a group of talented musicians. We are brought in to witness the bandís struggles and triumphs of creating the music of a foreign culture and introducing it to an uninformed audience. The film is an interesting introduction to the world of drumming and percussion but also to the music of other cultures such as Bali.

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video is a tad choppy in places and the cutting between scenes is a bit erratic. Overall the picture quality is fine and the video source varies as we are shown handheld footage from travels abroad.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, the 5.1 surround fills the room with sound and excellent channel separation. The extra performance piece that is included is certainly captured in all of its glory and fans of global music should enjoy this feature. There are no optional subtitles.

Extras

Kino Lorber has included only a small selection of supplements that includes the full concert performance of "The Dallas Symphony: Gamelan D'Drum | Concerto for World Percussion and Orchestra" which runs for 30 minutes.

The disc also features the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 58 seconds.

Overall

"Dare to Drum" is an interesting piece by first time director John Bryant that showcases DíDrum and their multi instrumental talents.

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.