I’m a professional drummer and percussionist specialising in popular music from the first half of the twentieth century, with particular focus on 1910s ragtime and 1920s hot jazz. I’m originally from near Bristol, but since 2004 I’ve lived and worked in London.
I’ll admit I owe my current status as a professional to a large amount of hard work and an even larger amount of luck. I happened to become interested in the earlier forms of jazz as I was graduating from music college, just at a time (2009) when there was a burgeoning vintage party and dance scene in London and elsewhere, but a very small number of bands and musicians interested in playing period music (and even fewer that were young and carefree enough to do so for not much money, and thus work a lot). I quickly began to meet likeminded young musicians on the scene, some of whom have gone to become longstanding friends and musical collaborators.
I’ve been lucky enough to play in some exceptional bands (and some less-exceptional ones!) perform in a few unusual and memorable situations and visit some strange places during my time in the vintage jazz world so far. I’ve also had a few brushes with ‘mainstream’ media playing as a soundtrack and screen musician for various 1920s-set movies and TV costume dramas (you can probably guess which ones). Throughout all of this, I’ve continued to cherish and love the music of the period, and these days I’ve come to think of some of the drummers I’ll be writing about almost as old friends. I continue to spend much of my time consumed with further listening, reading and study of Drums in the Twenties and beyond.
Aside from my musical activities I’m also a part-time graphic designer and published illustrator, a keen tall-ship sailor and amateur football (soccer) player. I live in deepest South London in an old Victorian flat with my long-term lady partner, two cretinous cats and a cellar full of old drums.
Nicholas D. Ball
Selected discography of commercial vintage music recordings I’ve performed on:
– With THE VITALITY FIVE
Albums: Vitality Five [ASTRO, 2015]; Syncopation Gone Mad [VEAC, 2018]
E-78s (monthly two-track releases, available on all good online music-streaming platforms): 31st Street Blues/Three Blind Mice; Morocco Blues/High Fever; New Orleans Wiggle/Boneyard Shuffle; Copenhagen / Little By Little; Every Evening/Jacksonville Gal; Sphinx/Deep Blue Sea Blues; Land Of Cotton Blues / That’s No Bargain [all VEAC, 2018]
– With ENRICO TOMASSO & ANDY SCHUMM: When Louis Met Bix [Lake, 2015]
– With ANDY SCHUMM: Futuristic Rhythms: Imagining The Later Bix Beiderbecke [Rivermont, 2018]
– With ALEX MENDHAM & HIS ORCHESTRA: Whistling In The Dark [Rivermont, 2013];
Jazznocracy [Rivermont, 2015]; On With The Show 
– With MICHAEL McQUAID: Diaspora 
– With ALBERT BALL’S FLYING ACES: Albert Ball’s Flying Aces [ASTRO, 2013]
– With PATRICIA HAMMOND: Down Memory Lane [Sony, 2010]; Our Lovely Day [Imperial, 2011]; Songs Of The Great War 
– With THE HARLEM MEER CATS: Jungle Nights In Harlem [Cottontail, 2017]