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.
In my spare time (when I’m not researching drummers!) I’m also a published illustrator, 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
Below is a selected discography of commercial vintage music recordings on which I’ve appeared:
– With THE KING OLIVER PROJECT: The King Oliver Project
– With various: House Bound Jazz [International collaborative overdubbing project recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown]
– With ANDREW OLIVER: No Local Stops
– With ALEX MENDHAM & HIS ORCHESTRA: Puttin’ On The Ritz
– With ORCHESTRE TYPIQUE TRANSATLANTIQUE: Biguines Pour Vous
– THE LOUISIANA FIVE / HORNIBLOW, OLIVER, WHEATLEY, LOWE & BALL: Clarinet Squawk!
– With HORNIBLOW’S HOT THREE: Steppin’ On The Gas
– With THE VITALITY FIVE: Syncopation Gone Mad
– With ANDY SCHUMM: Futuristic Rhythms: Imagining The Later Bix Beiderbecke
-With MICHAEL McQUAID: Diaspora
– With ALEX MENDHAM & HIS ORCHESTRA: On With The Show
– With ALEX MENDHAM & HIS ORCHESTRA: Jazznocracy
– With ENRICO TOMASSO & ANDY SCHUMM: When Louis Met Bix
– With THE VITALITY FIVE :Vitality Five
– With ALEX MENDHAM & HIS ORCHESTRA: Whistling In The Dark