About Geoff Clapp
While Geoff was a high school student at the North Carolina School of the Arts (studying classical percussion and playing in the school’s jazz band), he had the opportunity to meet and hear New Orleanians, including trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pianist Ellis Marsalis and drummer Herlin Riley (All-Star 1991). “I never knew drums could be played like that,” exclaims Clapp of Riley’s style and talents. “That really sparked my true interest in jazz.”
These events ultimately resulted in Clapp attending the University of New Orleans in the fall of 1989. He was among the first talented group of musicians, which included drummer Brian Blade (All-Star 1993), trumpeter Jeremy Davenport (All-Star 2000) and bassist Chris Thomas (All-Star 1999) in the new jazz studies program headed by Ellis Marsalis. “We were just a bunch of hoodlums trying to play jazz,” says Clapp with a chuckle.
He soon immersed himself in New Orleans drumming, soaking up the style from the likes of Riley, Stanley Stephens and Shannon Powell (All-Star 1995).
The road called Clapp away from his studies and he headed out with some heavies, including saxophonist Donald Harrison, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis and trumpeter Jeremy Davenport. Because Clapp has made a habit of often returning to New Orleans to gig, it might surprise some that he actually moved away from here in ’99 and was primarily based in Brooklyn until returning to New Orleans in the fall of 2007.
Beyond pursuing his jazz career (including tours presented by the State Department tour that took him to Africa), he did his share of teaching. He was active with Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center jazz educational program as well as bassist Christian McBride’s Jazz House Kids workshops in inner city schools. He continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Dillard University, as well as teach privately.
Clapp, who began beating Tupperware bowls with wooden spoons and moved from a rock to a jazz drum set, is back on the New Orleans modern jazz scene, playing what he describes as a mix of the “heady New York and soulful New Orleans” drum styles.
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