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Jet engine becomes an instrument on new percussion album

12 March 2023

In the hands of expert percussionist Justin DeHart even a 747-jet engine cowling can become an instrument.


On the Edge (1984) John Bergamo

In the hands of expert percussionist Justin DeHart even a 747-jet engine cowling can become an instrument.

The University of Canterbury Associate Professor has released a new album, 10 years in the making, titled Ring: The Complete Percussion Solos of John Bergamo, on Rattle Records.

Instruments on the album include timpani, vibraphone, snare drum, multi-percussion, marimba and the jet engine cowling, which is laid flat and played with the performer standing inside of it, “using various implements to excite the large aluminium object”, DeHart says.

The album is a tribute to the music of visionary musician the late John Bergamo, whom DeHart studied with at the California Institute of the Arts in 2002-2004.  

“The project is personally meaningful to me, in that Bergamo was a teacher, mentor and friend from 2002 until his passing in 2013. Bergamo seemed to approach music in a uniquely collaborative and trans-genre manner, which was contrary to many of the musicians I was aware of at the time, who were specialists in one area or another,” DeHart says.  

The maestro nurtured the young DeHart, becoming one of his musical heroes due to both his musical dexterity and his humility.

“Bergamo was always extremely generous with his knowledge, time and care. He encouraged me to assert myself more in my musical pursuit, and to have respect and curiosity of music traditions, and people, from around the world.

“I am so thrilled to be presenting the premiere recording of the entire piece, and to join the 747-engine cowling part together with Bergamo’s gorgeously multi-tracked performance of the other four parts. The addition of the engine cowling adds quite a bit of timbral complexity and includes a notable moment in the middle of the pieces where marbles are rolled around its trough.”  

Listen to the recording here.

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