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“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”

 – Sylvia Plath

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How do you find the very interesting artists? Do you Google “How do you find the very interesting artists” and take it from there?

Thinking… a big “no” on that one. Sometimes, you just stumble.

I did that the other night when I discovered Lafrae Sci. And it happened something like this…

I had gone to hear The Wolff/Clark Expedition, in Studio City, California. Jazz pianist Michael Wolff was introducing his legendary partner, drummer Mike Clark, and he was talking about how weird it was that almost 40 years later, drummers still stop Mike and beg him to explain what he was playing on the 1974 Herbie Hancock classic, “Actual Proof.” The song title, by the way, references a critical component of the Buddhist belief system, which Hancock practices.

The song rang a bell from my youth, so I made a note to check it out. I came home, Googled it, and buried somewhere in the myriad of abbreviated posts, I read, “That song changed my life…”, and within a few more abbreviated sentences, I saw the name LaFrae Sci.

What an interesting name. Had the song changed THIS person’s life? Hard to tell with the way the text and links were thrown together…

So I Goggled Lafrae Sci, and that’s how I discovered a very interesting artist indeed.

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She’s a New York freelance drummer/composer who also does work with the State Department as a Jazz Ambassador, traveling all over the world. She is a founding member and sits on the board of directors for the Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls. She was musical director for Sandra Bernhard’s musical comedy show, The Bad And The Beautiful.

LaFrae leads a group called The 13th Amendment, and another one called The Scenic Route. She’s also a faculty member of the Middle School Jazz Academy at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

And, and, she’s a Sabian artist.

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LaFrae was headed down the law school path when academic circumstances took her briefly from the hallowed halls to some basic day jobs to regain perspective. During that time, she woodshedded her drumming chops, paid her rent playing music for a year, and never looked back. This altered path eventually took her to New York City, where she was (and is) able to make a living doing what she loves.

That’s not just interesting, that’s massively odds-defying.

And, inspiring.

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There are some great videos on her website (www.lafraesci.me), and one I enjoyed quite a bit was her playing with The 13th Amendment. It’s a very cool, syncopated groove in 13 that segues into a nice modern swing that has more than a few fat and honest triplet fills. I mean, the kind where she’s there, nowhere else, not wanting to be anywhere else, and it’s all just rolling out of her hands… really nice.

Modern Drummer and Tom-Tom magazine have given her press, and LaFrae has over 300 YouTube video references. I’ve included two I really enjoyed because they showed a young lady exploring her art (click the link to watch it directly on YouTube)…

… and then a few years later, a young woman telling you where her feet had been as a result of walking that path.

As with these snippets of people’s lives, I encourage you to explore what LaFrae Sci is doing and will continue to do, because the days of drummers simply being thought of as just timekeepers fades with every pass of the sun. And while I never did get an answer to my question about whether the song “Actual Proof” changed LaFrae’s life, it’s clear that she’s composing hers, not just listening to it unfold randomly and hoping the right sounds find their way to her soul and back out again…

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