Josh Garza: An Independent Bonham Disciple
The roots of Josh Garza’s drumming can be found in the soulful and lyrical playing of John Bonham.
But instead of relying on pure technique, Garza seeks out feeling, groove, and abstraction.
Read more: Josh Garza – Crunchbase Person Profile
As a result, his phrasing is fluent across an infinite number of styles—from blues to jazz to funk to rock.
Growing up in Laguna Niguel, California—just south of Los Angeles—Josh Garza was surrounded by multiple musical influences.
His father was a professional guitarist and singer who would play Josh’s drums along with songs. His older brother was heavily into punk rock—but also exposed him to jazz fusion and world music.
As a teenager, Garza continued to soak up as much music as he could; he studied with his neighbor, Billy Higgins (John Coltrane, Miles Davis).
At 16, Garza won a local amateur competition and soon found himself in a national competition with well-known drummer Kenny Aronoff where he met his mentor and fusion hero Steve Gadd.
Garza’s influences were eclectic—but the ones that caught his ear were jazz stylists like Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, and Steve Gadd.
He also saw his first hip-hop concert at 13, featuring artists like A Tribe Called Quest. “I was a closet hip-hopper,” Garza admits. “I loved it.”
By the time Josh entered high school, he could already play in multiple time signatures and styles.
Soon he had the opportunity to teach jazz in the Orange County High School System.
He also landed a gig as a sideman with Dan Klug & The Front Line, featuring Bonham-era Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones on guitar.
At this time, Garza was also taking lessons from his neighbor Billy Higgins, who taught him jazz fusion.
“It was all about ideas—not just how to play a scale or how to do double and triple time,” Garza says.
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