In the run-up to NMB’s final gig of the year, we asked ensemblebash percussionist Chris Brannick to give us his Top 10 percussion tracks! Here’s how it rolls…

1. Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal (featuring Chris Brannick)
First, two videos featuring me. First with the amazing Steve Bingham, a cover version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal that’s both funny and shows off a fair range of small percussion.
2. Stewart Copeland/Orchestralli – The Equalizer
One of the highlights of my musical career has been to work with Stewart Copeland, ex-drummer for The Police, now a film composer. He never switched off, always 100% in every rehearsal from downbeat to packing up – and he’s a really nice guy, too. This is from a tour of Italy, playing the title music to The Equalizer. When he hits a drum, it damn well stays hit.
3. Teddy Brown
Everyone should listen to the legendary Teddy Brown at some point in your life. I have no idea how he gets to play so fast and so accurately. Get any percussionist to watch the section at 2′ to the end – simply unbelievable!
4. Iannis Xenakis – Psappha
Difficult one this; I wanted a recording of Iannis Xenakis’ Psappha. Steve Schick does a brilliant job of playing it, but I’m not keen on his instrument choices, which all seem a bit small. I think the piece needs more drama. Still, a great performance.
5. Steve Reich – Drumming Part 1.
If only Nexus had made a video… that’s the classic performance. This is pretty good, though, and the opening is spectacularly tight.
6. Steve Reich – Sextet
I know I probably shouldn’t put two pieces by the same composer in, but Steve Reich’s Sextet is one of my favourite pieces to play. Very, very satisfying. I managed to play it to him as part of an ensemblebash concert some time ago… an amazing experience.
7. Ron Powell – Pandeiro Solo
It would be a real shame to miss out on one of my favourite percussion areas – frame drumming. Here’s a rather lovely pandeiro solo by Ron Powell. Worth it just for the first 10 seconds…
8.Edgard Varèse – Ionisation
The piece that probably started it all… Ionisation by Edgard Varèse, performed here by an expanded Amadinda – who are a fabulous group, but a bit serious.
9. John Cage – Third Construction
Another of my favourites that I couldn’t find in a version that ticks all the boxes… here’s Amadinda again. I find this performance all a bit fast and frenetic. but it’s very accurate indeed. And technically stunning.
10. Stephen Hiscock & Chris Brannick – Junkyard Samba
And lastly, I hope no-one minds a third one with me in it, but… ensemblebash playing Junkyard Samba, written by Stephen Hiscock and myself. Originally written for a TV programme called ‘What’s That Noise’, this piece still doing the round in various forms, playing whatever we happen to have to hand.

Chris Brannick


Patrons: Michael Finnissy & Sally Beamish OBE