Franklin Kiermyer conveys a spiritual feeling through his music that reaches each listener in different ways. He has a way of expressing his work without being locked into a musical category. What’s unique is that as different as various settings are, it always sounds like him. He is able to get intensity and communicate a strong, personal spiritual feeling through it all. This latest chapter in his musical step is a breakthrough. He is building a body of work that is wide-ranging with a singularity of purpose and an ensemble with which he can tour – Michael Cuscuna
Drummer/composer Franklin Kiermyer first came to prominence following the release of Solomon’s Daughter, his highly acclaimed third album that features John Coltrane alumnus Pharoah Sanders on saxophone. Widely regarded for his intense passionate energy, spiritual feeling and distinctive sound, his nine albums and many performances have brought his music international recognition.
His latest album: FURTHER (Mobility Music MM20130), co-produced by him & Michael Cuscuna, features his present quartet of Azar Lawrence – saxophone, Benito Gonzalez – piano + Juini Booth – bass.
Franklin was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. His grandfather gave him his first drum when he was 8 years old. His father loved New Orleans and Swing music, especially Big Bands, so Franklin spent many hours listening to these records, from Kid Ory and Fats Waller to Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
His professional career started at supper clubs and private parties. During this period, Franklin was introduced to both Buddhist meditation and the music of the John Coltrane Quartet of the mid-sixties. These inspirations had an immediate and profound impact that would intensify over the years.
Montreal of the 70’s was an important part of the East-Coast Jazz scene, so Franklin had many opportunities to hear and watch legends like Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Elvin Jones and many others.
Nonetheless, jazz gigs were scarce, so after leaving music college at eighteen, Kiermyer started to take road trips with U.S. Rhythm & Blues bands. Most of the next few years were spent traveling up and down the East Coast with a few sojourns west and south and off to Europe.
In his mid-twenties, Franklin began to bring together the best players he could to perform and record his own music. At age 26, he moved to New York City, where he was based for most of the next twenty years. As his music evolved, he had increasing opportunities to connect with audience.. Although many experiences were rewarding, he knew he hadn’t yet manifested what he was truly meant to do. Overcoming what was holding it back became the path. By his late thirties, Kiermyer was spending increasingly longer periods on spiritual retreat, mainly in India and Nepal.
“Over the years, I never gave up on my goals. I shifted my focus to working through what was holding the music back. If you listen, you’ll hear it’s further now. It feels like all the things I’ve worked on and learnt have led to this period where it all comes together. It feels like a big step forward for me and I’m grateful for that.
Throughout the course of his career, Franklin Kiermyer has had the good fortune to make music with many of the world’s great improvisers, including Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, Tisziji Muñoz, Azar Lawrence, Juini Booth, Dewey Redman, Reggie Workman, John Abercrombie, Don Alias, Bobo Stenson, Joe Lovano, T.V. Gopalakrishnan, Jerry Bergonzi, Vernon Reid, Dave Douglas, Drew Gress, Benito Gonzalez, Umdze Lodro Samphel, Dave Fiuzcynski and Debashish Battacharya, to mention only a very few of the wonderful musicians he has performed and/or recorded with.