US percussionist doesn't earn enough to remain in the UK
Artist biography Steve Forman
Many would say that Steve Forman is a cultural institution akin to the great artists with whom he has recorded. Augmenting his range of Toca Percussion instruments with a collection of rare indigenous instruments, contemporary creations, artillery shells and quirky junkyard sonorous objects, he brings a veteran's sensibility and a fresh palette of sounds to each gig.
Originally a symphonic percussionist in Phoenix, Steve Forman became active in the LA studios in the early seventies and, thus, has witnessed the transition from minimal tracks to multi-track to digital-from the Spector "wall of sound" ambience to pristine, damped discrete tones to electronica. Forman has played on a staggering list of sessions-truly astounding-ranging from Warren Zevon and James Taylor to Sarah Vaughn and Linda Ronstadt. If it's a heartland artist, an American heritage artist, or an edgy contemporary classical ensemble, Forman has probably done the recording. Let's cherry pick a few more names from his discography: Al Jarreau, Lee Ritenour, Carol Bayer Sager, Jimmy Smith, Jennifer Warnes (yes, on Famous Blue Raincoat), Amy Grant, Don Grusin, Art Garfunkel, Glen Frey, Poco, Steve Cropper, José Feliciano, Herb Alpert, Jimmy Buffet, The Beach Boys, and the Dave Matthews Band. One might say that Steve Forman has helped define and broaden the role of studio percussionist in all musical genres. To top it off, he is an acknowledged pioneer in integrating electronic and MIDI percussion with "real" instruments, to the point where he can seamlessly sequence indigenous and electronic percussion with a live orchestra on a film scoring stage.
So vast is his collection of percussion instruments and so complete is his knowledge, that Steve Forman opened a facility, Tambourine Studios, that serves the percussion community by providing access to diverse, hard-to-find instruments and serves as his own production facility. Here he can work on major film scores (another long list) or devise new music for various visual arts, dance, and other creative projects. In addition, at the Tambourine facility (located down the hill from Pasadena but upwards from LA), Steve hand crafts exquisitely resonant Irish frame drums. His bodhrans are arguably the world standard, judged from the choice of skins to the integrity of the internal frame. With such expertise literally at his fingertips, it becomes obvious that Steve Forman's endorsement of Toca instruments is glowing and well considered.
In 2008, amazingly Steve Forman took a sabbatical from his Los Angeles percussion duties, which had become largely stale studio overdubs of electronic effects, or chasing digital clicks in films, and took up residency in Glasgow, Scotland in order to pursue his PhD. His ambition is to create a contemporary body of work in classical music around the bodhran. Already his compositions have been premiered by the Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra.
From his California home above the valley in Highland Park, Steve Forman now views life as a Glaswegian. The only Highland Park in sight is the label of the precious Orkney malt whisky. And given Forman's past, it's a sure bet he'll mount that glass vessel and find a way to extract startlingly unique timbres.