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Ringo Starr’s Drummer in Stellar Line-up

One of the great drummers of the world will fly to Auckland after playing for the most well-known drummer on the planet.

Gregg Bissonette comes directly to New Zealand following engagements with Ringo Starr’s Allstar Band.

Bissonette is one of three international artists who’ll embark on a six venue Jazz Gala tour of New Zealand in May and June this year. They perform at the Bruce Mason Centre on May 29.

Such is his reputation that Artistic Director, Rodger Fox, is paying tribute to Gregg and featuring music from his 30 year career.

Bissonette shot to fame as drummer for the Maynard Ferguson Big Band. Ferguson who, in turn, started with Stan Kenton, recorded some of the great movie themes such as Star Wars, Rocky and Battlestar Gallactica. The Rodger Fox Big Band will showcase those tracks featuring Bissonette on percussion and another artist, Louis Dowdeswell, recreating Ferguson on high note trumpet.

Gregg Bissonette also played with American rock group Toto before moving to Ringo Starr’s Allstar Band about seven years ago. The Jazz Gala tour will dedicate music from that era.

“Performing with Ringo has been a highlight of his career,” Rodger Fox comments. “He’s always been a Beatles fan and when Ringo invited him to join his band, it was a lifetime dream.”

Ringo Starr, himself a legendary drummer, is lead singer with his band although he finds time to play duo percussion with Gregg. As part of the tribute, the Rodger Fox Big Band will perform Beatles tracks as well as contemporary music that’s now part of Ringo’s repertoire.

“Gregg is such a versatile player. He’s a studio musician one day, he flies around the world with Ringo the next and is then solo drummer at festivals such as ours,” Rodger Fox says.

“He’s been a consummate drummer for hire and we’re delighted to attract him here for our national tour.”

The other artists are San Francisco based Glenn Walters, “soul with jazz overtones,” and rising young British trumpeter and band leader, Louis Dowdeswell.

Walters has an easy to listen to style and will sing tracks from a recently recorded CD, produced by Doc Kupka for the famed band, Tower of Power. Walters is a Ray Charles exponent and will give his rendition of stellar singles, Busted and Georgia On My Mind.

Louis Dowdeswell has a fast growing reputation in Great Britain as an outstanding trumpeter and band leader. He’s played with such talent as Michael Buble, Al Jarreau, Josh Groban and many more and his TV credits include being part of The X Factor big band.

“The Jazz Gala is the concert you go to when you’re not sure about jazz. It’s accessible, offers a variety of sound and style and features three incomparable artists,” Rodger says.

The Jazz Gala performs at the Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland, on May 29 at 8pm. Bookings at


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