MIKE ALBINIAK - Mikeís passion for drumming spans 40 years and a host of musical styles. Beginning in the 7th grade, Mike was a member of the percussion section in concert bands, orchestras and community bands throughout his school years. He was also a charter member of the DePaul University Jazz Big Band.

His first paying gig was a jobbing date during his freshman year in high school. Mike continued freelancing for many years with wedding bands, rock groups, show bands and modern jazz combos. However, from an early age, he came to regard traditional and classic jazz as his music of choice. His first chance to perform the early jazz he loves was in 1968, subbing with the Chicago Footwarmers, a group led by fellow West End musician Mike Walbridge. He was influenced in a major way by listening to drummers such as Zutty Singleton, George Wettling, and our good old friend the late Glen Koch.

In recent years, Mike has been fortunate to be able to focus most of his playing with a number of bands covering a wide variety of traditional jazz styles. Collecting vintage percussion items helps in keeping his sound authentic. He is a Jelly Roll Morton fanatic and that is his band of choice for listening pleasure.

We asked him why he zeroed in on this early jazz. He said, "Music is pure emotion, and this jazz makes me feel the best."

Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps and serving from 1975 through 1979 prepared him well for the discipline thatís required to play sweet and hot dance music under leader Mike Bezin. He is married to the multitalented Chris, who teaches band and general music and who plays all instruments but drums. Between the two of them, they have an entire orchestra.

Hunting and fishing, and being an avid 3 Stooges fan round out his varied interests. Finally, the banjoist and drummer can agree on some things!

Mike plays a custom built trap set from the San Francisco Drum Company.