Benzel Baltimore – George Clintion & the Parliament Funk

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Benzel Baltimore, The man that holds the drum throne for George Clinton & Parliament Funk! For those of you who don’t know Benzel, he was born into the musical lifestyle. His father is Bennie “The General” Cowan, master trumpeter, and part of the original Parliment lineup!

Welcome back to Drummers I like, Kevin here with this weeks article on the legendary Benjamin ” Benzel Baltimore ” Cowan! Being born into the funk scene and having a professional musician for a father helped to make Benzel the amazing drummer he is today. Benzel Baltimore started playing at the age of two. He took the right approach learning his craft and honed those skills early on studying with some of the greats like Steve Smith, Dave Weckl, Horacio Hernandez, and Pat Petrillo. He was even mentored by the great Dennis Chambers! Benzel is wise beyond his years and at times has an old school approach that’s rarely seen in younger generations of drummers.

We had a chance to talk about a few things with Benzel and ask him some questions about some of the greats he’s studied with, preference on drum gear, and teaching drums.
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D.I.L.: Can you describe a little about being mentored by Dennis Chambers?
Benzel: Having Dennis Chambers as a mentor and family friend is a blessing, it’s humbling and it’s also scary because you never know when he’s going to show up! One of my greatest fears was him turning up to hear me play. The times that I remember getting with Dennis on drums, he would always make me play and he would watch, which was very scary for me because he’s perfect. He used to make me cry sometimes. He told me to keep my ears open, to watch and listen to everything and attempt anything. He’s fast, but he taught me you need to be able to do things slow first. I can play in front of him now and he’ll laugh. It made me realize that things aren’t impossible. They may sound and seem impossible, but someone’s doing it so it can be done.
D.I.L.: I think being that close to a living legend on the drums must have been amazing when learning your craft. 
Benzel: Growing up knowing him was a part of the driving force that makes me do what I do today. He always told me to not try to be as good as him but try to be better than him.
D.I.L.: I see that you had a chance to study with Horacio Hernandez. Tell us what that experience was likeHe’s always been a personal favorite of mine.
Benzel: 
Getting with Horacio was a life changing experience. Through meeting him, not only did we become great friends, but I learned the art of 4-way independence.
D.I.L.: I know touring keeps you busy, but it looks like you do a bit of teaching. Can you tell us a bit about your approach as a teacher and mentor and what a new student might expect when studying with you? 
Benzel: In teaching my students, I start at their level. I share secrets that we should all know about drumming and push them to the next level in their playing. At the same time, I also show them the requirements of being able to do a successful gig. Not only that, but I work strongly on improvisation, technique, and groove.
D.I.L.: You have sick improv skills. Can you tell us if there was anything that helped you develop those skills? 
Benzel: Listening to and learning various styles of music, long hours of practicing and just turning on the metronome and soloing to it. To this day, I still watch Dennis Chambers and various other great drummers in order to keep up with the times and I’m always looking out for the next generation, to learn from them too.
D.I.L.: Are you a drum gear guy? That custom painted snare looks amazing. Tell us about your set up. 
Benzel: Drum gear was never super important to me until I got my first custom made drum set. From that point, I became very particular about what I played. I’m endorsed by 1710 Percussion, a Maryland-based company, and the drums are amazing. On the road, my set up is 10 12 15 16 toms, a 22-inch base drum and a 14 x 6 beech and birch mixed snare. But most of the time I use my Benzel Baltimore signature snare, which is 14 x 7 and made out of walnut. It has the biggest sound ever. Of course obviously, I prefer Zildjian cymbals. I play an 18 and 19-inch crash, an 8-inch splash, a 22-inch ride and a 17-inch china….
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So that’s about it for our post today! We can’t thank Benzel enough for taking the time to answer our questions and welcome him to our site. We look forward to bringing you more on Benzel Baltimore from the road and home. Make sure to visit his social media sites and let us know what you think of this amazingly talented drummer. Make sure to keep checking back at drummersilike.net for the latest with your favorite drummers. As always let us know who you want to hear from and we’ll do our best to bring you the stories!

 

 

 

Benzel Baltimore Links

Instagram: @benzelbmore

Facebook: facebook.com/benzelbmore

Twitter: @benzelbmore

GCATPF: George Clinton Parliment Funkadelic Show 

Drummers I Like Links

website: www.drummersilike.net

Instagram: @drummersilike

Facebook: facebook.com/Drummersilike

Twitter: @drummersilike

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