Our Spotlight on the Arts is shining brightly on local drummer and musician extraordinaire Ambus Hunter!
Ambus is a multi-talented artist well-recognized as part of the jazz trio Higher Standards. His musical journey has included drumming from a very young age, a lucky craigslist ad resulting in the formation of a successful band of 10+ years now, and a very extensive personal vinyl record collection!
How long have you been involved with participation with your art form?
According to my mother (laughs), I first started banging on pots, pans, and furniture, when I heard Michael Jackson’s “Bad” as a baby. I would have been around 3 at the time. My parents nurtured my interest, and I participated in various grade school and high school bands. I eventually enrolled as a Jazz Studies major at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) under the tutelage of the late Dr. Roger B. Schupp.
Midway through college, I switched to the College of Business but remained involved with BGSU’s Jazz Program. Upon graduating, I started a civilian career with the Department of Defense, which eventually led to my relocation to Southern Maryland to support Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAVAIR).
Wanting to get back into playing music professionally, I posted a craigslist ad advertising myself as an available local drummer. A guy by the name of Frank Smith responded, and said he knew this fantastic guitar player by the name of Alex Bizzarro. After a brief meeting, we formed the Higher Standards Jazz Trio and have been playing together for over 10 years now!
What have been your past and/or present inspirations?
I was fortunate to grow up in a house where my parents listened to quality music. Some of my early influences were classic soul, R&B, and gospel artists. Michael Jackson, Isaac Hayes, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, and Walter Hawkins are some of my favorites. As I got older, I gravitated towards Mint Condition, Dave Matthews Band, Erykah Badu, Art Blakey, The Yellowjackets, and others. My favorite drummer continues to be Will Kennedy of the Yellowjackets, although my “complete” list of drumming influences would have at least 100 names on it.
Do you have a favorite style or other similar aspects of what you do?
Performing music was my first love and continues to be my main form of creative expression. When on stage with my bandmates, we are having an organic musical conversation. Every conversation is unique, and even if it’s a song we’ve played before, we never quite know where it may take us. That’s what makes jazz beautiful; it’s an expression of how we feel in that exact moment.
What are a few of your other interests or occupations outside of your art that you would like to share with us?
While I have been drumming since I was three years old, my main “gig” is within the Federal Government at NAVAIR. I am also an Accredited Financial Counselor through the Association of Financial Planning Counseling & Education where I operate a private practice.
When not working, I enjoy keeping in shape and expanding my record collection of classic film scores, most notably from the James Bond movie franchise.
Thank you, Ambus, for sharing your stories with us and being a valued part of our artistic community, we look forward to seeing you soon!
Links of Interest
Higher Standards – Facebook
Higher Standards – ReverbNation
Upcoming Concert – The Higher Standards Jazz Trio will be playing from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Leonardtown Square on September 2nd for the Arts & Entertainment First Friday/ Art Walk event. Come by and meet Ambus and his bandmates in person!
Details at: https://www.visitleonardtownmd.com/firstfridays