At 8 tonight in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (341 Delaware Ave.), a drummer is going to perform solo. But don't get your hopes up, Iron Butterfly fans -- Susie Ibarra isn't the kind of stick-wielder that'll have you raising your lighters in deference to the majesty of rock.
She is, however, a revered, eclectic jazz player with heavy ties to traditional Filipino music. Her performance will feature compositions off her latest record, "Drum Sketches," on drum kit and a Filipino gong called a "sarunay." So while Ibarra might not satisfy those who can still endure "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," she'll surely please any music fan that enjoys listening out of the box.
>Can you explain the sarunay and how it's played?
It is a smaller version of the eight-rowed Philippine gongs, the kulintang, from the southern island of the Philippines, Mindanao. The sarunay is a small brass xylophone, which can be hammer tuned. It is played with sticks.
>Do you follow a set list when playing solo?
I have a set list, but I'm also an improviser, so I tend to change things around.
>What drew you to the drums initially?
I actually started playing classical piano when I was 4. I didn't start playing drums until I was 16, when I played in a punk band in Houston. That was a lot of fun.
>How about Filipino music?
I am second generation Filipina-American. I started gong music as a teenager. As a child, I saw the kulintang in my uncle's home, but I did not play it or hear it played till later. As a teenager, I began playing in several gong music ensembles of Philippine Kulintang and Javanese and Balinese Gamelan. I think it was a natural evolvement as a percussionist.
>Your influences are all over the map. Is there a certain style you're rooted in?
As a performer or as a composer, that's tough. On the drumkit, I'm an improviser. I'm really rooted in jazz.
>The world of percussion seems to be quite the boys club. Has that made it harder for you?
It's always a struggle, being a minority in my gender and my race. Unfortunately, it's not the only profession where this is true.
>How many times have you been asked to play "Wipeout"?
Not a lot, but a couple times, actually. [Laughs.] Don't expect to hear it on Friday!
-- Joe Sweeney, Special to the News