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Tell me A little Q&A

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

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