Alan Eckert’s dreams of playing music professionally started early, growing up in a family of musicians. “I started playing drums when I was ten years old and it took off really fast,” the musician shares. “It was naturally my instrument and right away it was something I knew I would want to do forever.” Alan played in marching and jazz band all through high school, plus rock bands with his friends. He played piano more as a teenager, when he began writing as well.
“My parents and my sister are musicians, so it’s a family thing,” Alan shares. His father is a saxophone professor and the Director of Jazz studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, while his mother was a singer. “So it was cool to get the spark to play jazz from my Dad and also to realize eventually that I had a good enough voice to sing and write songs. That definitely comes from my mom’s side of the gene pool,” Alan shares. His sister Elizabeth Eckert-Ross is also musically inclined. Based out of New York, she recently shot a music video for The Deer, one of Alan’s bands.
Originally from Stephens City, Virginia, Alan made his way to Austin after attending the University of North Texas’s jazz program on scholarship in Denton. “Everyone kept telling me I should move down here,” Alan shares. He joined a band called Dimitri’s Ascent which paved the way for his move to Austin. “I had drum and piano students, took a leap of faith, and immersed myself in the Austin music scene. I played with Jack Wilson, Rebecca Loebe, and I had a lot of friends that gave me gigs.”
The Alan Eckert Trio is comprised of Colin Shook on piano, Daniel Durham on bass, and Alan Eckert on drums. The trio is mainly instrumental jazz, “but we make it funky, and something you can dance to, while also being intricate,” Alan explains. “The cool thing about the trio is that we take the beat from a modern hip hop tune and put it to a jazz standard, so we play the melody of the jazz standard to the rhythm of something modern." Get a feel for the Alan Eckert Trio here.
Alan says a lot of his influences come from “a weird combination of some of the latest hip hop and some of the latest indie rock, and indie pop. One day I’ll listen to Hamilton Leithauser, then Kendrick Lamar, but I also spend a lot of time transcribing and listening to Tribe called Quest, and all the jazz standards: Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, and Horace Silver.”
One of the most frequent compliments Alan receives is about his smile and how much fun he is having when he’s on drums. I asked if he had any advice for other musicians starting out and what could keep them smiling. “Absolutely,” he says. “First: Never stop practicing. But also, one of the most important things you can do is to go hang out and see as much music as possible in whatever city you’re in. The most important thing is to make friends and learn from everyone else around you. Eventually you will see you have a lot to offer those friends as well. Its’ a cyclical thing – you can’t just sit in your practice room and become proficient at your instrument. You have to go out and challenge yourself socially, you have to branch out and start gigging. In order to survive as a musician you have to meet people, be a social creature, constantly play with new people, and constantly put your name out there.”
In Alan’s immediate future, The Deer have a big show coming up at Mohawk June 23rd. with Kalu and Electric Joint, and Batty Jr. (link to fb event). “The Deer have been playing like crazy, and in the midst of that touring, we finished our 4th album that will be out in the next year,” Alan shares. He also recently recorded an album with Jay Stiles (who plays with A-Town Getdown and Patrice Pike).