Nir Z


So in the winter of 2006, Michael Sokolowski was negotiating a Virginia highway through the quiet of the driving snow when he decided he needed the company of some high-energy music. Fishing around his storage console, he pulled out a copy of Genesis' criminally overlooked CD from 1997, Calling All Stations. A huge longtime fan, Mike had lately been thinking that this was perhaps Genesis' best-sounding recording -- powerful, well-sculpted mixes with sumptuous layers of sounds, but featuring a welcome, non-fatiguing "airiness" that previous Genesis records somehow seemed to lack. Naturally, the performances were top-notch, but it was a different band; Phil Collins had left and the remaining core duo -- Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks -- had replaced him with an amazing singer (Ray Wilson of Stiltskin) and an equally amazing drummer called Nir Z. The album was a return to a darker, "proggier" Genesis, and the new members' chops and vision were tested as they performed a challenging array of compositions. Sokolowski was fairly knocked out by both the singing and the drumming, noting that the drummer seemed to have married a heavy, almost Kenny Aronoff-like groove to the masterful time conceptions of a Billy Cobham. Never overplaying, always hewing to the sometimes-complex arrangements, all the while maintaining forward motion.

As big, fluffy snowflakes piled on the hood of the Subaru, Michael had a flash of inspiration: this is the guy who could play the In November Sunlight material. The idea didn't even qualify as a longshot -- more of a pie-in-the-sky dream. Houston and Mike had long talked about finding a drummer who had the chops along with the restraint to not showcase them for their own sake. Long story short, the band somehow made it happen and Nir is now fully on board, having contributed magnificent work to the project. The man's devotion to his craft is an inspiration to musicians whose focus is to make the best possible music they can.