Between 2004 to 2008, aged 14 to 18, I was very lucky to study with an incredible teacher and drummer in Paris, named Thomas Patris.
Thomas is a very unique drummer: he dedicated his life to “solo” drumming. He composed one, and one only, piece, lasting from an hour to an hour and a half, with an absolutely crazy level of virtuosity (I believe still unmatched today) around this specific drum kit. He then deeply explored both the melodic and polyrhythmic possibilities of the drums. He regularly performed this one piece publicly, all his life. This doesn’t belong to any style of music.. it’s not jazz, rock, or whatever: see it maybe more like a contemporary percussion piece.
Not only as an artist, also as a teacher, Thomas had a profound impact on me. His high level of demand, extreme precision, constant research of excellence and virtuosity, deeply inspired me, and at a crucial age (you’re very sensitive as a teenager…!). He was also brilliantly organized and totally passionate about pedagogy. I think about his teaching every day. Today, I myself teach what I learned from him to all my students.
In September 2022, Thomas contacted me. I hadn’t heard of him for the past 14 years. He explained that due to very personal reasons, he decided to stop playing. He asked me if I would be willing to take care of his kit… he wanted to pass it to someone he trusts, someone who could play it with “passion and talent”…
The kit, in his image, is totally unique. Built by the French luthier Jacques Capelle in 1998, it is the result of years of researches and exchanges about woods, and all the best of the best materials and accessories necessary to build a drum kit; between Thomas, high level sound engineers, acousticians, and the luthier Jacques Capelle. Everything in this kit is calculated to sound the absolute best. Each cymbal is placed with precise measurements so the whole kit resonates in a very specific way. The 7 toms are tuned in a pentatonic A Major scale. The three floor toms come from a tradition led by drummers Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. The cymbals are a collection of old Zildjian K’s and traditional Chinese cymbals from Wu-Han. The two 24” Chinese cymbals in the back are placed this way inspired by French drummer Christian Vander, Thomas’ peer. The keystone is the 34” tam-tam (= flat gong) behind it, absolutely wonderful and magical, totally unique as well, directly brought from China.
I agreed to take care of the kit and promised to play it with the love, honor, and passion it needs. I feel deeply honored, grateful, and thankful to have received this. You can see this as a heritage. If you ever had a teacher that had a profound impact on you during your youth… you might understand…
I too one day, I hope I’ll inspire a younger generation, pass my passion, and my instrument.
For fun, I call this kit “The Minotaur” !!
All toms were made by luthier Jacques Capelle in 1998, with a mix of special reserve Bird’s Eye Maple and Mahogany.
Tom 1 12“x10”
Tom 2 13“x11”
Floor 1 14“x14”
Floor 2 16“x16”
Floor 3 18“x17”
Die Cast Hoops on every toms.
2 Ride Zildjian K 20”
4 Crash Zildjian K 18"
1 Crash Zildjian K 16"
2 China Traditional Wuhan 20”
2 China Traditional Wuhan 24”
HH Sabian X-Celerator 14"
Mini Hat Sabian AA 12"
Tam-Tam Gong 34" Traditional Wuhan
All pictures by JB Millot, 01/2023