I started playing drums at age 12 with a self-made drum kit, made from washing powder boxes. I even succeeded to build something that looked and worked like a hihat-machine with a mouse-trap as a foot pedal. After one year bashing on these boxes without loosing interest, my parents came to the opinion, that their little boy was really made for drumming and they bought me a real drum set. With age 14, I had my first drum teacher. I learned basic drum techniques and how to read music.

I played in the school band and in the local orchestra, I had my own rock'n roll band and by the age of 17, I had the chance to play in a Big Band. After school, I studied jazz-drumming with Joop van Erven in Arnheim. During the nineties I was touring with the experimental rock band xThe Partsx and we recorded several CDs.

1996, I met Mark Gillespie and I have been his drummer ever since. Up till now, we recorded 5 CDs and one Live DVD. We have played on many major festivals all over Europe including the famous Cropredy folk festival in England.

Markus Leukel

Apart from the Mark Gillespie Band, I am playing and recording with „Browning“ (Latin jazz), the David Frenkel Trio (acoustic jazz), Tom Liwa (singer/songwriter), Tony Hudspeth (Blues Rock-guitarist from England), Holger Lisy (Jazzguitarist), Akumamba Molongua (african highlife music from Benin), Kassadondo (percussion band, playing rhythms from Cuba, Brasil and West Africa), Afrodisia (traditional music from Senegal, Mali and Guinea) and many more, just to name a few.

A very challenging recent project is the band TWÄNG! We recorded our first album in january 2008. We play only original compositions with elements of jazz, rock and world music.

Starting in 2003, I developed a system, how to play the complex polyrhythms of the mandingue people from West Africa, famous for their great djembe playing, on the drum set. Since December 2005, my first textbook on African drumming “Afro-Drums” is available and I’m introducing these rhythms to the drumming community in my drum clinics and workshops.

In the autumn of 2005, I was on workshoptour with my book "Afro-Drums". In the downtown music institute in Augsburg, I met the brazilian percussionist Borel de Sousa, who worked there as a teacher. We began to converse and found out, that we were both thinking about writing a book about brazilian rhythms. On my way home, I couldn't help thinking that it would be a great idea to collaborate with Borel on the writing of a book. I phoned Borel and he liked the idea immediately. We met many times in Augsburg where Markus Becker, the owner of the downtown music institute was so kind to provide a rehearsal room and instruments for our work. Thanks again, Markus, for your support.

In summer 2006, Borel and I went to Salvador, the hometown of Borel. It was a great experience, to see and hear the world of the Bloco Afros, the Capoeira and the Candomblé.

Loaded with CDs, DVDs and a head full of numerous impressions, we went back and started with the writing down of our book and the recording of the sound samples.

Half a year later, we finished the book and immediately found a publisher. The guys from artist-ahead, really nice people, took us under contract. Since november 2007, the book is available and we are looking forward for following collaborations.

A new chapter: the Cape Verde Project

In september 2007, I was on tour with the Mark Gillespie Band. I think it was in Bochum when I went to a CD shop just for killing time. There I noticed the CD "Navega" from that beautiful capeverdean young women Mayra Andrade. I did not know her at that time and her music was like a revelation to me. From that day on, I bought more and more CDs from capeverdean musicians such as Lura, Tito Paris, Teofilo Chantre, Bana, Ildo Lobo, Cesaria Evora, Simentera, Maria de Barros, u.s.w.

With every new CD, my wish to visit these islands increased. In may 2008, I made my first voyage. It was incredible. After finishing the book "Ritmos do Brasil" I was looking for another project and there I found it. Together with Mario Lúcio, musical director of the band Simentera, I will work on the first documentation of capeverdean rhythms. I met Mario the first time on his german tour in january 2008 where we considered such a project. Now, it has come true and in the future, I will spend a lot of time on the islands, transcribing the fascinating rhythms.

Capeverdean music is a unique mixture of african, european and latinamerican elements. Due to the lack of suitable woods for building drums and the restrictive attitude of the portuguese colonial power against everything that appeared "african", capeverdeans found their own special way to integrate rhythm into their music.