When a precocious 5 year-old Oscar Seaton created his own drum set out of his mom’s pots and pans, his parents knew something special was at work here. His dad bought him his first real set of drums at the age of 10. By the time he was a teen, Seaton was playing for his church. Soon after, he was intrigued by Jazz with its straight ahead sound and progressions.
Fast forward a few years, Seaton started working in clubs and at gigs in his hometown of Chicago. This would lead to loyal jobs accompanying some of the most famous artists in the world, from Lionel Richie, Queen Latifah and film composer A.R. Rahman to revered Jazz artists like George Benson, Joe Sample and Ramsey Lewis. Seaton cites Lewis as one of his early mentors. “Ramsey told me to have big ears and just hear,” says Seaton. “He is the first artist who taught me how to play soft but to have intensity – to just have a groove.”
That groove is more than apparent on Breathless (Blue Note Records), the first album by the newly-formed quintet E-Collective, fronted by Seaton’s longtime friend, trumpeter and composer [5-time Grammy-winner] Terence Blanchard along with Charles Altura (guitar), Fabian Almazan (piano/synths), Donald Ramsey (bass) and Seaton (on drums). The album has three songs featuring popular Maroon 5 member PJ Morton.
“It was a year in the works,” says Seaton about the Grammy-nominated Breathless, which just earned a nod for Best Jazz Instrumental album. “We’re so excited to have our first album nominated.” But this was more than about getting award recognitions, says Seaton. “We had a purpose for this project. We’re really saying something powerful in the album and people feel its energy. This record is about saving our kids, black kids who are getting killed every day. It’s nuts what’s going on out there. It’s about Black Lives Matter. That’s why we named it Breathless.”
According to Seaton, there are plans for another E-Collective album which the band will be working on soon. In the meantime, 2016 looks to be an incredibly busy year for the acclaimed drummer who expects to be on the road performing six months out of the year with trips to Brazil, South Africa, Las Vegas and 10 weeks in Europe on the docket. “I live life one day at a time. Whatever God’s will is, I will do,” Seaton says. “Everything I told you doesn’t necessarily have to happen. One call – from a group like The Rolling Stones [wishfully thinking out loud] – can change your life.”