Gabor Dornyei


My name is Gábor Dörnyei, born 17 December, 1977 in southern Hungary located university town Szeged. I have an educated family, my father studied law and my mother works as an economist. In my childhood I used to do a lot of sports, but at the age of 12 music showed up in my life and wiped out everything else in no time. I started to play the drums right away instinctively since no other member of the family played any music.

In 1990 I enrolled to Gábor Bedo in Ferenc Liszt Music School in Szeged. It was around that time that we formed our first heavy metal band, mainly consisting of local buddies, named Holdcore. Then after I played in numerous local bands and did practice a lot in the Downtown Rock Club. Joining the band called Gőzerő (Steam Power) meant a great step forward to me because besides lots of local concerts we participated in national festivals as well.

In 1995 the day of the first CD recording finally arrived: it was Gozero: Lánc-lánc Eszterlánc. I was about 17 that time already having a few students to teach them drumming. I teach ever since privately. In the same year, I started taking classes from Péter Szendofi in Budapest, which greatly influenced my later life. I was inspired by the enthusiasm and discipline of Péter, and so it is today. I began practicing even more than I used to. Thank You, Péter!

Couple months later with Péter's recommendation, I had the chance to play in the Budapest Congress Hall on the 2nd Drummers' Gala with Steve Smith on stage, which turned out to be my first professional show-up in Hungary. Later Péter asked me to substitute him in a band called White Chocolates and as a result of this I began to receive many invitations to different bands and plays, for example the 1996 Friderika Tour, which was my first national tour and professional hire.

In 1997 I went to Germany on tour with a musical band. It was a huge experience for me, we traveled through whole Germany, we spent time in Austria, France and Switzerland as well. Hardly did I step into my apartment in Budapest when the phone rang: another invitation to the Bahamas… I was twenty that time, no need to ask me twice…. I was immediately on my way.

Another successful period followed, by that time I had already moved to Budapest. In 1999, my ever since successful business relationship with Kriszta Kovács started. In the same year I toured around the country with Tamás Hevesi presenting his latest record „Vagyok”, and recorded musical CD-s for the Piccolo Theater, which is successor of the legendary Rock Theater. After this I joined the live performance band of Crystal. It was around their first Golden Record Award and the Golden Giraffe Award when I played with them, we toured a lot, even made it to Poland.

In the summer of 2001, as another important thing in my life, I started working on my own multimedia CD. I felt that I kind of finally have found myself in regard to what I was trying to express, that was the time when my percussive style of drumming began to evolve. To my great pleasure the acceptation of the record was very good, I had CD debut concerts and held drum workshops all around the country.

Gabor Dornyei Quartet: It was wintertime 2002, when due to an accidental invitation I formed my own group, the Dörnyei Gábor Trio, with Miklós Birta on guitar, György Frey on bass. Unconventionally we had our first gig in Leva, Slovakia. Later the trio became a Quartet with Áron Romhányi on keyboards, and lately Csepregi Gyula shows up more often as a fantastic saxophone and flute player on our concerts.

Let's just not forget about the Hungarian happenings: I regularly played at the Cegléd Drummers Gala, the Drummers' Carnival, along with other shows of high standard. At the 2004 Drummers Gala – I was awarded the Golden Drumstick – the award of the Foundation for the Hungarian Percussion Instrument Culture. Soon after this I went to Japan, playing on an ocean cruiser, which also was an incredible experience, since I have always been attracted to the Japanese culture – probably because of doing karate in my childhood. I spent four months out there, and upon my return I immediately was asked to join the EmErTon award (jazz group of the year) winner band Jazzpression, with whom we toured half the Continent, besides playing many local events. In Romania, we won the “Best Foreign Performance” award.

In the same year István Lerch invited me to participate in his concert named 50 th Symphony, in the Budapest Congress Center, where I had the pleasure to play with Charlie, Andrea Malek, Kati Kovács, Zsuzsa Koncz and the Cotton Club Singers. This concert has been released already on CD and DVD. It has been an outstanding experience to have the honor to play with one of the greatest hit-composers of the country.

During the year 2005, I continuously played with Jazzpression, Kovátsmuhely, Dörnyei Quartet, Unisex, Funking etc. bands. In summer I was teaching jazz-drumming at a Big-band Camp, and had the time meanwhile to form the ever since successfully operating Kornél Horváth- Gábor Dörnyei duo, with great expectations. Later in 2005, I was also honored to have been invited to join the Hungarian National Radio as professional drummer of the legendary band Studio 11. This is also a great challenge for me, highest level studio jobs and music reading.

In 2006, I carried on playing concerts with all the above mentioned bands, and made numerous studio recordings, besides live gigs as well, with the official jazz band of the Hungarian National Radio, to which hundreds of thousands listened sometimes. In the same year we did a recording for Walt Disney Company and in the gaps between the summer festivals Jazzpression’s third CD had also been recorded. Soon after I joined Adagio, popular vocal trio, and recorded their 2nd album, which made it to Golden Disc only 2 weeks after its’ launch and went on to become Platinum a little after. In the meantime, I carried on working with Kornél Horváth, we had several drums-percussion concerts and drum workshops, master classes as well.

In December 2006, after prolonged preparation, the work on my long awaited second solo album has finally started. This time, I invited 17 top-of-the line jazz musicians to play with me on this special multimedia CD, containing 9 songs and a video track as well. To my greatest satisfaction, this recording features numerous specialties and has been praised many times ever since it has been out on the market.

The start of 2007 was extremely busy as well. After the big success of my second solo album, I received plenty of invitations to play in drum festivals and music shows nationwide: events such as the Media Wave Festival, Hangfoglalas, Drummers Carnival-Budapest, Zalaegerszeg Drum Fest, Cegled Drummers Gala, Sziget Feszt.

At the same time we were recording, both in the studios and live with the National Radio Big Band; tracks featuring great performers like Andrea Szulak, Barna Pely, the Feri Varga-Betty Balassy Duo, Bela Szakcsi Lakatos, the Zoltan Bereczky-Dora Szinetar Duo, and many others...

That April I took part in another prestigious gig with the multi award-winning composer, Istvan Lerch, at the Palace of Arts in Budapest; and only a month later with the Adagio band (a platinum-selling vocal trio) at the same venue. Throughout the rest of the year I continued gigging with the Dornyei Quartet, Csepregi Hip-Bop, The 4G and the Gabor Majsai Band, playing in the biggest musical theatres in town.

In July – under the direction of Marton Racz- we presented Jekyll and Hyde - the musical on the Margit Sziget Open Air stage and in October we recorded a new soundtrack for the Walt Disney Productions.

As my thirtieth birthday crept up I organised a CD debut concert at the Almassy Square Concert Centre. This has been recorded by the Duna Television and released on DVD by Hunnia Records under the title DRUMS, MUSIC AND FRIENDS! Then... I then packed up my gear and in November 2007 moved over to London, England!

You'd be right to ask me: after this amount of successful work, and all these achievements, why would someone want to leave their home country? The answer is in the question itself – I felt as if I couldn't get any further in our beloved little country - I had used all my cards, played at all the big festivals … from now on I could only be repeating past successes.

After this I had to face a few bitter months - sitting in front of the computer and trying to build an online network in my new home and then sitting in on unpaid jam sessions, each and every night! But that's how it was… despite my achievements and the reputation I'd managed to build up in the last nearly 20 years, I had to start my career from nothing again. I think, it must might have been the hardest period of my whole musical life both financially and artistically.

Thankfully I didn't give up because in early 2008 the phone started ringing and from my new connections I started receiving concert invitations and began taking on private drum students. A couple of bands even offered me residency gigs at places like The Wheatsheaf and the Bar Music Hall. From that foot in the door, I was soon gigging everywhere around town and getting to know even more musicians, acquiring more students, and eventually I was receiving studio work requests as well. It was the saxophonist from one of the bands who recommended I audition with the Harris Academy in Bermondsey, and there I was subsequently offered a post as Head of Drums.

At the studio recording of the jazzband “Outrance”, I met Mike Guy, who passed on my CV and recommended me to the Musical Supervisor of the 2009 UK/European Thriller Live Tour. He offered me the position of tour drummer and in February 2009 we hit the road on a six-month tour of England, Holland, Wales, the Czech Republic, Scotland and Germany. During this time I've occasionally substituted for the drummer on the West End version of the show as well.

We were in Manchester when we heard the shocking news that Michael Jackson had died... the whole company was devastated by it. We all wondered whether the tour would or could continue without his inspiration but his tragic death has only raised the demand for the show. So it was that in September 2009 we launched a second long tour of England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Eventually, this tour was extended from nine to twelve months and now we find ourselves on a World Tour: after four weeks in Greece we're going to be in China and then, South Africa.

In February 2010 the UK's biggest-selling drum magazine, The RHYTHM, listed me as one of the “10 best new drummers to watch out for worldwide”, which was an absolute delight to me...!

So, here we are at the moment, and who knows what the future brings..?? :-)

Finally, but primarily, I want to thank God above for his love and support, and for letting me spend my life using the talents I have been given to do what I love the best! Drumming!!


Thriller Live Band