Darren began playing drums at age 15 by forming a band with his high school friends and covering Iron Maiden and Metallica songs. At 19 he fell in love with Latin Jazz and began formal studies in music at Mt. Hood Community College near Portland, OR. Transferring to Portland State University he began studies in classical percussion with Dr. Joel Bluestone. In 1994 he transferred to the University of North Texas, and studied drum set with Ed Soph, marimba with Leigh Howard Stevens, Brazilian percussion with Renato Pereira, Afro-Cuban percussion with Jose Aponte and classical percussion with Dr. Robert Schietroma, Ron Fink and others.
In 1998 he earned a BA in Music from UNT and a scholarship for graduate work at New York University’s Steinhardt School. Soon after arriving in New York City he was invited by Valerie Naranjo to play her Marimba I chair in The Lion King on Broadway. He played that show for four years along with some of NYC’s finest musicians including drummer Tommy Igoe and bassist Tom Barney. At NYU he studied composition with Dr. Joe Church, drum set and timbales with Vince Cherico, Jazz arranging with Barry Olsen, marimba with Valerie Naranjo, conga drums with Wilson “Chembo” Corniel and Daniel Sadownick, and performed in Arturo O'Farrill’s Latin Jazz ensemble. In 2001 Darren presented his Master’s Thesis, “Performing Latin Jazz in the style of Tito Rodriguez, Machito, and Tito Puente.” The concert featured a 12 piece Latin Jazz band that included some of New York City’s finest Salsa musicians, including John Walsh on trumpet and Bernie Miñoso on bass.
While in New York Darren also studied dance at the Joffrey Ballet company, as well as Taiko drumming with Marco Lienhardt, formerly with Ondekoza of Japan. He played concerts in NY, CT and FL with Marco’s own taiko ensemble, Taikoza, as well as a large show at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He performed as a Blue Man in the Blue Man Group show. He was a dancer and percussionist in a show called Tribal Fire that performed at Lollapalooza. He performed at Carnegie Hall with the Polish-American Symphony, and directed his own Latin Jazz ensemble in weekly engagements at the Up Over Jazz Cafe in Brooklyn, NY.
In 2003 he was appointed principal percussionist with a US Army band stationed at Fort Gordon, GA. While there he performed with classical, big band swing, salsa and marching ensembles. While in Georgia he toured the East Coast with Sabor! The Latin Jazz Ensemble and was adjunct faculty at Georgia Regents University Music Conservatory program.
Darren has been the recipient of two Meet the Composer Mid-Western Alliance Grants for his compositions for modern dance companies, one of which was nominated for “Best Original Music” by the Austin Critics Circle Award. Since moving to Los Angeles, he has kept busy with recording sessions, teaching, and performing.