Thursday, March 22, 2018
Those who know me will recognize my appreciation for the art form of tap dancing and of its important relationship to the practice of Jazz drumming. Playing with tap dancers is one of my favourite things to do! I'm always amazed at their seamless sense of rhythmic phrasing, syncopation and movement.
My first introduction to tap was from listening to the seminal Jo Jones album "The Drums" in which Papa Jo imitates the sounds of his favourite tap dancers. Recently I've been digging what little I've seen of Savion Glover's collaborations with Marcus Gilmore and Jack DeJohnette.
I recently worked with a number of world class tap dancers (including Heather Cornell and Travis Knights) as part of the annual Rhythm, Body and Soul Festival produced by Tasha Lawson and the Tri-Tone Rhythm Society, in my hometown of Calgary, AB.
In corresponding with Heather Cornell afterwards, she praised the work of percussionist Jesse Stewart with whom she presented a tap and drums duo performance, as part of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (see Tim Mah's earlier guest blog post for a full report). This is an ongoing project so look for these two master artists on a stage near you.
And fortunately for us, here's a couple clips of this recent collaboration between tap master Cornell and percussionist Stewart:
Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Handpan Sand Dance from Hazi on Vimeo.
Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Music for wooden box and wooden mocks from Hazi on Vimeo.
Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Water wood from Hazi on Vimeo.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Not sure about you or wherever you are, but around here Winter has been dragging its heels for some time now. Enough of Winter. Please bring on Spring.
Anyways, enough with the depressing weather reports and here's what's been making the rounds over here in the Four on the Floor news room lately. Upwards and Onwards!
- Lewis Porter on Gene Krupa's legacy via WBGO:
- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along this gem of a resource, Gene Perla's personal loft recordings which feature a who's who of important Jazz artists he's collaborated with:
- Portland's Alan Jones interviewed via Coffeehouse Conversations:
- Art Blakey offers some sage advice to Ben Sidran courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Centre:
- Brett Primack's tribute to Roy Haynes, the hippest man in the known universe, who recently turned 93 years young last week:
- John Riley interviewed at Drummer Nation:
- A short solo statement from Jack DeJohnette from an outdoor performance at Woodstock taken a few years ago:
- What's better than a band with a swinging drummer? A band with TWO swinging drummers! Here's pianist Emmet Cohen's trio featuring Evan Sherman and Joe Saylor:
- Just a beautiful ballad featuring New York's Tyler Blanton on vibes with some tasteful brushwork from Johnathan Blake from a recent hit at New York's Mezzrow Jazz club:
- I've really been digging this trio out of Chicago lately: bassist Clark Sommer's Ba(SH) Trio featuring Geof Bradfield on tenor saxophone and powerhouse Dana Hall on drums:
- Montreal's Jazz drumming icon Dave Laing explores Herbie Hancock's piano solo on "Eye of the Hurricane", orchestrating it around the drums:
- One more from Portland's Alan Jones, one of my favourite drummers these days:
- What am I listening to these days?
Jodi Proznick "Sun Songs" - Jesse Cahill (drums)
Adam Nussbaum "The Leadbelly Project" - Adam Nussbaum (drums)
Various "Drums of Death: Field Recordings in Ghana" - Ashanti/Ewe Tribes of Ghana (drums/percussion)
David Braid Sextet "Zhen: David Braid Sextet Live, Vol. 2" - Terry Clarke (drums)
Bud Powell Trio "A Portrait of Thelonious" - Kenny Clarke (drums)
- And today's Last Word goes to Adam Nussbaum (special thanks to Roger Johansen who posted this one on FB):
"The drum thing is different than guitar players or trumpet players. There’s a more competitive thing going on there with those instruments. But with drummers, it’s more of a brotherhood. And at the end of the day, we know that the quickest way to change the sound of the band is to change the drummer. We can make a band, we can break a band. And there’s a certain camaraderie. We all get together and it’s a good feeling, it’s a beautiful scene, man. You know, we’re all just trying to get that groove together...make the band feel good, make everybody happy. That’s why we’re going to work. It ain’t about us sounding good, it’s about helping the band sound good."
- Adam Nussbaum
Thursday, March 15, 2018
This rare resource recently popped up on the Tube, featuring Baby Dodds and a host of other drummers from the Crescent City I've never even heard of...(although apparently this obscure footage has been available on VHS for some time?)
Anyways, check this out and then get to work on your press rolls!
Monday, March 12, 2018
About five years ago I had the opportunity to work with saxophonist Ralph Bowen and play a concert of his music arranged for big band. It was a wonderful experience and I also took advantage of the opportunity to take a lesson with him during his time in Calgary. Ralph is a serious musician with huge ears and he KNOWS drummers and drumming when he hears them so I was very interested in his perspective on my own playing. We spent the better part of an afternoon playing saxophone and drum duets.
One idea that he suggested that I explore more closely was a phrasing concept, the idea of emphasizing more of the 2nd triplet of each beat in my comping patterns, when playing a slow to medium tempo swing groove.
Something like this:
Of course, to my ears anyways, this immediately suggests the drumming of Elvin Jones who was famous for his triplet-laced comping style and his own unique emphasis of the 2nd triplet within his own timekeeping phrases.
So I came up with a few exercises to further develop this concept:
1) Mess around with the orchestration of every 2nd triplet of each beat of the bar, playing it on the snare drum, tom tom, floor tom, bass drum and hi-hat, mixing it up in different combinations, all while keeping Time on the ride cymbal. Once you are comfortable with this and can get a nice flow happening, start to leave the occasional note out. Think compositionally and get comfortable with the placement and feeling of that 2nd "inner" triplet.
Here's a couple more fun exercises to further explore this concept:
2) Play the Jazz ride cymbal rhythm (right hand) with the 2nd triplet as a constant rhythmic ostinato on the snare drum (left hand).
Then using Stick Control, add a constant eighth-note shuffle between your feet, orchestrating it as follows:
R= bass drum
You'll find that you will create a constant stream of triplets underneath your ride cymbal but the feet will never line up with the 2nd triplet on the snare drum. Clever eh?
3) Same idea as above except use Page 37 etc. from Syncopation and orchestrate the rhythms between your feet while your right hand plays the Jazz ride cymbal beat and your left hand plays the 2nd triplet of each beat as an ostinato on the snare drum.
a) bass drum = long notes
hi-hat = short notes
c) bass drum = Any rhythm that lines up on beats 1 and 3 (including the +'s)
hi-hat = Any rhythm that lines up beats 2 and 4 (including the +'s)
Take it slow and remember: Keep it Swinging!
*Perhaps try playing the hi-hat as an open "splash" sound when interpreting it as a "long" rhythm...
Monday, March 5, 2018
Today marks the first of what will hopefully be a regular, on-going series of guest blog posts from my friend and great Irish Jazz drummer Conor Guilfoyle. He's been posting lessons on YouTube.com for quite some time now and I've always admired not only his wonderful information but also his excellent delivery and concise explanations as well.
Today Conor offers us an excellent explanation on how to use odd-grouping subdivisions over a triplet subdivision:
And here's the written companion to this piece:
To learn more about Conor's activities check out his website www.conorguilfoyle.com (there are also many more great lessons to check out here) and this interview from irishdrummers.com:
Thanks again Conor and see you next time!