Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mr. A.T.

Just a few ones today of a drummer who, I think, should get a little more attention, Mr. Art Taylor:

Hey, if any Calgarians are reading this - please come on out to my drum clinic that I am presenting at Long & McQuade on Wednesday, December 1st at 6pm.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Art Blakey!

Let's get the weekend off to a good start with one of my old favorites, the master himself, the ever swinging Art Blakey:

Dig some impressive playing from Lee Morgan!

Special thanks to Bret Primack "The Jazz Video Guy" for hooking me up with these ones.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Peter's "Apple" Groove

Last winter I spent several weeks out at the Banff Centre participating in the first ever TD Jazz & Creative Music Residency. I had the opportunity to work and play with a number of great musicians during my time there. The faculty was also outstanding and we had the chance to work with the likes of Dafnis Prieto, Peter Apfelbaum, Phil Dwyer and Uri Caine for two weeks.

Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Peter Apfelbaum taught me this unique groove that he came up with that he used as the framework for one of his compositions that we played together as a large ensemble.

Basically it's a 7/8 backbeat type of groove phrased in three bar cycles. The bars of 7/8 are grouped as 2+2+3. Layered over-top of this groove (played between the bass drum and snare) is the hihat pattern which plays a continuous dotted quarter-note pattern with the right hand (!)

You can also think of this pattern as being one long pattern in 7 (subdivided as triplets) with the 7/8 beat layered underneath.

I've written this example with accents on all the downbeats (just to reference the pulse) but overall don't forget the left hand backbeat on the snare drum and to "ghost" the very last snare note to really make it funky.

Everyone was really scratching their heads when Peter first played this for us but once I got it, it really lends itself to a funky groove with a sideways kind of feeling to it. The dotted quarter note in the right hand really makes the rhythm of this beat "lean" forward...

Recently I've been exploring this pattern while playing the right hand hi-hat pattern on the bell of the ride cymbal while playing quarter notes with my left foot on the hi-hat (this will take two times through the whole three bar pattern in order to resolve itself properly).

Here's another variation that uses the idea of phrasing using the "big" 7. I've written this pattern as the last example but this time with a few more notes in the right hand so you end up with this variation:

So this one is basically a 7/4 swing pattern (phrased 4+3) with the same 7/8 pattern as before between the snare drum and bass drum layered underneath. This is kind of weird....maybe someday I'll find a situation to use it.

Anyways, I tried my best to notate all these using Sibelius. I apologize if it's a bit awkward to read as I can't seem to get the note groupings set exactly as I want them to be (it's certainly a bit awkward at first to play...)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Drum & Bass: Double Espresso

I love all the drum and bass duet combinations that pop up from time to time. Here's two of the masters in action on a tune called "Double Espresso": (I would suspect one would need all the caffeine one can find to keep up with these cats!)

One of my favorite things to do is to play duets with a great bass player - time, solos, trading, melodies...the whole package. I mean, if you have a happening drummer and bassist who can do it all, what else do you really need ? (lol...)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Theme For Ed Blackwell

A fine tribute to Ed Blackwell brought to us by Jesse Stewart, another fine Canadian drummer and percussionist based in Ottawa:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Drum & Bass: Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart

Special thanks to Tom McLaughlin who hipped me to this great footage of Steve and Bill playing in a masterclass somewhere in South America.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Monday Morning Paradiddle with Keith, Hutch & Pieces of Wood

-When I was in Indianapolis last week I picked up copy of Keith Copeland's great book. I had worked out of this unique approach to drum set coordination while I studied with Andre White at McGill University about ten years ago. I never owned a copy and basically had the libraries copy on permanent loan (!) I found it to be a very helpful and "meat and potatoes" approach to drum set playing and assumed that the book was out of print. So I was very happy to find it still available and bring a copy home with me. Check out this underrated book out if you get a chance.

Keith is a great drummer himself and taught extensively at the Banff Centre for the Arts during the early 90s. He also looks very sharp in a bowtie : )

-I also picked up a copy of John Metzger's comprehensive Jazz vibraphone book "The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes". Lots of work to do but I'm looking forward to working out of this great text. And of course after hearing Stefon Harris and Dave Samuels, there's no lack of inspiration either...

-Wandering the convention floor at PASIC was also a good opportunity to stock up on a few more DVDs to add to my collection. I grabbed a copy of Steve Jordan's DVD "The Groove Is Here" that features Steve's seriously indestructible backbeat:

-I forgot to mention that no trip to Indianapolis is complete without a visit to the Rhythm! Discovery Centre. Created by the Percussive Arts Society, this unique idea is a museum dedicated to all things drums, rhythm and percussion related. It's also a "hand on" experience and reminded of a real-life incarnation of Mickey Harts two great books "Planet Drum" and "Drumming On The Edge of Magic".

-Courtesy of trumpeter Patrick Boyle here's a clip of the percussion group Nexus performing Steve Reich's "Music For Pieces of Wood":


-A nice one here of bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster getting their turn on "Daahoud" with Benny Golson:

-Here's a couple of clips of drummer Gregory Hutchinson doing his thing:

It's seeing things like this that inspire me to do what I do!

-I froze my butt off yesterday afternoon at McMahon Stadium in Calgary but my beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders prevailed 20-16 over the hometown Calgary Stampeders in the CFL Western Final.
We're going to the Grey Cup!
Long live the 13th Man!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ari Hoenig & Chris Potter Duet

Now this is serious! The dynamic duo of drummer Ari Hoenig and tenor saxophonist Chris Potter unleash in this duet clip:

Oh yes, and most importantly...


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Billy Cobham w/Horace Silver

Some very cool and unique footage today - drummer Billy Cobham as you've never seen or heard him before, performing here with Horace Silver's band from a long time ago (and with no double bass drums!):

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feathering The Bass Drum: When 2 becomes 4

Last week at the PASIC 2010 conference, drummer Jeff Hamilton performed with his trio and gave a very insightful masterclass on the art of Jazz drumming. Hamilton clearly pointed out that the largest drum in the drum set is called a BASS drum and not a KICK drum (!) Big difference... : ) Hamilton also spoke about the importance of being able to "feather" the bass drum on all four beats while playing swing in 4/4 time (ie. playing a steady 4/4 pulse so it's felt rather than heard).

Now the issue of feathering the bass drum in the context of contemporary Jazz drumming is a fairly controversial one. Some drummers do it all the time, some drummers never do it and some drummers (and I include myself in this category) do it as the musical situation and context dictates. My personal opinion (and this is based on watching the masters play) is that while you might not always feather the bass drum while playing time, one certainly must be able to know how and have that as an available part of your vocabulary. And it's not easy either....which is probably why a lot of drummers refuse to acknowledge its fundamental role in Jazz timekeeping. I've seen a good number of the heavyweights play over the years and they ALL do it in some form or another at some point in their playing. Therefore, so should we all : )

But this blog post isn't about debating the validity of feathering the bass drum (as far as I'm concerned, there is NO real argument if it's done correctly) Someone asked Jeff Hamilton during his masterclass if he feathers the bass drum during fast, up tempos. Jeff acknowledged that when the tempo gets really quick (and I'm assuming when Jeff Hamilton means fast, he really means upwards of Warp 9 for the rest of us - ie. REALLY fast!) that he will switch to playing only beats 1 & 3 on the bass drum (quietly, of course) and with the hihat on 2 & 4. This got me thinking...

Years ago I heard Max Roach play and, indeed, when he was playing one of his signature break neck tempos beats 1 & 3 were clearly audible from his bass drum. I had actually forgotten about that (!)

Also, when I first moved to Toronto in the fall of 2007, drummer Joel Haynes and I were hanging out one night at the Rex checking out drummer Bob McLaren playing with tenor saxophonists Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald on their annual John Coltrane Tribute. Joel tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me to check out McLaren's bass drum. Sure enough, he too was playing (feathering) the bass drum on beats 1 & 3 while bassist Neil Swainson was playing in 4 EXCEPT they were playing some medium tempo Coltrane tune and NOT an up tempo flagwaver(!) And did it swing ? Of course it did !

So later when I studied with Bob I asked him about that. He told me that he got that idea from his days studying with Claude Ranger and it was his opinion that this two beat bass drum pattern with the hihat on 2 & 4 was really the "true" 4/4 by virtue that it split that basic pulse between two limbs and both sides of the body evenly.

Makes sense to me and I think there's a lot to be said for that idea of balance. But how do you make what's traditionally a "two beat" pattern feel like a 4/4 pattern? It's tricky and can be done. I think it's really about dynamics and playing the bass drum quiet enough that it doesn't over accentuate a half-time feel, balancing the volume of the bass drum with the hihat and really emphasizing the pulse of the ride cymbal. However, if you toy around with this for long enough you'll notice that the rhythm of this beat still has a different horizontal feeling to it than if you were to play four beats to the bar on the bass drum.

What I did was to go back and practice my Ted Reed Syncopation variations over this bass drum/hihat pattern and strive to make it feel like 4/4 rather than a two feel. It is a bit tricky but a unique feel once you get it.

Is anybody aware of any other drummers that do this?

So there you go. Now go forth and work your rhythmic magic and make 2 feel like 4 : )

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Couple of Lessons with Peter Erskine

Thanks to the helpful folks over at Evans Drum Heads, here's some useful tips from Peter Erskine:

And here's a bonus clip of Erskine demonstrating his nifty Zoom Q3HD camera:

I'll have to get my hands on one of those... : )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elvin Returns

And...we're back.
And what better way to get things going than with some footage of Elvin Jones in his element:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Intermission Riff

Okay, I've been on the go for awhile here and need a break. I'll be back in a few days once I recover.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PASIC 2010 - Day 4

Hello everyone! Today was another marathon showcase of fine musicians here in Indianapolis.
I'm a bit exhausted but have managed to fit in pretty much everything I wanted to see at this year's exceptional conference (with apologies to James Strain and his Red Norvo project. I'm sorry I missed that one...next time!)

Here's another dispatch from the front with a summary all the great stuff that I checked out today:

-I started the morning off with a session featuring Swiss Basel snare drumming expert Lee Caron & the AmeriClique Swiss Basel snare drumming ensemble. I've always been curious about the early roots of rudimental snare drumming and the origin of the "Swiss" rudiments. Apparently the Swiss mercenary army had a great deal to do with this as they spread their techniques and styles across Europe over the course of several centuries and conflicts. Very impressive playing and explanations throughout.

-Drum set artist and educator David Stanoch shared his thoughts and exercises regarding developing a good sense of time and his approaches to developing a good feel. His explanations, too, were very concise and well articulated and gave me plenty of ideas of things to practice with the metronome in the days to come. His Max Roach "transparency" exercise was also a good one and a reminder that I need to work on that again (Chris McCann showed that me years ago in Montreal). He also played great and that wasn't a small feat considering he had none other than the legendary Bernard "Pretty" Purdie sitting in the front row!

-Jamal Mohamed presented an excellent session on performance techniques for the Doumbek. He demonstrated some very common and practical patterns and played his butt off in a duet with a wind player who played a variety of interesting Middle Eastern reed instruments (and a digeridoo as well). We are very fortunate to have such a diverse collection of artists to share their passion and deep knowledge at these conferences.

-Vibraphonist Stefon Harris began his masterclass with a brilliant free improvised solo and then proceed to give a great session on a harmonic improvisation concept that doesn't require the strict use of scales to develop melodic ideas over chord changes. His approach instead involved the use of resolving to upper structure triads over a given chord change and he explored the "feelings" of certain chord tones, dissonances within a chord and their resolutions. I'm going to check this out more in the weeks to come. Harris, I think, is truly one of the modern day masters of contemporary Jazz music.

-The U.S. Army "Old Guard" Fife & Drum Corps gave an exceptional performance and history of the unit dating back to the American Revolutionary War (including being dressed in period uniforms). And these guys could really play! Their technique and ensemble playing was incredible (not too mention powerful) and even more impressive when considering the size of the sticks they used and the stick heights they needed to execute their patterns on such big drums, tuned lower and using calf skin heads. Real "old school" rudimental snare drumming and it sounded great. Something I'd like to hear more of these days.

-Afro-Cuban coordination whiz Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez played the last session of the day to a full house and played great while demonstrating his affinity for Afro-Cuban music over various clave rhythms played with his feet. His independence skills are really second to none and I appreciated his authentic phrasing and Cuban feel. It was also a very informative clinic with Hernandez demonstrating the duality of the 3-2 rumba clave and how it coexists in both 4/4 and 12/8. Furthermore, he demonstrated a few helpful exercises that help realize that duality. More to practice indeed...

-I visited the Dream Cymbal company's booth today in the expo hall. Their selection included many very nice hand hammered cymbals on display and they are not expensive at all. These cymbals are definitely worth considering if you are looking for some nice hand hammered cymbals but spending on a budget. Jazz drummers in particular should take note.

-The conference concluded with a performance from vibraphonist Stefon Harris and his band Blackout. Great overall vibe and ensemble playing and they really stretched on their program of original compositions (although I think they played a bit of Gershwin's "Gone" from Porgy & Bess at some point or was I just imagining things?) Drummer Justin Brown kept things together from behind the drums (I really dug the second deeper, looser snare drum he had in the regular floor tom position with his floor tom off to the right - a bit of Chris Dave influence perhaps?). Stefon Harris is an absolute monster on the vibraphone and a creative force. I really dug it (although I clearly sat in the wrong section. I was right in front of a speaker....and now I'm paying for it!) A great way to end the conference!

Alright that's it for PASIC 2010. I'm done!

Friday, November 12, 2010

PASIC 2010 - Day 3

Another exciting day at PASIC 2010 featuring many of the world's finest percussionists.

Here's a rundown of the great sessions I checked out:

-The morning started with a high energy master class on Brazilian drumming from Marcus Santos. Topics included techniques to develop "Ginga" (or the proper feel/soul/spirit of Brazilian rhythm), his individual approach to playing all the instruments of a Brazilian Samba school by himself at the same time (!) and the hour concluded with a mass, high energy arrangement featuring special guests Bill Bachman, Memo Acevedo, Vera Figueiredo and Aldo Mazza (among others).

-Cuban latin Jazz drummer and Dizzy Gillespie alumnus Ignacio Berroa demonstrated his unique approach to fusing straight ahead Jazz rhythms with traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms. He does this very well and I'm always impressed with Berroa's great sense of swing. I really dig how he mixes the influences of Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams with a really distinctive Afro-Cuban sensibility. And as he said so eloquently when explaining his tremendous left foot clave versatility: "All you really have to do is practice!" And he's right !

-Timbalero Ralph Irizarry and conguero Kachiro Thompson did a great job demonstrating many common and basic Afro-Latin grooves and simple bell variations in their morning session. Irizarry is also featured on the LP DVD "Drums Solos Revisted". Highly recommended. Check that one out as well !

-Brazilian drum set artist Vera Figueiredo focused her session on demonstrating how to apply Stick Control variations in the context of contemporary drum set Samba grooves. She's like the Brazilian Cindy Blackman! I was really impressed with her authentic feel and great bass drum chops (boom ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom....y'a dig?)

-New Orleans native Stanton Moore gave an excellent master class on his approach to studying drummers such as Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks and Zigaboo Modeliste and how he's taken from them and fused that into his own personal style. Stanton plays with a great beat and a huge, fat sound with that real slippery, greasy and in-between-the-cracks New Orleans feel. Later in the evening his trio played the feature concert to a full house and had everybody tapping their feet to his infectious grooves and slick arrangements. I really dig the bigger "auxiliary" bass drum that he's got connected off to the side that he lays into when the grooves go into 5th gear. The rest of the band was great too. In particular I really dug the organ player (who sometime slid in a few Larry Young references from time to time....nice!)

-Studio drumming legend John "JR" Robinson demonstrated many of his classic beats and his signature back beat during his late afternoon session. Robinson is one of the most recorded drummers EVER and I really appreciated his no nonsense approach to playing time and making a song sound good. His groove was rock solid and he never resorted to over the top drum tricks or any circus drumming to get his point across. A real drummer's drummer.

-Interestingly enough, I ran into both Bernard Purdie (groove legend) AND the infamous Buck Nelson (the first drummer to mic the drum stool, inventor of the patented "Gorilla Grip" and author of the acclaimed youtube drum instructional "Lifting The Cloak of Mystery off Rock Drumming")on the convention floor this afternoon. What are the chances happening...

-You'd be surprised what world famous drummers take double espresso shots, two creams and two sugars in their morning java. There's a Starbucks in the lobby of my hotel, always a long lineup too and no lack of celebrities waiting in line.

-I spent some time at the Remo booth in the expo hall this afternoon admiring the drum set on display and set of Bosphorus cymbals that Jeff Hamilton used for his performance yesterday. In particular I really took note of the way he had his drums tuned. They sure sounded/felt great and that was a real lesson in itself. And Jeff wasn't even there !

-The best session so far of the conference (In my opinion anyways!) was given this afternoon by drummer Matt Wilson (aka "The Allower"). Disguised as a sonic superhero (complete with a cape and hat!) Matt played a brilliantly melodic and musical solo on a very nice set Craviotto drums and Zildjian cymbals (although he can truly play anything and make them sound like gold!) Matt talked very eloquently about the role of a drummer in a musical situation and his overall philosophies on "allowing" musical situations to happen, how to bring out the best in other people and how to develop an overall flow to the music. One brave soul volunteered to get up on stage and act as Matt's guinea pig and go through several of Matt's ride cymbal "meditation" exercises (he did great, I thought) Matt is a great drummer and an incredible human being but he's also an amazing teacher as well (I should know!) and he has a real gift for conceptualizing and putting into words the seemingly "magical" elements of music and drumming that are required of us as Jazz improvisers and often so elusive and hard to teach/learn. A very inspiring session on many levels for sure and one that brought back great memories of my lessons with him six years ago in New York. I'm only sad that I didn't make it in time for the free popcorn....but I did catch Matt's "drum tech" take care of business before the show. Between having a drum tech and a new Christmas CD release (this is a GREAT CD btw - go out and buy it for xmas!)....Matt you've truly arrived and hit the big time now haven't you!!! : )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PASIC 2010 - Day 2

Well today was an action packed day and a great start to the proper conference schedule. I also ran into a lot of old friends between running back and forth between sessions.

A few of my highlights:

-The morning started off with my attending the PASIC Drum Set Competition Finals with judges Matt Wilson, Jeff Hamilton and Stanton Moore presiding. I only caught the first three contestants in the Jazz category but they all sounded GREAT (and they were all very young!) I heard lots of great music coming from those guys this morning. A great way to start the day and I'm sure we'll be hearing more of those young cats in the years to come.

- Jeff Queen gave a great snare drum and technique masterclass entitled 4x4x4=Drumming For Life. I particularly appreciated his breakdown of his method to teaching buzz and double stroke rolls. Queen ended his session with his famous solo "Tribute" that showcased his incredible facility and snare technique.

- Conguero Samuel Torres demonstrated his melodic approach to contemporary conga playing that featured no less that seven tuned congas (!) Memo Acevedo provided some tasteful backing playing clave rhythms while Torres tore it up on the congas. He concluded his session to a backing track featuring an Afro-Cuban groove in 5/4 that featured an interesting odd meter clave I'm going to have to check out some more (sounds like Conor Guilfoyle territory!)

-I revisited my drum line days from my youth and checked out the Cadets drum line and front ensemble. They demonstrated several of their warmups/exercises/etudes as well as excerpts from the drum book to their show "Toy Soldier". I was impressed with Colin McNutt's philosophy on integrating musicial concepts into their stock exercises and warm ups. The snare drum line ripped off some VERY impressive paradiddle patterns.

-Vibraphonist & marimbist Dave Samuels performed a concert with his trio Triastic featuring percussionist Arturo Stable on a very interesting hybrid hand percussion/drum set and bassist Edward Perez. The group performed very spacious and involved improvisations on tunes such as Wayne Shorter's "Footprints", Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Flower" and the standard "You and The Night and The Music". These musicians had a great connection and I appreciated the listening and overall interaction going on between them.

-Drummer and brush master extraordinaire Jeff Hamilton lead his trio featuring Christoph Lundy on bass and Tamir Hendelman on piano. The band swung hard from the very first note (a tasteful shuffle) and I was blown away by Hamilton's opening roll/fill that launched the trio so exceptionally. Perhaps the greatest drum intro I've ever heard in person (no count off either....just "BANG!" and we're off to the races....here we go!) Hamilton stressed the importance of really playing for the music and respecting the arrangement. He also made some insightful comments about approaches to feathering the bass drum (which I'll discuss further and more in depth in a later post). The session concluded with Jeff pulling out all the stops on a melodic drum solo version of Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington's classic tune "Caravan" with the melody clear throughout. Swingin' !

-I wandered around the industry expo but could only take it so long as it was really LOUD and a bit chaotic in there. I did, however, find some good deals and made my requisite stop at the Zildjian booth to check out their latest cymbals. I had a chance to play some new prototypes including three china/swishes that have been designed to replicate the sound/feel of Mel Lewis' old Swish A Knocker. They sounded great and totally captured that classic sound.

Also on display were several cymbals that Adam Nussbaum has been designing in collaboration with Zildjian. Those were very different to my ear (very dry, I thought...) but great nonetheless. One ride, in particular, had a very unique combination of lathing techniques on the top and bottom.

They had one Kenny Washington "Bounce" ride on display too (or maybe there were others hiding...) but this one I really quite liked and spent a considerable amount of time playing around with it. I think they went to extra lengths to copy the bell of Washington's old K as the bell seemed much shallower/flatter (?) than other K Constantinoples I've seen and played in the past. Anyways, their attention to details has sure payed off. There were several of those cymbals on display last year as well, but this one really stood out for some reason. I'm sure it won't last long on the display floor!

I sure appreciate the direction that Zildjian and Paul Francis are going with the company in regards to collaborations with Jazz artists such as Adam Nussbaum and Kenny Washington. I'm looking forward to hearing what else they have in store for us in the future....although, I don't really need any more cymbals at his point (or....do I ? Steve Weiss DID have some good deals on cymbal bags. Hmmm....)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

PASIC 2010 - Day 1

Well, I've been looking forward to this day since the last PASIC conference (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) ended a year ago! This looks to be a great week of drums, drummers and drumming from all over the world and in every shape and form. In fact, I thought last year's conference was impressive but this year's schedule looks even better !!!

Today was the official pre-conference session. Last year this featured a special Focus Day consisting of themed performances but rather this years Focus Day(s) concerts are spread over the entire conference schedule.

Instead, the small group pre-conference session I attended today was a special PAS Collegiate Pedagogy Mentoring Day that ran the entire day (it was a marathon actually!) The seminar was intended to answer questions and provide guidance to aspiring college and university teachers (such as myself) and current college percussion teachers who are just starting out.

The sessions included guest speakers such as Tim Lautzenheiser, Dean Gronemeier, Anothony DiSanza, Julia Gaines, Steven Hemphill, Rich Holly, Gary Cooke and Jeff Moore. Topics of the session included developing effective communication skills, identifying one's personal teaching philosophies, the tenure process and student recruitment.

The speakers were all highly skilled and experienced teachers and percussionists and all had really good things to say. I really learned a lot and came away from the whole experience with lots of helpful information, inspired and motivated to improve my own ability as a teacher and develop my own skills in all those areas.

Lots of work to be done.....and I'm sure I'm going to be repeating that phrase several times this week as I check out many of the world's finest musicians !

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On The Road (part deux)

Spent the whole day today flying or waiting in airport departure lounges. I'm tired of expensive and lousy airport food.
Fortunately these guys kept me company and helped me pass the time:

Hey, I've eclipsed twenty thousand hits as of today.
Thanks for visiting !

Monday, November 8, 2010

On The Road With The Monday "Morning" (?) Paradiddle

-A little bit late today but I'm typing this post (or most of it anyways!) from the departure lounge of the Regina International Airport and munching on a Tim Horton's bagel with cream cheese while waiting for my flight.

-Thank you to all the educators and nice people who attended my drum set workshops and sessions at the Saskatchewan Music Conference held this past weekend in Saskatoon. I sure appreciated your support and intelligent questions and concerns. Thank you to St. John's Music and Yamaha Canada who sponsored my sessions.

-I also played a wonderful afternoon big band gig with the Bob Moyer Big Band on Sunday in Regina at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. It's always a pleasure to play with that band and also a fun opportunity for me to let my swing chops loose and pretend to follow in the footsteps of the master's such as Jo Jones, Jake Hanna, Mel Lewis and Sonny Payne (I can pretend can't I ???)

-Another good blog post in defence of the rudiments over at Ted Warren's blog worth checking out.

A couple of great vibraphonists to check out today:

-Here's Milt Jackson with Ray Brown, Cedar Walton and the supreme swinger Mickey Roker playing Tadd Dameron's composition "Our Delight":

-And here's a more recent clip of Bobby Hutcherson & Cedar Walton on John Coltrane's "The Wise One":

-Okay folks, I'm off to PASIC 2010 in Indianapolis tomorrow and will blog about my experience in the days to come...lots to come indeed.

Forever onwards !

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Antonio Sanchez with Donny McCaslin

A dandy of a clip today featuring drummer Antonio Sanchez with saxophonist Donny McCaslin's group:

I heard this group with Donny McCaslin, Antonio Sanchez, Scott Colley on bass and Ben Monder on guitar at the Rex Jazz Bar in Toronto in 2007. It was a very memorable evening of music (I went both nights actually!) and it was one of the rare nights that I heard the Rex so quiet while so packed full of people (mostly students/musicians as far as I could tell - this is rare!). A great band and McCaslin is one of my favorite contemporary Jazz saxophonists (and yes, we share the same last name - although no relation!)

Sanchez' playing was incredibly musical and demonstrated an extreme dynamic sensitivity in addition to his ridiculous chops that he was so well known for during his tenure with the Pat Metheny group. In fact, I read in an interview with Jeff "Tain" Watts where he refers to Sanchez as "the modern day latin Tony Williams". Indeed !

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Billy (Martin) Speaks

Another great interview from the kind people at Zildjian, today featuring drummer Billy Martin:

I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of his latest DVD "Life on Drums". I'll give a full review once it reaches my mailbox.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Billy Drummond Drums

It's always a pleasure to hear Billy Drummond play the drums:

Billy is a great drummer that I've enjoyed for some time. His albums Native Colours, The Gift and Dubai all released on the Criss Cross Jazz record label are all favorites of mine and great examples of contemporary post-bop Jazz drumming at it's best. Billy's got a great cymbal beat (and a great collection of old K's too!) and a great "take no prisoners" concept and sound on the drums that I really identify with. His take on influences such as Tony Williams and Elvin Jones is quite unique. I think he's been touring a lot lately with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, but some of my favorite memories of Billy's playing were from his performances in various piano trios with Renee Rosnes and such bass players as Ed Howard, John Patitucci and Scott Colley that I heard in Montreal, New York and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan during the late 90s. Billy's playing on Chris Potter's album "Vertigo" is one of my favorites as well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Duke's Lullaby

I thought this footage was pretty cool....and unexpected really! Here's Steve Gadd performing his composition "Duke's Lullaby" with the percussion super group Nexus and Ghanaian Master Drummer Abraham Adzenyah:

And another couple of clips here from the same concert featuring Gadd and Adzenyah with Nexus:

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Monday AM Paradiddle

-This was a busy weekend with a variety of gigs on the go ranging from a playing an evening of duet's with a piano player, sitting in with a rocking fusion group to kicking a full-sized big band. I feel very fortunate to find myself in so many diverse musical situations these days.

-Speaking of big bands, I'll be performing next Sunday, November 7th in Regina with the Bob Moyer Big Band at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's annual big band/meat pie extravaganza. Admission includes a take home shepards pie. Can't go wrong with a deal like that : ) I first cut my teeth with this band during the mid 90s and while Bob hasn't been with us since 2005, his legacy and band lives on. I feel fortunate to have worked with Bob when I did and I learned a lot of on the job training from him about playing in a big band, playing for dancers, backing up vocalists and how to play a proper Saskatchewan polka (among many other important things I didn't learn in school!)

-My wife and I caught the Spanish Harlem Orchestra last Wednesday evening at the Jack Singer concert hall at the EPCOR Centre in Calgary. Make sure to see this amazing and tight-knit contemporary salsa orchestra whenever you can. The playing was great, high energy and explosive. Although I'm sure that everyone in the group (and the traditional Cuban son group Septeto Nacional who opened for them) were throughly scratching their heads and wondering why everyone was sitting down and not dancing(!) It's hard to stand still when listening to those guys...

The music was also a nice reminder of my experience traveling to Cuba in 2006 and hearing so much great music on literally an hourly basis. Many of Oscar Hernandez' arrangements for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra caught my attention as I had played some of them during my tenure with the Montreal Jazz Big Band a few years ago. That project in itself was an incredible experience whereas I actually got paid (!) to learn about authentic Afro-Cuban drumming from Mario LaBrosse and his crew of talented percussionists while playing with the MJBB.

-Percussionist Michael Spiro and Jesus Diaz have a great website dealing with conga techniques at www.congamasterclass.com Lot's to learn here !

-Check out Jesse Cahill's recent entry In Defense of Rudimental Drumming over at his blog. Hard to argue with that...

-I'll be presenting a series of workshops later this week at this year's Saskatchewan Music Conference held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I'm looking forward to working with many of Saskatchewan's music educators and hope to impart us much information as I can regarding Jazz drumming and drum set pedagogy. For more information regarding this conference check out their website here: www.saskmusic.org

-A few people forwarded this short film to me. Entitled "The Drummer", this film stars real-life NYC drummer Dave Ratajczak:

The Drummer from Bill Block on Vimeo.

-And finally, courtesy of Toronto drummer and all around nice guy Bob McLaren, here's some tracks of Kenny Clarke from a radio broadcast with the Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet in Paris circa. 1949:

As always, Klook's the man!!

btw - just over one week to go until PASIC 2010 in Indianapolis...