Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dafnis Prieto Masterclass

Cuban-born drummer Dafnis Prieto is a force. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study with him for two weeks during the winter of 2010 while participating in a workshop at the Banff Centre and work with him on a daily basis. Prieto's intimate understanding of Afro-Cuban rhythms and his application of them to modern musical contexts is unbelievable. And of course his technique and coordination combined with a forward thinking view of music makes him, as far as I'm concerned, one of the great innovators of our time.

Here he is demonstrating some of his techniques from a masterclass:

And here's a more extensive interview with Dafnis where he talks about his art and craft:

I've posted these ones before, but here are a few good examples of Dafnis Prieto in action courtesy of the LP Percussion company:

And this little clave bit is from Prieto's session at PASIC 2008.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

As per usual, here's a collection of interesting things for you to check out today:

- The Banff Centre has a long-standing tradition of exceptional Jazz programs, going back to the early 70s. A lot of incredible music has been created in the mountains over the years and I've been very fortunate to have participated in numerous workshops there over the years.

Dave Douglas, the long-time director of the Banff Jazz & Creative Music Workshop (who incidentally will be stepping down after this coming year), offers some inspiring thoughts on the importance of attending and participating in workshops such as this over at his blog Greenleaf Music.

You can learn more about the Banff Centre at:


- My good friend Matt Wilson is poised to release another album with his band Arts & Crafts entitled "An Attitude for Gratitude":

Here's a couple of great interviews with Wilson courtesy of Jason Crane over at the The Jazz Session:


- What am I listening to these days?

Aaron Goldberg Trio "Yes!" - Ali Jackson Jr. (drums)

Susie Ibarra "Drum Sketches" - Susie Ibarra (drums & percussion)

Jim McNeely "Group Therapy" - John Hollenbeck (drums)

Keith Jarrett "Ruta & Daitya" - Jack DeJohnette (drums & percussion)

Brian Blade & Fellowship "Perceptual" - Brian Blade (drums)

Morgan Childs Quintet "Time" - Morgan Childs (drums)

- Thanks to Peter Hum over at jazzblog.ca who turned me on to Aaron Goldberg's album "Yes!" It features some really outstanding playing from Ali Jackson Jr. on drums. Here's a clip of that trio from a hit at Dizzy's in New York City last fall:

- Speaking of piano trios, here's a couple of fine concerts featuring some great trio playing:

Jeff Hamilton/John Clayton/Monty Alexander

Benny Green/Ben Wolfe/Carl Allen

I'm looking forward to this exciting hit on Tuesday.

The Jeff McGregor Trio + 1


Jeff McGregor - Alto Saxophone
Simon Fisk - Bass
Jon McCaslin - Drums

with special guest: Jim Brenan - Tenor Saxophone

Tuesday, January 31

Kawa Espresso Bar
1333 8th St SW
Calgary, AB


No Cover

- Congratulations and all the best to the CBC's Katie Malloch, the host of the program "Tonic", who recently announced her retirement from the airwaves. Peter Hum over at jazzblog.ca wrote a very nice piece over here and Paul Wells offers his thoughts on his blog at macleans.ca here.

I can't stress enough about how indebted I am to Katie and to CBC Radio in general. Much of my early exposure to Jazz music and, most importantly, Canadian Jazz music came from tuning into Katie's program "Jazz Beat", Ross Porter's "After Hours" and Margaret Poitou's show "Easy Street" (that one goes back 20 years!) Let's hope that the CBC continues its support of Canadian Jazz and Jazz music in the wider scope. I never had the opportunity to record a session in Montreal for "Jazz Beat" but Katie very kindly played tracks from my first album "McCallum's Island" on her show quite frequently after it was first released.

I have no idea what her plans are post-CBC, but let's hope that Katie perhaps might consider other avenues to express her passion for Jazz music in Canada (how about joining the ranks of Canada's Jazz bloggers?)

I'm very proud to have had Katie as a spokesperson and advocate for Jazz music in Canada. Thank you Katie for a job well done all these years. Your passion and enthusiasm for the music always shine. Jazz in Canada is certainly at a better place because of you!

- Finally, courtesy of Adam Nussbaum, here is Alex Riel's dog playing the drums!

(dig the nice set of Gretsch drums...that pooch obviously has nice taste in drums)

Hey Ted, get your guys on this!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brian Blade & The Fellowship

Here's a nice one to finish the week off, a couple of fine sets featuring Brian Blade and his Fellowship band from a recent show at Yoshi's in San Fransisco:

The chemistry that this band plays with is really something else. If I'm not mistaken, Blade has basically kept the personnel of this band together since the late 90s. That's impressive! One might imagine that a record company or a club owner or whom ever might be inclined to have Blade put together an all-star band of sorts. But I really respect the fact that Brian continues to develop his music with his crew despite the fact that they might not all be as high profile names as some of the other artists that Blade often accompanies as a sideman. I really respect that. The music always comes first with this guy and he and his band are musically in it for the long haul. These guys can all really play.

In the July 2008 issue of Modern Drummer, Ken Micallef asked Blade about this and his choice of musicians for his band. He replied: "It's hard for me to see it any other way. We're friends, we've known each other for so long. But when I write, these are the people that I hear. I hear their voices. I want my emotions and my heart to be wrapped up in that, otherwise I can't take stock. I want Fellowship to develop over as long period of time as possible."

I actually remember listening to his first album as a leader at a listening booth at the HMV on the corner of Peel and St. Catherines in Montreal shortly after it was first released in the late 90s. Brian had begun to gain some recognition for his work with Joshua Redman's band and with Kenny Garrett (as well as with Joni Mitchell and work with Daniel Lanois). He was definitely known for his intense energy and style of aggressive drumming (incidentally, I distinctly remember hearing a killer bootleg tape from the Montreal Jazz Festival featuring Brian with Kenny Garrett and Pat Metheny, playing on a program of John Coltrane's music, that bassist Sage Reynolds had given me. That shoddy tape recording really changed my perspective on things!) Anyways, for a "drummer's" record Blade's approach with the Fellowship really shattered any preconceptions I may have had at the time as to what a drummer-led band was all about. It's not really all about featuring the drums in every tune, building compositions around drum solos or crazy, mathematical odd meter vamps...instead this band is about a dedicated group dynamic and strong, through-composed textural and mood-based compositions that take a group effort in order to fully develop properly. What really knocks me out is their attention to space, pacing and dynamics that only the most mature of musicians with an open set of ears can tackle with such grace, flow and musicality.

Lately I've been revisiting the self-titled Fellowship album (1999) and the the follow-up "Perceptual" (2000) recently. The more recent Fellowship recording "Season of Changes" (2008) is on my to-do list as are his collaborations with guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel ("Friendly Travellers") and several trio recordings he recorded with pianist Edward Simon and bassist John Patitucci.

With regards to Brian Blade's unique style of drumming: I'm paraphrasing here but I read somewhere awhile ago in regards to a lesson that Ed Soph gave to a rather high-profile and accomplished drummer who was fascinated with Brian Blade's drumming but could not figure out how to capture that same spirit, energy and dynamic in his own playing. Ed replied (and I'm paraphrasing here of course!) something to the degree of:

"Well you have to understand that when Brian comes to play he is like a big empty vessel just waiting to be filled up by the music that surrounds him. You, on the other hand, when you come to play your "vessel" is already filled up and ready to be emptied!"

This all makes perfect sense and sums it up nicely as I sit here writing this and listen to the album "New Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall" that features Brian Blade with Roy Hargrove, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and John Patitucci. His sense of dynamic flow is impeccable.

The guy is all ears, all the time!

I just have to wonder out loud here: what does Brian Blade practice on the drums when he's at home these days? Rudiments? Wilcoxon? Syncopation exercises? Ride Cymbal technique? Playing along with recordings? Levon Helm backbeat grooves? Of course I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek-here, but I am genuinely curious. For what it's worth...I know from a personal experience (crashing on his piano players couch once!) that Brian spends a lot of time playing the guitar...but that story is for another blog post, another time.

If you go back and listen to his earlier recordings from the early to mid 90s I hear a strong influence of Elvin and Tony in his playing but with a distinctive New Orleans looseness (incidentally Brian was a student of Johnny Vidacovich at one point). However, as he's developed over the years he really plays with such an open phrasing that it's almost like you can't define what he does in terms of licks or patterns...there is a certain "organic" quality about his drumming and phrasing that somehow defies strict definition from a "drumistic" standpoint (take a good look at his now infamous solo from Joshua Redman's "Jazz Crimes" to see what I mean...)

Wayne Shorter offers some interesting perspective on this from that same Modern Drummer article I mentioned above: "Brian places importance on the kind of storytelling that takes you away from the technique of the drums. Brian is like Sonship Theus and Eric Gravatt, these kinds of drummers who aren't stuck in method books...Brian is like a painter. He is youthful. Every day is the first moment. He doesn't sound like he's working on something today that he was doing two months ago."

Hard to argue with that! Lessons to be learned, indeed...

Here's another favorite of mine that features Brian Blade with Kenny Barron and Kiyoshi Kitagawa:

btw-Andrew Hare recently commented on Brian Blade's drumming as well over at his blog The Melodic Drummer. Check it out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peter Erskine on DW Drums

Peter Erskine always has nice taste in drums and cymbals. Here he is today playing and demonstrating his beautiful DW Jazz series drums:

"You can take 'em uptown or you can take 'em downtown!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chris Potter Plays Tune Up

Not a drum post today but this one is for all my saxophone playing friends out there...well, and everybody, really!

There was also a bootleg of Potter performing a solo version of "All The Things You Are" similar to this making the rounds awhile ago. I'm impressed with Potter's ability to make complete music by himself and you never stop "hearing the tune" while he improvises a solo like this, even when he's really stretching with the time and harmony. While on the drums we aren't playing an instrument that is organized the same way melodically or harmonically, I think there is still a real lesson to be learned here. We should all be able to improvise and "play the tune" and execute our ideas with a certain clarity, organization and overall musicality that allows the listener to understand and hear the larger melodic/harmonic structures at play.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Up Close with Jack DeJohnette

Dig this: from the recent 2012 NEA Jazz Master's awards concert, here's some nice up close, behind the scenes footage of the Master Jack DeJohnette performing Ornette Coleman's composition "When Will The Blues Leave?" with the likes of Sheila Jordan, Ron Carter and my old buddy Jimmy Owens (from my days in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program in Washington, D.C.):

Watching this clip is a great opportunity to check out Jack's approach to timekeeping. In particular, take special note of Jack's right hand. This is a GREAT lesson in ride cymbal playing! He is quite relaxed and if you'll notice he hardly moves his arm/hand at all but yet the beat is strong, clear and has definite intensity to it.

Thanks for the lesson Jack!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Motian Sickness - The Music of Paul Motian: For the Love of Sarah

I was very excited to get a copy of Jeff Cosgrove's latest CD "Motian Sickness - This Music of Paul Motian: For the Love of Sarah" awhile ago and it's a great album. Jeff has recorded a collection of Paul Motian's music in a very uncommon strings + drums instrument combination. But it really works for me and Jeff has put together a very creative and musical take on Motian's unique compositions. I've enjoyed listening to these tracks very much lately.

I was intrigued with this project and Jeff was nice enough to answer a few questions about his recording journey and relationship with the late Paul Motian.

What was the inspiration for this project?

"It honestly came from wanting to do something different.  When I first heard Paul's record Conception Vessel, the music changed what I though a compositional/percussionist approach to jazz could be.  At the time of hearing that record, I was playing a lot of standards with various musicians in trio settings and at jam sessions.  I found myself restless in the music.  I want to strive to have my playing with equal parts jazz drummer and percussionist and didn't feel like I could get that with the situations I was in.  Motian's music really the most exciting vehicle for me to experiment with - he was approaching his music and standards from a very melodic/compositional point of view that really opened my eyes.  I would practice to his records and one day I just knew I wanted to make a record of Paul's compositions." 

What in particular attracted you so much to Motian's music?

"The emotional connection to the music and the effect of the musical space are the cornerstone of what attracts me to Motian's music.  I love to hear the sound decay in the melodies, it is hauntingly beautiful in some of the compositions, like Conception Vessel or Arabesque but can also be frantic and misshapen like in Mumbo Jumbo or The Storyteller.  The music has an elastic quality to it that creates a lot of illusions toward total freedom.  The reality is that the compositions and improvisations are always rooted in Paul's melody.  They are emotional, flexible pieces that come from Paul which produce beautiful music." 

On speaking and communicating with Paul Motian:

"Well about getting to talk to Paul, it is kind of a funny story.  I didn't know Paul but had spoken to him on the phone a few times and met him a few times through out the beginning of the Motian Sickness project.  It all started when I was talking with pianist Frank Kimbrough after he had recorded his Play record with Motian in early 2006.  I wanted to find out all about playing with Paul, as I'm a huge fan of Frank and Paul.  I mentioned the idea I had to record Paul's music and he thought it was a great idea.  He gave me Motian's number and took me about a year to work up the courage to call.  Frank set my expectations low that Paul would call back, but Paul called back the next day.  We talked on the phone initially for about 30 minutes about the idea for the music.  He was genuinely interested to hear his music expressed through the mandolin/fiddle/bass/drums.  Paul was hilarious on the phone, he really made it easy to talk to one of my hero's - one of my top five favorites actually.  He was very humble about his compositions.  When I told him the band name, he laughed so hard that he dropped the phone." 

"Throughout the three and a half years of working on the project, Paul sent me about 30 scores in two batches.  The first batch were twelve of his favorites, which included Conception Vessel, Mumbo Jumbo, For the Love of Sarah, The Storyteller, and Arabesque.  The second batch were tunes that I requested.  It is amazing to have the lead sheets in his hand writing and notations.  He would tell me, "the phrase is the most important thing...I don't care how the cats play the time, but the phrase is everything."  Those were definitely inspiring words." 

"I would see him at the Vangaurd and I talked to him on the phone a few more times before he passed away which was amazing.  Each time I would see him at the Vanguard, I would introduce myself and he would always say..."it's great to see you but man, this is a long way from West Virginia!" 

The instrumentation you chose is definitely not a common one.  How did you come up with the unique idea to record an album of all string instruments and drums? 

"I live in an area (Eastern West Virginia) where there is a lot of bluegrass music.  The warmth of that sound is really attractive to me.  I had always wanted to play freer jazz with that warm sound.  Over the last ten years, I have ended up collecting all of Paul's record as a leader.  Throughout studying his music and playing, I just had a feeling that the warmth of sound that a mandolin, fiddle, and bass would bring out the illusive elements of Motian's music.  It has such a folkloric quality to it and is so flexible to interpretation, much like bluegrass."

"I started to set up a couple rehearsals of the music with very traditional bluegrass musicians, I could tell right away that the music was perfect for the interpretation.  The guys I was working with in the rehearsals were not use to the flexibility and give that the melodies had regarding time.  It was definitely strangely beautiful though.  I had to find the right players that understood the subtle nature of freer music and the warmth of bluegrass." 

"First I approached mandolin player Jamie Masefield, which was introduced by a friend who manages the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington Vermont.  Jamie was playing at the festival in June of 2010 and my family and I were there for vacation and we met after his set. I knew Jamie was very comfortable in bluegrass and is an amazing jazz player - his Jazz Mandolin Project is a very, very cool band.  He was definitely hesitant about it as he was largely unfamiliar with Motian as a composer.  After sending him the tunes, he was definitely interested but still not sure he could fit in.  When we talked about where I was coming from with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sound, he was hooked." 

"With bass, John Hebert was really the guy that I wanted.  I had never met him but I really dug his playing with Fred Hersch, Andrew Hill and so many others.  His sound is so big and inviting.  John had just played on my friend Noah Preminger's record so I called Noah and got in touch with John.  From the outset, John was into it, super helpful and very encouraging.  He helped me get the studio time together and when the original fiddle player was unable to make the recording, John suggested Mat." 

"I knew of Mat and his playing with Motian.  The first time I went to see Motian, Mat was in the band.  He just has such a natural sound and really can do so much with it.  Mat understands improvised music but very understanding of the sound of classical and bluegrass.  Mat was very cool and interested when we talked for the first time.  He wanted to do the record and it just seemed so effortless.  Plus, he is just such a laid back guy which is so important for me.  He was also encouraging when I talked about this being my first record."

"The guys were amazing from a musical and personal standpoint.  The three and a half year time getting to the studio was worth it to have these guys on it.  I couldn't have asked for more from these fine musicians and am so grateful to have been able to work with them." 

On the recording process:

"In true Motian fashion, there was not going to be an rehearsal based on everyone's schedule.  We recorded in New York in the first week of February in between two major snow and ice storms.  John was coming in from Germany from a tour, I was coming up from West Virginia, Jamie was coming from Vermont, it had the potential to be disaster.  When we walked into the studio, it was the first time we had all seen each other.  The first notes we recorded were Arabesque, the one and only take of that tune.  I knew we had a record that we could all be proud of.  The communication was great.  Everyone had ideas for the tunes, we arranged everything in between takes.  It just really seemed meant to be.  We talked, joked and played some great music together.  I was so fortunate to be able to make this music with musicians of such a high level."   

"This project has been a dream come true.  It had frustrating moments with all the fits and starts with trying to get it all together but it certainly paid off.  I was really, really fortunate to have all the support from my wife who would not let me give up.  She knew it was important for me and I can't thank her enough for it...the record is named for her.  This record was a testament to believing in something and it will come true. Additionally, Paul did get to hear the record before he passed away which I was able to get a lot of closure on this project."

As you can see here, Downbeat magazine also offered a very positive review of this album:

If you are interested in listening to this fine album, you can pick it up here:

iTunes (with two bonus tunes)


CD Baby

Friday, January 20, 2012

John Riley in Clinic

This is just a short one, shot on somebody's iPhone (probably!), but I was fascinated by John's explanation of how he uses different inversions of double strokes between the snare and bass drum while playing time with the ride cymbal to develop further vocabulary for comping:

I like his ideas of dealing with permutations of the double strokes, varying the speed (eighth notes to triplets) and then also leaving notes out. It's a simple enough concept but combined with some imagination and creativity those patterns should give one enough ideas to develop over a lifetime!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ralph Peterson Jr. Plays

Another bad ass drum solo from Ralph Peterson Jr. today:

Ralph has also got an excellent new instructional DVD out and, after now owning and viewing it myself, I highly recommend it for anyone seriously interested in studying the art of Jazz drumming. There is a lot of serious information and great playing packed into this DVD!

Here's a great sample from this DVD of Peterson explaining and demonstrating his craft:

(I really dig those blue sparkle drums Ralph!)

You've probably noticed the advertisement/link on my blog for Jazzheaven.com at the side of this page. Run (don't walk!) and go to that website NOW to find an amazing collection of Jazz instructional videos. I'll be featuring an interview with the mastermind behind these excellent productions, Falk Willis, in the near future. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dennis' Bass

Another post today for my friends of the bass clef persuasion, here's a very moving piece and a tribute to bassist Dennis Irwin, a marvelous musician who left us way too early:

I had always admired Dennis' playing, having heard him on recordings with the likes of John Scofield, Joe Lovano, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and on a ton of dates on the Criss Cross label (how I found those particular albums is for another future post...) He always struck me as the ultimate sideman, someone that people loved to play with and who musicians obviously knew they could always depend on to play their music. If you saw his name on a gig or an album you always knew that he would get the job done with taste, musicality and professionalism. A great role model for any rhythm section player, I think.

I was fortunate to spend some time hanging out with Dennis and play with him in 2004 while I was spending time in New York City on a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I was studying with drummer Matt Wilson at the time and he introduced me to Dennis while I was following around Matt's band "Arts & Crafts" while they were touring the five boroughs, performing school concerts as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center outreach program.

Dennis was a very warm person and graciously invited me to his loft for a couple days to play together and talk about music. We also had a mutual friend in Montreal bassist Brian Hurley (whom I had played with extensively) so we got along pretty quickly. Dennis and I played a lot of quarter notes together (among other things!) and I learned a lot from his tales of playing with all the world's greatest Jazz drummers (Art Blakey, Bill Stewart, John Riley, Idris Muhammad, Kenny Washington, Mel Lewis, Lewis Nash - you name it!) Dennis and I was also shared a few laughs following his gigs on Monday evenings with the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and he graciously invited me to sit in with Pete Malaverni's trio at the Sweet Basil one night (and let me tell you, it was very hard to play following the swinging' drumming of Leroy Williams!) It was a great lesson and experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Here's a clip featuring Dennis Irwin with the Joe Lovano Nonet to enjoy courtesy of Bret Primack, "The Jazz Video Guy":

And finally a performance of Matt Wilsons "Arts & Crafts" band featuring Dennis on the Monk tune "We See":

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Art Taylor & Johnny Griffin

"Oh you better watch out, Mr. A.T. knows who's been naughty and nice..."

Here's another great one of Art Taylor teaming up with Johnny Griffin from a French television broadcast:

Art Taylor was an impeccable timekeeper, comper and overall great accompanist. Watching his left hand in that last clip is a lesson in itself. No wonder he was in such high demand as a sideman back in the day. His playing always struck me as a great combination of Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey although done in a very personal and creative way.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Good morning everybody and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Let's all take a moment to reflect on the meaning of King's important message that still resonates today.

Here's a few things of interest worth checking out today:

-Props to Rubim DeToledo and his crew that performed music from Mile Davis' "Bitches Brew" and "In A Silent Way" over the weekend at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club. Rubim, along with Jim Brenan, Bob Tildesley, Ralf Buschmeyer, Chris Andrew, Tyler Hornby and Raul Gomez Tabera really nailed it and they all sounded great.

-Following the recent death of saxophonist and composer Sam Rivers, NPR's A Blog Supreme published this very thoughtful article about some of the important lessons that Rivers has taught us:


-Drummer Rakalam Bob Moses gives us this personal and inspiring article on his relationship and mentorship with the great Edgar Bateman:


-I came across this footage of Terry Clarke performing with a chamber string-ensemble:

About 2/3 through the clip Clarke plays a very cool brush solo on his signature Ayotte drums (with a single 10" mounted tom)

-Billy Drummond is one of my favorite all-time contemporary drummers. Not the greatest footage, but here he is with pianist Renee Rosnes on Thelonious Monk's "Four in One":

I heard Rosnes and Drummond play together several times over the years as a trio with a variety of bass players and it was always killing!

-What am I listening to these days?

Dana Hall "Into the Light" - Dana Hall (drums)

Dave Holland Octet "Pathways" - Nate Smith (drums), Steve Nelson (vibraphone)

Shelly Manne & Friends "My Fair Lady" - Shelly Manne (drums)

Dave Liebman "We Three" - Adam Nussbaum (drums)

John Coltrane "Dear Old Stockholm" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Eric Harland "Voyager" - Eric Harland (drums)

-Have you seen this old footage of Greg Hutchinson warming up in the studio?


-Here's a couple of classic pieces to watch and reflect on...here is Elvin Jones performing with the John Coltrane Quartet on the pieces "Afro Blue" and the moving "Alabama" from Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual television series:

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - "On the Importance of Jazz"

"God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create, and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many
different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

(thank you to Kenan Foley who sent me this important message this morning)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blue Note - The Story of Modern Jazz

The Blue Note record label is undeniably one of the greatest Jazz record labels of all time. Here's a very informative documentary on the story of the people who made it happen:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tony Meets Art!

Today's post features a meeting of drummers of epic proportions!

This French concert, featured in its entirety, features the great Art Blakey and Tony Williams working together, backed up by Stanley Clarke on bass and a group of percussionists:

In particular check out their version of Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant" which I quite enjoyed. This is a great example of two great jazz drummers from different generations making interesting music together. I did the math and Art is about 53 years old in this footage while Tony is around 27...almost half the age of Blakey!

Blakey was obviously a big fan of drummers playing together and gave us several albums on the Blue Note label that featured bands with multiple drummers and percussionists. We don't see jazz drummers collaborate like this very often (although Joe Lovano's "US FIVE" project comes to mind as does Joshua Redman's double trio) but it's certainly an interesting sonic texture worth exploring.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NEA Jazz Master 2012 - Jack DeJohnette

Congratulations Jack!

And here's Jack and Roy Haynes engaging in a friendly "tap off" following the NEA Jazz Master's luncheon:


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jeff Coffin & Bob Moses Clinic

Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Coffin is one my favorite contemporary musicians these days. I really admire his sense of creativity and fearless attitude when it comes to improvisation and blurring the lines between styles in an interesting and musical way. With him, anything goes and he certainly has the technique, the knowledge and an open mind that allows him to do so. His playing with Bela Fleck a year ago in Calgary was a personal highlight for me so naturally I was excited to come across this clinic footage of Coffin playing along with the great Rakalam Bob Moses:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Steve Gadd with Stevie Wonder

Today the two Steve's show us how it's done (unfortunately the footage ends before Stephen Harper joins in to take the stage...)

Special thanks to Jayson Brinkworth who pointed this one out to me via the Facebook.

And here's a couple of other good ones of Steve Gadd, courtesy of Solon McDade, performing some drum & percussion duets using some classic grooves along with percussionist Ralph MacDonald:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Monk in Belgium

I've posted a portion of this concert featuring Thelonious Monk and his quartet from a date in Belgium before, but the entire concert has emerged and it's incredible so here it is:

Dig the fine drumming from Frankie Dunlop and the nice solo drum feature that Dunlop plays about half-way through the concert (I posted that one before...it's great!)

Does anybody know if it was common for Monk to have his drummers's play stand-alone solo pieces like that? (very Max Roach influenced I'd say)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Klook Is The Man!

Footage of Kenny Clarke is fairly rare so I was pretty excited to see this one pop up recently.

Here's Kenneth Spearman Clarke, commonly known as "Klook" (and later known as Liaqat Ali Salaam), playing with J.J.Johnson, Sonny Stitt and Howard McGhee from a televised 1964 tribute to Charlie Parker on "My Little Suede Shoes":

Has anybody seen the rest of this program???

Notice how Klook is only using one ride cymbal in that clip and that's all he needs! Sometimes it's a nice challenge to show up at a gig with just one cymbal and to try and make it work (besides that's one less cymbal and stand to carry around, haha!)

And of course, Kenny's immaculate cymbal beat speaks for itself. As far as I'm concerned, we are still trying to chase after that one!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Roy Haynes Trio

We are so lucky to have Roy Haynes around these days! The man is a literal walking piece of Jazz history who's career spans over 70 years. I distinctly remember when I first heard Roy Haynes on the album Question & Answer with Pat Metheny and Dave Holland about 20 years ago and I've never turned back since! His playing is a source of inspiration for me every time I hear him play.

Here's some great concert footage from the Netherlands in 2009 with Roy Haynes joined by John Patitucci on bass and David Kikoski on piano:

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle 2012 Edition

And...we're back!

It's been a busy and exciting few weeks and I had a nice holiday break but I'm happy to be back in the saddle here and ready to get Four on The Floor rolling for 2012. Look for more blog posts, lessons, interviews and more interesting things to come in the year ahead. Thank you for your continued support.

Here's a few things that have been making the rounds around the office lately here over the past few weeks:

- Special thanks to the kind folks in Regina with the YQR Creative Arts Association who produced a great concert that I participated in last Wednesday that featured Andy King on trumpet, Donny Kennedy on alto saxophone, Kelly Jefferson on tenor saxophone, Jeff McLeod on piano and Joel Kerr on bass along with myself on drums. The music was outstanding, we played to an enthusiastic and standing-room only full crowd at the Exchange and the hang was great (with special thanks to Tumblers/Western Pizza, Bonzinni's, Bushwakker's and John Styles!) This was sort of a reunion/homecoming type of concert as I don't get to play with these fine musicians nearly as much as I used to back in the day. But we certainly make it count when we do get together to play! I think we set the bar pretty high this year and hopefully this particular configuration will do some more performing and recording in the future.

- Pianist George Colligan over at his great blog Jazz Truth has a great interview with Jack DeJohnette that was recently done while Colligan was touring Europe with DeJohnette's band:


- Speaking of interviews, follow these links to see a series of video interviews with Jeff Hamilton where he discusses various aspects of his drumming and his influences:


- I've posted this clip before but this concert has recently popped up in it's entirety (thanks to Chad Anderson who shared this with me) Here's an epic concert and drum battle that features an all-star line up of Art Blakey, Sunny Murray, Elvin Jones and Max Roach!

- Holidays are always good times to catch up on one's listening. Here's a few things that I've been checking out lately:

Wayne Shorter "The Soothsayer" - Tony Williams, drums

Wayne Shorter "Night Dreamer" - Elvin Jones, drums

Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" - Shelly Manne, drums

Warren Wolf "Warren Wolf" (self-titled) - Warren Wolf, vibraphone & Greg Hutchinson, drums

Mike LeDonne "Common Ground" - Kenny Washington, drums

Dexter Gordon "A Night in Copenhagen" - Art Taylor, drums

Michael Spiro "Bata Ketu" - various, percussion & vocals

Matt Wilson "Xmas Tree-O" - Matt Wilson, drums

- 2012 looks to be a busy and action packed year with lots of exciting projects coming up and on the go. Here's a plug for my first gig of the year and it looks to be a good one:



Andre Wickenheiser - Trumpet
Mark DeJong - Alto Saxophone
Jim Brenan - Tenor Saxophone
Carsten Rubeling - Trombone
Sarah Matheson - Baritone Saxophone
Michelle Gregoire - Piano
Rubim DeToledo - Bass
Jon McCaslin -Drums

Appearing at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club

811 - 1st Street SW
Calgary, AB

Friday, January 6 2012



This fun band made its debut last May as part of the new Summit Jazz Series which is being coordinated by some fearless and forward-thinking local Calgary Jazz artists in conjunction with the Cantos Music Foundation. Inspired by many of the great medium-sized Jazz ensembles such as the Joe Lovano Nonet, Rob McConnell's Tentet, The Birth of The Cool and Art Pepper + 11, this band will feature a program of hard swinging numbers that features great ensemble writing and a line-up that features many of Calgary's finest Jazz improvisors. Check it out!