Monday, December 22, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, yet another year has come and gone over here at Four on the Floor. Today's Monday Morning Paradiddle will be my last post for 2014. It's now time to kick back, relax, enjoy some eggnog and catch up on a few things before the big man arrives on December 25th. In the meantime, here's a few interesting things making the rounds around the office:

- Somebody was quite clever and compiled all these isolated drum tracks from some classic rock tunes:

Now if someone were to go to all the trouble and do the same with the likes of Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, etc. I will personally buy them lunch for all their trouble! Just sayin'...

- Scott K. Fish, former managing editor of Modern Drummer magazine, continues to maintain a fascinating blog with many great articles and interviews with the greats. Be sure to check out his blog Life Beyond the Cymbals at In particular, his four-part series on Joe Morello, remembering Buddy Rich, is really worth reading.

- I've received a lot of positive comments with regards to my previous posts about the benefit of playing and practicing along with recordings to help develop your time and musicality as a drummer. Here's a few more ideas from you, the reader. Thank you for your suggestions!

Stan Getz and Kenny Barron - "People Time"
Monty Alexander - "Triple Scoop"
Jim Chapin - "For Drummers Only"
Lee Konitz - "Alone Together"
Colin Bailey - "Drums Solos: The Art of Phrasing" (book w/CD)
Nick Brignola - "It's Time"
Kenny Barron and Dave Holland - "The Art of Conversation"
Cear Camargo Mariano & Romero Lubambo - "Duo"
Tal Farlow - "A Sign of the Times"
Kirl Lightsey Trio - "From Kirk to Nat"
Bill Mays & Red Mitchell - "Two of a Mind"
Steve Nelson - "Fuller Nelson"
David Sills - "Light Touch"
Kenny Wheeler - "What Now?"

- A few gems of wisdom from the late Eddie Harris:

- I'm really digging the collection of films posted on the Alan Lomax channel over at The amount of music and culture that this man documented is shocking. I've watched this one, in particular, many, many times....Here's Othar Turner and The Rising Sun Fife & Drum Band playing "The Call":

I'm not sure this really qualifies as being "second line", it's something related, but definitely something different too and I really dig it. This is a real lesson on how to make the snare drum groove.

- Here's my man Lewis Nash from a recent gig at New York's Smoke:

- And Gregory Hutchinson lays it down with a pair of brushes:

Apparently Hutch has some on-line lessons coming our way so be on the lookout.

- I've been a fan of Joe Farnsworth's since first seeing him at Smoke with Benny Golson during the late 90s in New York City. Check out what he can do with small drum set-up, sans toms and only one cymbal.

Well now, I guess it's time for me to re-visit my Wilcoxin and the Rudiment Ritual me thinks!

- Tony. Williams.

- Here'a cool guide to Neil Peart's drum setup courtesy of CBC Music:

- What am I listening to and reading these days?

Christopher Smith - "Mel Lewis: The View From the Back of the Band"

Billy Martin - "Wandering"

Maria Martinez - "Afro-Cuban Coordination for Drumset: The Essential Method and Workbook"

Pat Metheny "Day Trip" - Antonio Sanchez (drums)

"Birdman" (official soundtrack to the motion picture) - Antonio Sanchez & Brian Blade (drums)

Joe Lovano "Quartets: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol.1" (LP) - Billy Hart (drums)

- And the final word of 2014 undoubtedly goes to this man...

I think it was Max Roach that once said something along the lines of: "For every four notes that a drummer plays, three of those belong to Jo Jones!"

Thank you all for your continued support.
Drive safe and see you all in January 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Play-Along 2.0

My last post on the importance of playing along with recordings generated a few comments. Here's a few other suggestions from you, the reader, for things to practice and play along with:

Christian McBride - "Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock"

Christian McBride/Roy Hargrove/Stephen Scott - "Parker's Mood"

John Coltrane - "Coltrane Plays the Blues"
(apparently the drums are only on one channel so you can mix them out...)

Mike Murley/Ed Bickert/Steve Wallace - "Live at the Senator"

Any of Ahmad Jamal's 1950s drummer-less recordings
(thank you Todd Bishop from Cruiseship Drummer for this great suggestion!)


Also, there are a few other very good educational resources out there that I neglected to mention in my previous post:

Tommy Igoe's "Groove Essentials" series apparently has many very good tracks to play with.

John Riley's "The Art of Bop Drumming" and "Beyond Bop Drumming" both have excellent play-along tracks contained on the accompanying CDs. I've used these both extensively over the years and quite like them.

This one recently showed up in my mailbox and I look forward to checking this resource out in the coming weeks:

This one is unique in that there are two sets of tracks of each tune so you can hear Hart's drumming, interpretation and approach (with accompanying transcriptions) on one set of tracks and then try out your own ideas out on a second set of tracks without the drums (many of the tracks on John Riley's  CDs from his books also follow the same approach, however minus the transcriptions). I hope to play with Dave Liebman someday, so maybe this one might be a good start ; )

Okay, any others we should know about?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jack DeJohnette "Wise One"

This is an awesome trio featuring Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison on John Coltrane's "Wise One":"

Given DeJohnette's accomplishments and stature as a true, living Jazz legend, I think that the title of "Wise One" is a good choice ; )

I don't believe that this particular group has recorded as a trio yet but I hope that a release of some kind is forthcoming in the future...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BBC Radio 3: Jazz Libraries

From Richard Pite on Alyn Shipton's BBC Radio 3: Jazz Libraries, here's a series of podcasts featuring the music of several significant Jazz drummers and an overview of their styles and contributions:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Many years ago, when I was just getting started in this whole business of Jazz drumming, Toronto drummer Ted Warren gave me a great piece of advice that I still think about quite a bit and has been an invaluable tool in my development as a musician. I still incorporate this into my regular practice sessions and recommend it to all my students.

This brilliant piece of wisdom that Ted laid on me was that I spend some serious time practicing along with recordings of other great Jazz drummers, and any recordings in general that I enjoy listening to, in order to get my sense of time together.

I like to practice my rudiments and basic beats and patterns along with a metronome and we should obviously all spend time with one in order to develop a consistent sense of time. But in terms of developing my timekeeping AND musical sensibilities, playing along with recordings (both with and without drummers) has been and will always continue to be an invaluable learning tool.

Of course metronomes won't speed up or slow down and we need this steady reference point in order to learn how to play time in a steady, consistent way. But there is a lot to be said for learning to play in a way where, perhaps, the tempos do, in fact, move a little (and this isn't necessarily a bad thing....Ted called this the "human" element of timekeeping) and, importantly, how to play in the context of a musical performance. Really you can and should be able to practice playing at least a simple beat along with any recording. It really forces to you listen intensely and develop your listening skills (especially if the bass and/or drums are low in the mix).

For myself, playing with any recordings of Thelonious Monk's (ex. Monk's Dream) or Miles Davis (ex. Workin', Cookin', Steamin' and Relaxin') are always recordings that I find myself going back to (among many others.)

Also, there is a lot to be said for playing along with a given drummer, trying to get "inside the head" of that particular drummer's style. Trying to match, to a certain extent, the cymbal phrasing, style and feeling of another drummer is only going to benefit your own playing and development.

In terms of playing along with drummer-less recordings, there are many out there worth practicing along with as well.

Adam Nussbaum recommended to me playing along any of the early Nat King Cole trio recordings.

Years ago in a clinic with the Ed Shaughnessy, he recommended this particular Oscar Peterson record:–_Montreux_'77

In the back of his book "The Art of Bop Drumming", John Riley recommends the following drummer-less albums to play-along with:

Jim Hall "Jazz Guitar"

Wynton Kelly "Piano"

Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis "Triple Threat"

Oscar Peterson "The Trio"

Bill Evans "Undercurrent" and "Intuition"

Personally I recently discovered this album and have been enjoying this quite a bit (thank you Brad Shigeta for hipping me to this one...):

The interesting thing about playing with albums that don't have a drummer is that you can experiment with injecting your own ideas and stylistic interpretation without concerning yourself about identifying with the existing drummer on a particular track. Plus it's a great way to learn tunes, expand your repertoire and develop a "functional" approach to timekeeping (by observing the form of the tune, the melody, etc.)

Sometimes even just playing quarter notes on the ride cymbal along with one of these records will give your playing a real boost. Start simple and then add different parts of the drum set and layers of rhythmic complexity, all while trying to blend in with the "band."

For example, here's some interesting footage of Carl Allen playing along with a Gary Burton/Chick Corea duet and coming up with, I think, some pretty interesting conclusions:

A few other excellent drummer-less resources that I personally like to practice along with and highly recommend these days include:

- "Meet the Bass Player" by Allan Cox

- Any of Peter Erskine's play-along apps available for your iPhone or iPad:

- The play-along tracks that accompany the Steve Smith/Adam Nussbaum brush DVD "The Art of Playing with Brushes" are very good too:

And another thing: use your headphones but try to play along with all these resources while playing them through speakers too. You'll have to simplify, play really quiet and really focus on what you are playing along with. And that's a good thing!

So the next time you are wondering what to practice, put on a favourite recording and learn from the greats!

What are your favourite albums to play-along with?

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Another Afro-Cuban gem today, courtesy of the Remo drum head company:

And for the record, given my previous post from Monday, I'd like to hear Martinez and Jeff Watts join forces some day...

As you'll recall from previous posts, Pedrito did some great things teaming up with Steve Gadd a few years ago at PASIC 2012:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tain Up Close

Well now...thank's to the kind people over at Remo, here's some nice footage and very drum centric audio of Jeff "Tain" Watts performing, I think, with Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band:

Enjoy today's lesson. You're Welcome ; )

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Different Way to Visualize Rhythm

Whoa....I meant to post this on Monday (!) but got behind on some things and totally forgot about it. ANYWAYS, here's a brilliant and interesting little piece about how we visualize rhythm and how, perhaps, a circular approach may be more valid than the common linear means that we are used to:

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble Presents: "Made in Calgary: New Works for Jazz Orchestra"

Just a quick quick plug for an exciting concert of mine coming up here in Calgary, AB in an about a week:

The Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble Presents:

"Made in Calgary: New Works for Jazz Orchestra"

Featuring Original Music by:

Andre Wickenheiser
Lorna MacLachlan
Jonathan McCaslin
Mark Limacher
Carsten Rubeling
Mark DeJong
Dean Yeats
Jan Mulder

Featuring the 16-piece Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble

Friday, November 28              8:00pm

National Music Centre
134 11th Avenue SW

$30 General Admission
$20 Students

Tickets available at:

Featuring the Band!


Mark DeJong
Keith O’Rourke
Sean Craig
John Roggensack
Sarah Matheson


Carsten Rubeling
Dean Yeats
Nathan Gingrich
Paul Toutant


Andre Wickenheiser
Jay Michalak
Al Muirhead
Natalie DeJong

Jon McCaslin - Drums
Jeremy Coates - Bass
Mark Limacher – Piano


Join the Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble on Friday, November 28 (8:00pm) at the National Music Centre (134 11th Ave SW) as they proudly present an ambitious and exciting program of all original music, all composed and arranged by members of the local Calgary Jazz community. This program will contain a diverse and eclectic repertoire that will feature the members of this 16-piece ensemble, featuring Calgary’s best Jazz artists, and innovative, original compositions penned by many of the city’s creative talent. Come witness and enjoy a musical event featuring local artists unlike any other.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Monday Morning Paraddidle

And....we're back!

Sorry for the brief hiatus. Things have been very busy of late. I just finished up a very artistically satisfying run with the recent Decidedly Jazz Dancework's stage production of "The Year of The Horse: The Completely Fictional Adventures of Josephine Baker." It was a lot of work but the level of talent, creativity and overall artistry was incredible. It was quite an honour to be involved in this production.

I'm also proud to announce that I've finally completed and submitted my doctoral dissertation entitled "Melodic Jazz Drumming" that I've been working on for....well, some time now! Maybe I'll write more about that later...Special thanks to the many people who encouraged me along this journey and the many drummers, my heroes, who all lent their thoughts and opinions towards this project.

Anyhow, I'm still blogging when I can these days. Expect more to come now that these two major projects are out of the way....and here's a plethora of interesting things to check out this week:

- Pianist Renee Rosnes interviewed a number of important Canadian Jazz artists for CBC radio's series Jazz Portraits. Check these out (in particular the one with iconic Canadian Jazz Drummer Terry Clarke) archived over here:

- Ethan Iverson over at his blog Do The Math interviews Billy Hart and Mickey Roker:

These are older interviews but worth reading. More recently, check out this post from Ethan. Apparently there is an exciting movement afoot to publish some of Paul Motian's original music:

Let's make this happen!

- Speaking of interviews, here's John Riley interviewed by Mike Dolbear:

And here's also a conversation between Steve Smith and Zakir Hussain, also from Mike's great website:

- Ali Jackson Jr. speaks with WBGO about his new album "Amalgamations":

- I really enjoyed this blog post entitled "My Pretend Music School", some musings about the "ideal" music school in today's age:

Food for thought anyways...

- An interview with Buddy Rich by Mel Torme courtesy of Downbeat magazine:

- A Drummer's Memorial Roundtable on Billy Higgins thanks to Ted Panken over at Today is the Question:

- Here's a couple of great pieces from the New York Times...

An older 2006 article on Paul Motian:

And a more recent review of several drummer-led releases:

- I haven't seen it yet but the new movie out in theatres entitled "Birdman" features a music score of improvised drumming by Antonio Sanchez! I like it already. Check out this story about this unique film:

- George Colligan over at Jazz Truth interviews drummer Matt Jorgensen:

- Montreal Jazz drummer Dave Laing (my former teacher at McGill and mentor of mine) has been posting regular recordings from his extensive career. Check out this saxophone trio recording of Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" with Chet Doxas on tenor and Alec Walkington on bass:

- Need some advice? Kenny Washington has some good advice for us!

And now onto some music....

- Here's a fun one of Francisco Mela shedding at home:

I think he sounds great but somebody please get the man a new floor tom leg and/or bracket!

- I've really been digging Christian McBride's recent trio. Here's a couple of good ones of McBride and his drummer Ulysses Owen's Jr. in action:

- A brief brush solo from the master Lewis Nash:

- Here's a close-up of Greg Hutchinson in action with Joshua Redman (thanks Conor Guilfoyle!):

- And to top it off, here's Bill Stewart doing what he does so perfectly...

- What am I listening to these days?

Geoff Clapp "Bend in the River" - Geoff Clapp (drums)

Jim Brenan "January" - Dana Hall (drums)

Ignacio Berroa "Heritage and Passion" - Ignacio Berroa (drums)

Stan Getz & Oscar Peterson "Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio"

Brian Lynch "Back Room Blues" - Lewis Nash (drums)

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers "Caravan" - Art Blakey (drums)

Ali Jackson Jr. "Amalgamations" - Ali Jackson Jr. (drums)

Rodney Green "Live at Small's" - Rodney Green (drums)

Duke Ellington "The Piano Sessions" - Dave Black, Sam Woodyard (drums)

- And finally, today's Last Word goes to this guy...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Carvin on Rudiments

Some more great lessons today thank to the nice folks over at the Jazz@Lincoln Center's Jazz Academy channel. Here's the great Michael Carvin demonstrating some important drum solo concepts and....all your rudiments!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oral History with Albert "Tootie" Heath

There are many great lessons and other great Jazz related things over the Jazz at Lincoln Center's Jazz Academy page worth checking out. I really enjoyed this three part interview with the great Albert "Tootie" Heath:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eddie Gladden with Dexter Gordon

Thanks to Bill Steiger for passing along these wonderful and BURNING clips of the underrated Eddie Gladden from a 1979 North Sea Jazz Festival featuring Dexter Gordon, Kirk Lightsey and Rufus Reid:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bobby Sanabria LP Basics

Thanks to the kind people over at LP Percussion, here's drummer/percussionist/educator extraordinare Bobby Sanabria demonstrating several Afro-Cuban rhythms as applied to the drum set:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Max Senitt

Today's challenging guest blog post comes from Toronto-based drummer extraordinare Max Senitt. I used to hear him play around town all the time while I was living in Toronto five, six years ago and he's also written a series of great articles on drumming for Canadian Musician Magazine.

A little about Max:

Toronto based drummer, Max Senitt, has been playing music for longer than he can remember. He started in his crib, kicking the side with a surprisingly steady pulse. By the age of seven, interest in "skillful banging" continued to escalate, and a drum set was appropriately purchased. Now with more than 30 years of drumming under his belt, Max shows no signs of slowing down. The beautiful sounds of music from all around the world continue to inspire and feed his deep thirst for musical knowledge. 

Max maintains a busy freelance career playing a wide range of musical styles with many highly acclaimed Juno and Grammy Award winning artists. 
Past and present credits include working with the likes of Alex Cuba, Gord Sheard, Hilario Duran, Carol Welsman, Zebrina, Eliana Cuevas, Gary Morgan and Panamericana, Etienne Charles, The Flying Bulgars, Canefire, Elizabeth Shepherd and Odessa Havana.


"The 5 stroke Roll/Venezuelan Merengue Exercise" by: Max Senitt

That’s right! Here is a fun and challenging little exercise that combines an application of the 5 stroke roll inspired by my friend, master drummer/teacher Pedro Barahona, who I met earlier this year while in Chile (you can read an article about that meeting here: ), and two foot ostinatos that come from a very interesting Venezuelan Folk rhythm called “Merengue”. The Venezuelan Merengue is quite different from the more popular “Merengue”, which originates from the Dominican Republic. The biggest difference between the two rhythms is the time signature. The Venezuelan Merengue in 5/8, whereas the Dominican version is in Cut Time or 4/4.

To begin, become acquainted with the first 5 hand patterns. You will notice that they are essentially just 5 stroke rolls leaving out the pause after the single hit that we are all accustomed to doing. This is the element that I learned from Pedro. You will also notice that patterns 2-5 are simply permutations of the first one, or the same pattern shifted over to have the single accented hit fall on each part of the beat. The technique of permutation is a frequently reoccurring theme in my teaching and practice, due to its completeness and challenging qualities.

Once you have a handle on the hand patterns, begin to add the feet. The basis of the Venezuelan Merengue shown in foot pattern, is quite similar to a 6/8 rhythm found in many parts of South America. This rhythm is created by adding one extra 8th note rest at the end of bar. Some of the names of the 6/8 version are: Joropo in Venezuela, Chacarera in Argentina, Cueca in Chile, and Lando in Peru. The 5/8 rhythm has been know to be called the “Drunken Six” due to its limping sensation. As you become comfortable with each hand pattern over the 2 foot ostinatos, have some fun orchestrating the accents around the drums. You can also apply buzz strokes and “diddles” to the accents.

One thing I recommend as you are researching deeper on the Venezuelan Merengue (which you will do of course!), try searching “merengue venezolano” and you will find the 5/8 goodness a lot easier! You can also find some nice Venezuelan Merengue on the latest album from pianist Edward Simon:

Thanks for reading this article, and if you have any further questions or would like to book a private or skype lesson with me, I can be reached though my website and also found on Facebook, Twitter,, and Instagram.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Drums & Bass with Ed Soph

Here's an interesting recital featuring bassist Fred Hamilton with UNT drum professor Ed Soph in a creative and musical demonstration of how to play in duet a with only bass and drums:

This is something that I'd actually like to see more of. In fact, this idea reminds somewhat of an old record featuring Jo Jones and Milt Hinton, playing duets entitled "Percussion and Bass". Montreal bassist Alec Walkington also reminded me a number of years ago about a recording of Paul Chambers and Art Blakey playing duets on the album "Drums Around the Corner" on the pieces "What is This Thing Called Love" and the Irving Berlin tune "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" that were quite illuminating. I also remember having a discussion with Toronto bassist Mike Downes about how he used to sit down with drummer Ted Warren and practice together on a regular basis to get their groove together when they were students at McGill.

Anyways, the lesson here is that it's always a great idea as a drummer to sit down with a bass player and make some music together even if it's just the two of you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well today is officially the first day of Fall and I'm still trying to figure out where my Summer went....anyways, despite the changing seasons our foreign correspondents over here at Four on the Floor are still hard at work, collecting a myriad of things to share with you today. I hope you all enjoy these bits and pieces and learn something in the process...

- Toronto bassist Steve Wallace is up to great things over at his blog and wrote this GREAT column on the career of the very underrated drummer Osie Johnson entitled "The Strange Case of Osie Johnson":

Check it out and let's hope that Steve keeps writing about his favourite drummers!

Here's some rare footage of Osie Johnson with Thelonious Monk from the CBS television special "The Sound of Jazz":

- Montreal pianist Josh Rager is back blogging over at X..Y.. Jazz after a brief hiatus. Here's a couple of recent posts dealing with rhythm and how to develop your "inner drummer":

Welcome back Josh!

- Irish bassist and rhythm guru Ronan Guilfoyle completes his excellent three-part interview with Keith Copeland over here:

The video quality isn't the greatest but here's some KILLING footage of Ronan with Dave Liebman and Jim Black, recorded at the 55 Bar a few years ago:

- Matt Wilson hosts this fun episode of NPR's "Drum Fill Friday":

I got 4 out of 5 right!

- Speaking of Matt, here's an old article I dug up where Wilson talks about his favourite ride cymbal "melodies":

- Also from NPR here's a great series on rhythm entitled: "Rhythm Section: Spending a Week Trying to Catch the Beat":

Thank you to Regina, Saskatchewan percussionist Joanne Crofford who sent this one my way.

- Here's an interview with drummer/vibraphonist with the ever insightful Jason Marsalis to check out:

- Thanks to Toronto drummer Max Senitt who hipped me this great website: The Drummers Resource. There is a lot of great information to be found here including several audio podcasts:

Make sure to check out the inspiring and motivating interviews with Peter Erskine, Michael Carvin and Jimmy Wormworth!

- Another nice article over here on Dutch improviser and drummer Han Bennink from "The Highway is my Home":

Thanks to Toronto guitarist Reg Schwager for these finds!

- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who forwarded these gems of wisdom from the late Chuck Silverman:

There is a wealth of great ideas to learn from here!

- I recently purchased a copy of the latest issue of Rhythm magazine from the UK featuring a nice cover story on Tony Williams. However, I was also thrilled to find a great article on British drummer Allan Cox who is currently holding down the drum chair with the Monty Python production in London.

Allan and I have a few mutual acquaintances and he is also the producer of "Meet the Bass Player", a wonderful Jazz drumming play-a-long resource that Terry Clarke first introduced me to when I studied with him and I highly recommend it to all my students and colleagues.

Learn more about Allan and "Meet the Bass Player" over at his website:

- Support your local drum shop and/or music store! Here's an article on someone who's trying to make a difference in Toronto via The Grid:

Best of luck to Toronto's Century Drum Shop!

- Chris Smith has recently written and published a great new book on the life of Mel Lewis that I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on and reading:

- Of course no Monday Morning Paradiddle column would be complete without a few videos of my favourite drummers to share with you all!

Here's John Riley with trumpeter Joe Magnarlli in a duet version of "Invitation" from a recent summer Jazz workshop in Italy:

- I've only recently been introduced to the drumming of Sebastian Whittaker but man, he's great! Here is some really mean brush playing, another duet, on "The Surrey with a Fringe on Top":

- Okay, more duets! Here's a fun one between Jeff "Tain" Watts and percussionist Eliel Lazo to dig your claves into:

I'd love to see Tain and Pedrito Martinez go at it together someday. Just sayin'...haha

- From a recent performance at the Albany Jazz Festival, here's the great Jack DeJohnette in action:

- I've also been listening to this Chris Potter album a lot lately with Lewis Nash and Christian McBride. Here's a killing version of "Solar":

While I was living in Montreal during the early 2000s, many albums recorded on the Criss Cross label (such as this one) were making the rounds of all the used CD shops in Montreal's Plateau district. Why? I have no idea but that was sure a great time to discover new music and that label has exposed me to a lot of great music over the years, great stuff that otherwise might go under the radar.

- What am I listening to these days?

Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" - Jack DeJohnette, Lenny White (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers "The Big Beat" - Art Blakey (drums)

Freddie Hubbard "Without a Song" - Louis Hayes (drums)

Branford Marsalis "Trio Jeepy" - Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums)

Jeff "Tain" Watts "Watts!" - Jeff Watts (drums)

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash Duo "Duologue" - Lewis Nash (drums)

Chris Potter "Presenting Chris Potter" - Lewis Nash (drums)

Benny Carter "Further Definitions" - Jo Jones (drums)

Teddy Edwards & Howard McGhee "Together Again!!!" - Ed Thigpen (drums)

- And the Last Word today goes to....this guy!


Monday, September 15, 2014


Thank you to my friends over at for passing along these great lessons with Peter Erskine, explaining some important and basic concepts, courtesy of The Drum Brother:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Klook & Dizzy - Cannes 1958

Okay...the footage that follows is absolutely brilliant. We as Jazz drummers are very lucky to have this in our midst to watch, study and inspire us. Here's the great Kenny Clarke with Dizzy Gillespie from Cannes circa. 1958:

Check out Klook's left hand!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adam Nussbaum & WeThree

August (and summer!) is winding down quickly here. For some of us it's almost time to go back to school and whatnot...but let's instead distract ourselves with one of my favourite chord-less saxophone trios, We Three featuring Dave Liebman on tenor saxophone, Steve Swallow on electric bass and the ever loose and swinging Adam Nussbaum on drums, performing Thelonious Monk's "Played Twice"":

I really admire the way Adam is always going back and clearly referencing the melody while he solos, all while dancing around the groove with Swallow. While he's also capable of playing ALOT of drums, he's also not afraid to leave a bit of space, letting the music breath and really have a chance to develop. These guys are ALL ears ALL the time! A great example to follow.

Monday, August 18, 2014

John Patitucci with Brian Blade

From John Patitucci's ArtistWorks Sessions, here's a pretty happening trio featuring John with Jon Cowherd on piano and Brian Blade on drums:

Check out more of this session and John's lessons at:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Daniel Glass: History of the Drumset

Looking for some great summertime viewing? Thanks to the kind people over at Vic Firth here's Daniel Glass and his informative 17 part series (!) on the history and evolution of the drumset to check out:

Also, check out this cool poster showing a timeline of the evolution of the drumset instrument:

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, summer is about half way over now and things keep on moving along. I'm happy to report that I've made some significant progress on my doctoral dissertation and I hope to have that completed by summer's end. I love playing the drums but I had no idea that at one point in my life I would spend so much time reading and writing about them! Anyways, the end is nearly in sight and I've learned a great deal while researching and writing this project.

Even though we're well into summer hours over here at FOTF, here's a few things making the rounds around the office to share with you today:

- Former Modern Drummer magazine managing editor Scott K. Fish is now blogging over at Beyond The Cymbals:

Pay attention to his writing. Scott has interviewed A LOT of great drummers over the years!

- Vinnie Sperrazza is also now blogging over at his website Drummer et Cetera. Check out this article on why he uses traditional grip:

The debate of whether or not to use traditional grip or traditional vs. matched grip can be a very tense and opinionated subject indeed. I fully relate to, agree with and endorse all the statements in Sperrazza's article.

- Todd Bishop over at his fine blog Cruiseship Drummer has a nice interview with the recently deceased Frankie Dunlop worth checking out here: (originally from the pages of Modern Drummer)

And of course, here's some great footage of Dunlop with Thelonious Monk:

During my graduate studies at McGill University my drum teacher, Andre White, had me listen to and transcribe Dunlop's soloing and comping extensively. He was a very unique drummer that fit Monk's concept perfectly and it's worth spending some time studying his style.

- From Manitoba Music's "Loft Sessions" here's Winnipeg's up-and-coming Curtis Nowosad with his band:,media/1570/loft-sessions-dialectics

Curtis is currently completing his graduate work at the Manhattan School of Music. Be sure to keep an eye and ear out for him in the year's to come.

- Nicholas Payton is also blogging and voicing his opinions over his website. Check out this amazing post "Masters of Funky New Orleans Drumming Vol.1" in which he has compiled some seriously important and funky music to learn from:

- Thanks to Saskatoon Jazz educator Nick Fanner who passed along this article by reedman Scott Robinson, an articulate statement on how the state our society is becoming stale and predictable:

- Thanks to David Stanoch via the Facebook, here's some great Jeff Hamilton lessons to check out:

- Jeff Ballard recently toured Canada and the world with his trio featuring Lionel Louke and Miguel Zenon. I heard them at the Edmonton Jazz Festival and they sounded phenomenal. Here's Jeff in a brief Q&A interview from the Vancouver Jazz Festival:

- I can definitely relate to this one, seeing as I have been spending a lot of time at a desk recently, trying to write and get some work done...

- What am I listening to these days?

Bela Bartok "Concerto for Orchestra"

Craig Brenan "Automatic Robots" - Ted Poor (drums)

Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" - Peter Erskine (drums)

Clifford Brown "Clifford Brown and Strings" - Max Roach (drums)

Duke Ellington "Ellington Uptown" - Louie Bellson (drums)

Johnathan Blake "Gone, But Not Forgotten" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

Phil Dwyer "Saxophone Summit" - Terry Clarke (drums)

Nat King Cole Trio "Live at the Circle Room"

Paul Read Quintet with Scott Robinson "The Heart of Summer" - Barry Elmes (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to George Sluppick, via his blog, on the recent passing of drumming great Idris Muhammad:

And another nice piece on Idris Muhammad via

I only heard Idris live once, at New York's Birdland around the fall of the year 2000, in a band featuring Tom Harrell, Donald Harrison, Gary Bartz, Junior Mance and Dennis Irwin. They were playing a tribute to Charlie Parker and I was astounded at Muhammad's effortless swing and deep, loose groove. When you listened to him play you could literally hear the entire tradition of New Orleans drumming take shape with so many diverse influences, all swinging like mad. And course, wearing his trademark dark sunglasses and beret, cocked to the side, there was no doubt at all as to who the coolest man in the room was that night!

And here's another one from Joe Lovano, a man who knows and appreciates a good drummer when he sees one!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Up Close with Bill Stewart

Today's "Up Close with..." features some great drumming with modern Master Bill Stewart:

Thank you to Nicholas Payton via his fine blog for sharing this one!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Up Close with Matt Wilson

Here's some great, up close action footage of my friend and mentor, Matt Wilson performing with the late, great Charlie Haden and his Liberation Music Orchestra:

It's always a lesson to watch a Master in action but, in particular, check out how much fun Mr. Wilson is having playing the drums with Charlie.

You can also find some great tributes to Haden as well over at Ethan Iverson's find blog, Do The Math:

Here are Matt's touching words of praise and tribute to his friend, Charlie Haden:

"When my wife Felicia and I found out we were having triplets my dear friend and mentor Dewey Redman urged me to call Charlie for support. I recall saying, " Hello Charlie, this is Matt Wilson. and I need to talk to you, but not about music. My wife and I are having triplets." He said, "Wow, man, that is great, man. I am on another call I'll be right back."And he was. We talked for over an hour. It was a beautiful conversation and his words of support were encouraging. Charlie has a son, Josh, and triplet daughters Petra, Tanya and Rachel. I have a daughter, Audrey, and triplet sons Max, Henry and Ethan. 8 kids, 4 ages.We called ourselves the Fathers of Triplets Rhythm Team.

The first time I played with Charlie was in the fall of 2003. We played a concert in San Francisco with Dewey and Joshua Redman. I recall, from the very first beat, how buoyant and comfortable the time felt. Charlie's walking feel seem to purr. It was strong but patient and the shape of his sound embraced the cymbal melody like a big warm hug. It was heaven to play sounds with him. I was thrilled when he phoned and asked me to play in the Liberation Music Orchestra not long after that gig. We rehearsed and started the tour at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the summer of 2004. Also in Montreal, I was honored to play with Charlie and Dewey Redman in a trio concert. I had been playing with Dewey since 1994 and to be included in this setting was a career highlight. They even had me do the set list. I can recall saying out loud to myself in between tunes, "I am really here. This is not a dream. This is UNBELIEVABLE!" There is a bootleg of it out there somewhere that I would love to have. 

The Liberation Music Orchestra experience was special. The arrangements by Carla Bley were extraordinary and the members of the band not only blended musically but personally. We were a real family and the memories of music and fellowship will always be dear to me. I remember playing a rock club with the band in Los Angeles. During a solo I had in the middle of a "America the Beautiful" I strapped on the snare drum and marched the audience out onto the sidewalk in front of the club and then back inside. As I returned I thought to myself, "This could very well be my last night with the band." I sat back down and turned back to look at Charlie with a bit of apprehension. He was smiling and gave me an approving thumbs up along with, "Wooo, Matt Wilson. Yeah man!" 

My daughter Audrey really loved Charlie. They really connected after she first met him. Charlie and his wife Ruth, who were always very kind to Felicia, me and the children, invited me to bring the kids to see a screening of the documentary about Charlie, Ramblin' Boy, at the Walter Reade Theater. This was not long after Felicia was diagnosed with leukemia so I brought Audrey and Ethan to the the theater as a distraction. The film was fantastic and we enjoyed it immensely. While watching, Audrey, who was 12 at the time, counted how many times in the film Charlie said, "Man." After the film and discussion we went up to say hello to Charlie and Ruth and thank them for the invitation. Charlie saw Audrey and greeted her with, " Hi Audrey, nice to see you man." Audrey replied, "Hi Charlie, it is nice to see you."She then quickly whispered in my ear, "Number 39."Priceless. 

I loved talking on the phone with Charlie and tried to do so on regular basis. I remember him playing mixes of the LMO recording, Not In Our Name, over the phone. Charlie always had a good joke to two to share along with political discussions. 

The last time I spoke with him was on June 16 the day after my wife Felicia lost her battle with leukemia. It was brief. His voice was weak but his words were strong. 

Charlie Haden - "I love you man! " I am eternally grateful for the amazing fun we had on the bandstand, the road and on the telephone. Your deep spirit, love and compassion will forever be a part of my musical presence."

- Matt Wilson, from "Do The Math"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Digging Max

When people ask me who my favourite drummer is (I have many!) the name Max Roach is usually the first to come out of my mouth.

I came across a few items lately that reminded me as to why this man has had such a powerful impact on my own music:

- Here is Amiri Baraka's powerful eulogy from Max Roach's funeral in 2007:

And here's the wonderful piece of prose entitled "Digging Max" by Amiri Baraka:

Max is the highest 
The outest, the 
Largest, the greatest, 
The fastest, the hippest, 
The all the way past which 
There cannot be

When we say MAX, that’s what 
We mean, hip always 
Clean. That’s our word 
For Artist, Djali, Nzuri Ngoma, 
Senor Congero, Leader, Mwalimu, 
Scientist of Sound, Sonic Designer, 
Trappist Definer, Composer, Revolutionary 
Democrat, Bird’s Black Injun Engine, Brownie’s Other Half, Abbey’s Djeli-ya-Graph

Who bakes the Western industrial singing machine 
Into temperatures of syncopated beyondness 
Out Sharp Mean

Papa Jo’s Successor 
Philly Joe’s Confessor 
AT’s mentor, Roy Haynes’ Inventor 
Steve McCall’s Trainer

Ask Buhainia, Jimmy Cobb, Elvin or Klook 
Or even Sunny Murray, when he ain’t in a hurry. 
Milford is down and Roy Brooks 
Is one of his cooks. Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, 
Andrew Cyrille can tell you or youngish Pheeroan, 
Beaver and Blackwell and my man, Dennis Charles. 
They’ll run it down, ask them the next time they in town.

Ask any or all of the rhythm’n. Shadow cd tell you, so cd 
Shelly Manne, Chico Hamilton. Rashied knows, Billy Hart. Eddie Crawford 
From Newark has split, but he and Eddie Gladden could speak on it. 
Mtume, if he will. Big Black can speak. Let Tito Puente run it down, 
He and Max been tight since they were babies in this town.

Frankie Dunlop cd tell you and he speak a long time. 
Pretty Purdy is hip. Max hit with Duke at Eighteen. 
He played with Benny Carter when he first made the scene. 
Dig the heavy learning that went with that. Newk knows, 
And McCoy. CT would agree. Hey, ask me or Archie or Michael Carvin 
Percy Heath, Jackie Mc are all hip to the Max Attack.

Barry Harris can tell you. You in touch with Monk or Bird? 
Ask Bud if you see him, You know he know, even after the cops 
Beat him Un Poco Loco. I mean you can ask Pharoah or David 
Or Dizzy, when he come out of hiding, it’s a trick Diz just outta sight. 
I heard Con Alma and Diz and Max in Paris, just the other night.

But ask anybody conscious, who Max Roach be. Miles certainly knew 
And Coltrane too. All the cats who know the science of Drum, know where our 
Last dispensation come from. That’s why we call him, MAX, the ultimate, 
The Furthest Star. The eternal internal, the visible invisible, the message 
From afar.

All Hail, MAX, from On to Dignataria to Serious and even beyond! 
He is the mighty SCARAB, immortal as our music, world without end. 
Great artist Universal Teacher, and for any Digger 
One of our deepest friends! Hey, MAX! MAX! MAX!

-Amiri Baraka (Written in 1999, read at Max Roach’s funeral, Aug. 24, 2007)