Monday, March 31, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Hello everyone. March is nearly over and Spring should be just around the corner but we've had a brutal Winter up here in Canada and I think that this snow and cold weather will still be here for some time to come. Personally, I'm done with it. Let's get on with Spring already...

- Well, to at least think about some warmer weather (!) here's a nice piece from NPR recounting a drummer's study trip to Cuba:

- Here's some more great rudimental drumming clips of snare drumming great Rob Carson to check out:

This website is an overall great resource for all things related to the art of rudimental drumming and there's lots to learn and practice here!

- Last year, the Government of Alberta announced a series of budget cuts to education and, subsequently, Calgary's Mount Royal University cut it's ENTIRE fine arts program as a result (!) including it's long-time Jazz studies program. Retired Jazz bass instructor John Hyde recently wrote these wise words with regards to this tragic and stupid turn of events:

- Congratulations to recent Juno award winners Mike Downes, Christine Jensen, Mike Rud and Sienna Dahlen. These are all very hard-working and talented Canadian Jazz musicians. It's nice to see them all recognized for their work and, hey, they're all McGill graduates too!

Dig this:

- Joe Farnsworth is one hard swinging drummer and we can all take a lesson from his dedicated style. Here he is on the Benny Golson classic "Stablemates" from a jam session in Russia:

- As a drummer, bass players are our greatest allies and one should never pass up the opportunity to listen to a great bassist. Here is Dave Holland playing the Blues:

- Furthermore, supreme artistry on any instrument should always be admired and respected, no matter the context. Here's Tom Harrell playing over Blues in all keys with Jamey Aebersold on piano:


- A bit brief but here's Benny Green's trio from a recent hit in Japan with Rodney Green on drums:

- I posted this one a long time ago but I've been coming back to this one lately just because it's so damn cool.  Here's a cymbal-less Steve Gadd on drums with percussionist Pedrito Martinez:

- What am I listening to these days?

Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band - "Rumba Buhaina" - Steve Berrios (drums & percussion)

Harold Land & Bobby Hutcherson - "Blow Up" - Joe Chambers (drums), Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone)

Wayne Shorter - "The Soothsayer"- Tony Williams (drums)

Dexter Gordon/Slide Hampton - "A Day in Copenhagen"- Art Taylor (drums)

- It was with great sadness that I learned that the great Al Harewood recently passed away.

I was first introduced to Al's swinging and musical drumming during the mid 1990s thanks to my drum teacher at McGill University, Chris McCann (if you haven't heard Stanley Turrentine's "Up at Minton's" RUN, don't walk to the nearest iTunes store lol and pick this one up!) I had the pleasure of interviewing Al over the phone over the course of three days for a project I was writing for Kevin Dean's performance practice course. I've got hours of our conversations together on cassette somewhere. He was very gracious with his time, sharing his life experience with me and he was flattered that I was even interested in what he did. Someday I'll dig up those cassette tapes and transcribe them.

Last I had heard, Al had been spending most of his retirement in Barbados and according to vocalist Cici Duke was a highly respected elder musician in the island community. I wasn't even sure if Al was even with us for the longest time so I was thrilled to hear that and then see that Mr. Al Harewood (or "Mr. Tip" as he was known in jazz drumming circles) had recently celebrated his 90th birthday in the company of the world's greatest jazz drummers at a party held at Don Sickler's loft (thanks to Billy Drummond for providing photos and an update a while ago.)

Ethan Iverson over his blog Do The Math wrote a very piece on Harewood over here:

Al Harewood was an incredible drummer who played with conviction, sensitivity and taste. He wasn't a flashy drummer or soloist by any means but he really did what needed to be done to make the music happen. As he reminded me during our interviews together: "Put the swing on top and you'll never go wrong!"

He will be missed.

- I feel like listening to this right now...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Oscar Peterson with Dexter Gordon

Here's a good one to mull over for the weekend ahead...some seriously swinging music from Oscar Peterson's trio (with Bobby Durham on drums and Sam Jones on bass!) featuring Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone on "You Stepped Out of A Dream":

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mike Clark

I've really been digging Mike Clark's insightful (and often humorous!) posts on Facebook lately.

This led me to find some amazing clips of Clark playing and talking about some of his influences and interactions with many of jazz drumming's greats (see my previous post featuring Clark speaking about Tony Williams) as well as demonstrating his incredible technique, musicality and unique style to playing the drums.

Here's an excerpt of Mike from his new instructional series via

As Mike explains, he truly was a jazz drumming product of the 1960s in terms of his style and influences and a bebopper in addition to his immense contributions to funk drumming. Here he is talking about the influence of Elvin Jones:

And here Clark speaks to the great Papa Jo Jones:

Finally, from a masterclass at Drummers Collective in New York City, here's Mike Clark demonstrating some solo ideas over a 32-bar, AABA form:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Klook with J.J. Johnson

More Kenny Clarke today thanks to Edmonton's Brad Shigeta. Here's Klook with J.J. Johnson in some rare trombone trio action:

It's obviously too short (!) but I could listen to these three play all day long...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mark Walker Plays Brazil

This is some absolutely phenomenal Brazilian drum set playing, courtesy of Mark Walker, taken from a recent workshop in Ecuador:

Also make sure to check out his series of Brazilian drum set lessons here:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Linear Stick Control Variations Revisited

Here's a redux version of my previous lesson from a few weeks ago using Stick Control to come up with some interesting linear patterns using both your hands and feet....but this time with proper notation and some further explanations! Thanks for bearing with me here.


Stick Control Linear Variations

Here's a series of little variations on a Stick Control exercise I took from Steve Smith's excellent DVD "The Art of Playing Brushes" (with Adam Nussbaum). I believe that Steve originally got this one from his time studying with Alan Dawson in Boston. I've found this to be a great way to engage all my limbs at the same time and develop an overall sense of coordinated balance on the drum set.

Take the first few pages of Stick Control. Using a steady rhythm of eighth-notes as your rhythmic template, use these following variations as your guide to create some interesting linear ideas:

1) Exercise #1

Follow each Right and Left hand on the snare drum with the bass drum.

For example, a paradiddle sticking RLRR LRLL would look like this:

2) Example #2

Do the same as above but substitute the hi-hat (open or closed) instead of the bass drum.

A paradiddle sticking would then look like this:

3) Example #3

Following the same logic as above:

- When you play R with your Right Hand, follow it with the bass drum.

- When you play L with your Left Hand, follow it with the hi-hat (open or closed, your choice)

So a paradiddle sticking RLRR LRLL would look like this:

4) Exercise #4 (variation)

- When you play R with your Right Hand, follow it with the hi-hat (open or closed, your choice)

- When you play L with your Left Hand, follow it with the bass drum

So the following RLRR LRLL combination would look like this:

You'll find that you come up with some pretty interesting and challenging four-limb linear patterns as the sticking variations develop. Some of them are even reminiscent of some things you might hear Tony Williams play.

You might also want to try putting your hands on different parts of the drum set as well. This is what Exercise #3 would look like with the Right hand on the ride cymbal:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snare Drum Farnsworth

A serious lesson from Joe Farnsworth on how to make your snare drum really sing:

Who needs a tom tom or floor tom anyways...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Joe Harris with Sonny Rollins "Paul's Pal"

I'm going to be off the grid for awhile and hitting the beach here shortly, so check this one out until I return...

Here's some rare footage of the great Joe Harris with Sonny Rollins and Henry Grimes on bass to check out:

I've only really known Harris from his work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band but, as you can see here, he was equally comfortable in small groups as well and fits perfectly with Rollins' chord-less, trio configuration. Check out those creative, swinging fours between Harris and Rollins.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Kenny Clarke "Nervus"

Thanks to Colin Bailey for passing this one along via the Facebook:


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back everybody and welcome to March. I'm just returning from a very musically satisfying weekend of playing some very creative music with pianist/composer David Braid in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan but, man, it was really cold...

Here's what's making the rounds over here at the sufficiently heated Four on the Floor office today:

- I've really been digging the on-line drum magazine The Drummer's Journal lately over at:

Check it out. And buy one of their hip t-shirts.

- This article on Elvin Jones courtesy of JazzTimes magazine has been making the rounds recently:

It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since Elvin left us...

- Thanks to Todd Bishop over at his blog Cruiseship Drummer where he provides some nice commentary and even some transcriptions of this groovy little guy, busking in Nigeria:

Find Todd's fine analysis over here:

- Francisco Mela is a Cuban-born Jazz drummer whom I'd admired for the last couple of years. His blending of modern straight-ahead Jazz influences with his Afro-Cuban rhythmic roots is quite unique.

Here he is taking a nice little solo:

- Drummer Daniel Glass has produced a wonderful series for Vic Firth documenting the history of the drum set. Here he is talking about the origin of the brushes (aka "Flyswatters"!):

For more great things relating to the history of the drums, check out Daniel's website:

- Thanks to Tim Mah who passed on this documentary about this history of Jazz in Montreal:

And here's a little piece in that regards from NPR's A Blog Supreme:

- And here's a great podcast interview with Billy Martin courtesy of 5049 Records:

- What am I listening to these days?

David Braid and Phil Nimmons "Suite St. John's: Falling Through"

Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski "Gathering Call" - Matt Wilson (drums)

Duke Jordan "Flight to Jordan" - Art Taylor (drums)

Bobby Hutcherson "Stick Up" - Billy Higgins (drums), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes)

Dexter Gordon & Slide Hampton "A Day in Copenhagen" - Art Taylor (drums)

Illinois Jacquet  "The Blues, That's Me!" - Oliver Jackson (drums)

Max Roach & Anthony Braxton " Birth, Rebirth" - Max Roach (drums)

The Big Beat (compilation) - Art Blakey, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones (drums)

Milt Jackson "At the Museum of Modern Art" - Otis "Candy" Finch (drums), Milt Jackson (vibes)

Shelly Manne "2-3-4" - Shelly Manne (drums)

- The Final Word:

Finally, some inspiring words to finish up today's post from Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno on creativity and hard work: