Friday, September 30, 2011

Broadview



I received this recent collaboration between Toronto artists Ted Warren (drums), Mike Murley (tenor saxophone) and Rich Brown (electric bass) in mail the other day courtesy of label manager & recording engineer extraordinaire Steve Bellamy. The band, collectively known as Broadview, recently released their first CD entitled "Two of Clubs" on the Toronto-based record label ADDO Records.

I've known these three musicians and admired their work in different projects over the years but was really excited to hear this collective project come about (and which was recorded live between two different Toronto Jazz venues: The Rex Hotel & Jazz Bar and Chalkers Pub),

Ted grew up in Regina (as did I) but had already moved out East to Toronto via Nova Scotia and Montreal and had long established himself as one of Canada's premier, young creative Jazz voices by the time I met him in the early 90s while he was performing in Regina. In fact, Mike Murley was that gig as well with bassist Jim Vivian in pianist John Stetch's quartet which performed at the Regina Jazz Society. Hard to believe that was almost twenty years ago! I've since heard Ted and Mike play together in a variety of contexts and both never fail to impress.

Ted recently did an interview with The Purple Cabbage, a great Toronto-centric jazz blog. When asked about his new project, Broadview:

"In a nutshell, the initial concept behind Broadview was my desire to get an opportunity to play with Rich and Mike more often. I knew they would sound great in a chordless format and we would have a lot of fun playing together. I generally wrote specifically for the trio. With the chordless trio format, the challenge has been writing and performing music that relies on largely implied harmonies. At any one time, the listener hears the melody note and the bass note, and is required to imagine the notes in between. As a drummer, this is something that I feel I’ve had to work at in a different way, in contrast to the other two [Murley and Brown] who seem to have more of a natural feel for it. That being said, it has been and still is a fun challenge for me, and I’m really enjoying it. The playing, as I expected, has been a great joy from the very first note we played."

Here's some footage of this dynamic trio from a performance recorded earlier this year at the Kingston Public Library:













If only every public library in Canada was hip enough to feature musicians of this caliber in performances such as this. Politicians take note: Now THAT is one good example of how public funding can help support the arts in our communities! Artists of all disciplines need venues and outlets to present their creations AND get paid properly to do it. Using public spaces like libraries and community centres offer ideal opportunities to do this kind of thing. Way to go Kingston.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Weekend

A few gigs of note coming up this weekend...

I'll be joining pianist Bruce Pethrick and bassist Brendan Rothwell at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club on Friday and Saturday evenings, backing up "Barbado's First Lady of Jazz", vocalist Cici Duke for two evenings of standards.



Working with good vocalists is one of my favorite things to do. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work so many great singers over the years including the likes of Pat Steele, Diane Nalini, Johanne Desforges, John Labelle, Johnny Scott, Carol Welsman, Karin Plato, Dione Taylor, Terra Hazelton and Louise Rose. Learning to accompany a vocalist is a real art form in itself and I enjoy the challenge of playing the drums in a way that compliments the voice and the lyric.

I'm also co-hosting the Broken City Jam session on Saturday afternoon from 3-6 pm with guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer and electric bassist extraordinaire Dale James. Be sure to come on out as the BC jam is now only happening the first Saturday of every month.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shadow Wilson



I recently had the pleasure of spending some time interviewing Kenny Washington for my ongoing doctoral research project. Kenny has an encyclopedic knowledge of Jazz music and it was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to sit down with this Master drummer.

The name Shadow Wilson came up several times during our discussion and Kenny was more than willing to talk, at length, about this great, unsung Jazz drummer. He pointed me towards this rare clip which features Wilson with the Louis Jordan band:



Now my own knowledge of Shadow Wilson's drumming had come from the Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane Carnegie Hall concert that was only discovered and released a few years ago.



Wilson was obviously a drummer who felt equally home playing in small, progressive groups such as with Monk and Coltrane and then also switching gears to play with the likes of Louis Jordan and the Count Basie Orchestra. In fact, Buddy Rich and many other big band drummers have openly declared on several occasions that Shadow's drum break on Basie's recording of "Queer Street" stands out as one of the greatest drum solo breaks ever recorded. You can check that out here (the brief double-time and syncopated drum break starts around 2:51):



Kenny Washington also recommended to me the following recordings to further check out examples of Shadow Wilson's fine and diverse drumming:

Count Basie - "America's #1 Band"
Thad Jones - "Detroit/New York Junction"
Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane - "At Carnegie Hall"
Fats Navarro/Tadd Dameron - "The Complete Blue Note & Capital Recordings"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sanford Moeller...Drumming From the Grave!



Perhaps a little early considering it's not Halloween yet...but here's a very interesting series of clips that Bill Stieger hipped me to (thanks Bill!)

This very clever rudimental drumming enthusiast took the still photo shots from Sanford Moeller's snare drumming method book "The Art of Snare Drumming" (1929) and spliced them together so we can see, for a brief time, what he intended his motions to look like:



Monday, September 26, 2011

Han Bennink Drum Lessons



More from my favorite swashbuckling dutch improvisor Han Bennink. I think someone gave these little "lessons" to me from notes they jotted down from a Han Bennink drum/music clinic (maybe from the Banff Jazz Workshop?):

Han Bennink's "Things to Practice":

"Play as fast as you can for 5 minutes without repeating yourself."

"Same thing goes for slow, loud, soft and any combination of them."

"Play one piece of your drumkit for 5 minutes and try to keep it interesting and do this until you have played all the pieces."

"Repeat the same beat for 5 minutes and try to keep it interesting."

"Play a crescendo lasting 5 minutes ending as loud as possible."

"Play solid time for 5 minutes, check with metronome before and after, repeat untill your time is really solid."

"Play completely free for 5 minutes, no time is allowed."

"When you think you have become good at these exercises extend them by 5 minutes each. etc".

These exercises should last you a lifetime...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Han (solo?)



Just a few more clips to follow up on my last post of Han Bennink, one of drumming's unique improvisors:





Saturday, September 24, 2011

Han Bennink Documentary



Thanks to Toronto guitarist Reg Schwager who recently posted this 1968 Dutch television documentary on drummer Han Bennink on Facebook. It's all in Dutch (!) but plenty to enjoy regardless:







Friday, September 23, 2011

Lewis Nash w/Jim Hall & Don Friedman



It's Friday here at Four on The Floor and also the first day of Fall so what better way to start the weekend than with some smokin' playing from Lewis Nash with band mates Don Friedman, Jim Hall, Joe Lovano and George Mraz from a Jazz Baltica concert from 2005:



Incidentally, I heard this group in 2000 at the Iridium in New York City without Friedman on the piano. That particular band can be heard on this fine record:



Honestly, when I first saw the lineup on the cover of this album I was expecting some fairly straight-ahead, standard-like playing but I was very pleasantly surprised and inspired to hear some very open and interactive playing instead. Jim Hall is a true visionary and his ability to push his sonic boundaries never ceases to amaze. All around it's a nice reminder that you truly can't judge a "book" by it's cover....Lewis Nash is truly a master who can cover it all ! In particular, check out Nash's solo intro in the above clip at the 20:16 mark - btw if anyone can tell me how to play my bass drum that fast, please let me know!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rifftide: The Life & Opinions of Papa Jo Jones



Looks like someone was finally smart enough to write a book about Papa Jo Jones. My copy is in the mail so I can't really tell you anything about it (!) but in the meantime we can enjoy this fine trailer about this important figure in Jazz drumming history:



And here's a few reminders as to why we should all listen to and study Jo Jones in the first place:





Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ali Jackson Quartet



A few today of J@LC drummer Ali Jackson Jr. from a recent hit of his, leading his own group at Dizzy's in New York City, featuring Donald Harrison:





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Max Roach - We Insist: Freedom Now Suite



John Riley recently pointed me towards this incredible footage the other day....ironically found in my very own collection of DVDs (but that's another story!) I first purchased this album while in my teens while searching for what ever Max Roach albums I could get my hands on during a trip to Chicago's legendary Jazz Record Mart. There is a very deep, powerful message in this music. Max is, of course, in fine form in this European television footage (dig those unison quarter notes!) and Abbey Lincoln and Clifford Jordan really shine as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Billy Drummond with Dave Liebman



A few all too short ones today...but here's drummer Billy Drummond on some raw clips taken from the bar (!) at New York's Birdland, performing with saxophonist Dave Liebman, pianist Steve Kuhn and Steve Swallow on bass:



Friday, September 16, 2011

The Regina Jazz Quartet + Vibes



If you happen to be in the Queen City today, I'll be appearing with the Regina Jazz Quartet (or also known as the RJQ !) on vibraphone this evening at the Regina Jazz Society. We'll be playing a fine selection of standards all night. Please come on by and say hello and enjoy the vibes.

"The RJQ + 1"

Appearing at The Regina Jazz Society
Le Bistro
3850 Hillsdale Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan

Friday, September 16th

8:00 pm

Featuring:

Jerry Shen - Tenor Saxohone
Ken Jefferson - Piano
Dylan Wiest - Drums
Tim Vuksic - Bass

with special guest Jon McCaslin - vibraphone

www.jazzregina.ca

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Andrew Cyrille - Solo Drums



Here's a drummer that we should definitely pay more attention to:



With special thanks to Jeff Cosgrove who found this one!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Minimal Farnsworth



It's always a good challenge to practice playing on a minimal and very basic drum set-up. Here Joe Farnsworth demonstrates how it's done with both sticks and brushes:



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Art Taylor Rides Again...



Just a quick one here for the weekend...my attention is soon to be very focused on today's upcoming Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers "Banjo Bowl" rematch.

In any event, here's some GREAT footage of Art Taylor with his frequent partner-in-crime Johnny Griffin:

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Calgary Scene - Andrew Dyrda



I first met drummer Andrew Dyrda six years when he took a few lessons with me in Calgary. He's now based in Montreal and has become quite a mature and hard working musician. I'm also impressed with his maturity on the instrument and a tireless work ethic. Andrew is one young Canadian drummer to keep an eye on in the years to come. Andrew recently played in Calgary and was gracious to answer several questions for my blog.

1) Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you learn to play Jazz drums?

I was very fortunate to be born into a musical family in Southwestern Ontario, constantly surrounded by good music (mostly Johnny Cash and Stan Rogers, but sometimes Beethoven and Art Blakey!!!). I started with the prerequisite piano lessons when I was about 4, maybe 5 years of age. Of course, at first I hated them (like most children do) but grew to like them more and more as time went on. I started playing trumpet when I was 11, and immediately felt a kinship with the instrument. I moved to Calgary and went to a high school with a GREAT band program (Dr. E.P. Scarlett) so I played in a bunch of wind ensembles, quartets, stage bands and jazz combos. After playing trumpet in stage band, I took an interest in the drums and haven't looked back since!!! Of course I was helped along the way by a few stellar drum teachers, including yourself!!


2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Oh man, this is such a large question. I try to keep my mind as open as possible to different music and different musicians, so I would say (cautiously) that all music that I've heard has had an influence on me! As far as playing the drums, I find everyone playing on records has something so completely different and awesome to love about them. I love the architecture and order of Max Roach, the cymbal playing and articulation of Philly Joe Jones and Kenny Clarke, the groove and sound of Art Blakey, the uniqueness of Roy Haynes, the spirit and emotion of Elvin Jones, the fire and talent of Tony Williams, the warmth of Billy Higgins, and the understated simmer of both Connie Kay and Vernel Fournier. As far as more modern cats go, I love to listen to everyone that's got something strong and individual going on, like Bill Stewart, Brian Blade, Chris "Daddy" Dave, Jeff Watts, Jim Black, Ari Hoenig, Dan Weiss, Lewis Nash, Kenny Washington, Marcus Gilmore, Justin Brown, Terri Lyne Carrington, ?uestlove, Matt Wilson, Eric Harland, Jeff Ballard and Jorge Rossy.... Just to name a few! Of course, a lot of the great drummers in Calgary and Montreal as well.


3) Name your top 5 favorite albums and how they have influenced you.

Milestones- Miles Davis with Philly Joe Jones on drums. This album can be considered, at least for me, perfection in the idiom of hard bop. Every note on the album is truly meant by all the players. Nothing comes off as being obtuse or cerebral- even though the music is at times incredibly complicated. The music always has two of the essential elements of jazz in it, bebop and the blues. The masterful playing of Philly Joe Jones is especially notable here, with the clarity of his ride stroke being extraordinarily well documented.

Larry Young- Unity with Elvin Jones on drums. This album is rife with a mix of compositions and standards, showcasing the playing of a very young Woody Shaw in the formative years of his improvising concept and compositional approach. It's great to hear Elvin Jones in this group, with his undulating ride cymbal/volleying the time all around the drumkit hooking up so hard with Larry Young's Hammond B3.

Miles Davis- My Funny Valentine/Four and More- Tony Williams on drums. This was my first exposure to the great Tony Williams, and from the first notes that he plays on the ride, I was a Tony fan and will be my whole life.
EnRoute- John Scofield with Bill Stewart on drums- Bill Stewart is the star here for me, providing an incredible palette of polyrhythmic colour to accompany Scofield and Steve Swallow. The first time I listened to this, I was shocked by how different Stewart's concept was, and I was also suprised that something could be so related to the jazz tradition but so fresh to my 17 year old ears.

Led Zeppelin 4- John Bohnam on drums- Amazing album that has stood the test of time. The groove on When The Levee Breaks is a must-learn for any drummer!!


4) What sort of things are you practicing or developing musically these days?

I'm really trying to develop clarity in my playing and expressing myself more musically and sparsely. Sometimes, I have difficulty expressing a clean melodic idea on the drums because I'm playing way too many notes, and trying so hard to fit my licks in from my transcriptions. Recently I've found much more success in trying to play melodies as close as I can to the song without embellishment. Ironically, after doing that for 10-15 minutes on standard while singing the melody, I can grow to some dense phrases that I actually mean, and the drum stuff that I want to play comes out without thinking. I'm also continuing to work on my ride cymbal, emulating drummers like Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones and Billy Higgins because that is one of the main elements of the rhythm of jazz that makes it feel so good and so unlike any other music. I'm also working on techniques to make my playing more relaxed vis a vis the Moeller system, and making my time feel good with just singles and doubles in the hands.


5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

I play and collaborate with a great rock/folk/indie artist named David Martel which is just so much fun and such a different learning experience for me. I have a trio with a couple friends of mine that's beginning to play more and more, which is great fun as well. Also, I play in a band of a friend of mine called Office Party which features a couple legendary Montreal music figures, Joe Sullivan and Andre White (who was just interviewed a few days back!) which is a constant source of fun and education for me. We did a recording recently with irrepressible bassist Adam Over which was a pure joy and will be ready soon to be released.


6) You've have been a very active student of the music over the course of the past few years and quite proactive in terms of seeking out great drummers to learn from whether, Montreal, Boston or New York. What can you tell us about some of the drummers you have taken lessons with and what did you learn from them?

This is kind of a heavy question for me. Of course, everyone I've had the privilege of studying with are amazing drummers and musicians that offered kindness and an absolute wealth of information for me to consume, but being proactive about this definitely had a down side as well. Being geographically located somewhat close to the New York area affords a certain advantage in that musicians often travel to Montreal to play (I've seen David Binney probably 8 or 9 times here) and we can go visit them to seek knowledge quite easily.

When I was seeking out these drummers to learn from, I was unfortunately seeking them out for the wrong questions. At the time, I was suffering from deficiencies in my playing that needed to be corrected (and could have been) without going to New York. So, just for example: Studying with someone like Ari Hoenig was so enlightening as far as his musical concept goes, but I should have had more discipline. Instead of learning to play a poor 5 over 7 polyrhythm, I should have been just working on being able to play quarter notes with the ride cymbal at 40 beats a minute in the right place! I was inundated with information that I wasn't ready for at that point.

There is a big difference between being informed about something, and KNOWING something so well it might as well be encoded directly onto one's DNA. The latter is what I think us young musicians should be concentrating on, not the former. It's much easier to learn 70% of a bunch of tasks than to learn 100% of one task... but when I think of all musicians I love (and they are all so different) they can all do the things they want to, to a point when they can improvise with these devices at any tempo, any which way.

With the widespread dissemination of information over the Internet, it grows harder and harder for young people raised in this society to truly concentrate on the essentials of learning to play this difficult music. That being said, the teachers that I studied with taught me an incredible amount. Especially studying with Chris McCann, who not only improved my music, but improved me and matured me as a human being. Being around an atmosphere in Montreal where there's incredible drummers playing such as Dave Laing, Andre White, Rich Irwin, Jim Doxas, Robbie Kuester, Martin Auguste and John Fraboni playing so well on any night of the week has been so helpful and fulfulling to me. I know that's not a great answer to the question but that's all I have!!


7) Favorite place to eat when back in Calgary?

CHARCUT Roast House, 899 Centre Street SW. Great Italian/French fusion style with a killing booze selection!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's Dewey Time



Today's post goes out to my good friend Matt Wilson. During my lessons with him in 2004, Matt talked extensively about his time playing and learning from tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman. Wilson's respect and affinity for Redman was quite evident and I personally learned a lot from Matt recalling his experiences.

Here's an excerpt from an informative documentary about Dewey Redman and his music:



And you can view this documentary in it's entirety here:

http://www.eztakes.com/store/watch/Dewey-Time-The-Sound-of-a-Giant-Watch-Movie.jsp

This is also a nice reminder that it's time for me to revisit the recordings that Dewey did with Keith Jarrett's American Quartet (and on related note - it's time to revisit Jarrett's other European Quartet recordings as well for that matter!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Roy Haynes Quintet - Rome 1976



A nice find if I may say so myself! Here's a couple of drummer Roy Haynes leading a band in Rome circa. 1976:





John Riley also recently hipped me to this CD & DVD box set which I look forward to checking out:



http://www.amazon.com/Life-Time-Haynes-Story-Bonus/dp/B000VBIEGA

As always, when it's Haynes...it roars !

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle



Thanks for your continued support and nice words about my blog everyone. I've received a lot of nice messages from people around the world recently and really appreciate your consideration and attention.

Here's a collection of a few random things that caught my interest lately:

- Calgary's longest jam session that had been running every Saturday afternoon at Broken City since 2005 has now been scaled back to only the first Saturday of every month. This is very unfortunate as it was a great jam but what can you expect if musicians stop coming out to sit in and the audience starts to dwindle? Seems like attendance has really dropped off in the last six months. Jam sessions are a very important part of jazz community so I think it's too bad that this is the direction things have gone.

However, I stopped by the session yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see a decent crowd of both musicians and enthusiasts alike. Host drummer Jon May was in fine form and played with a really great creative sound and feel. He and bassist Simon Fisk have a great hook up and play great together. So hopefully this bodes well and the trend continues and we can expect at least a continued monthly jam at Broken City in the months to come.

- Montreal drummer/pianist Andre White has recently started his own blog:

http://zoltanzylox.blogspot.com/


Check out Andre's insightful commentary on music that he is listening to these days.

- Thank you to Pete Zimmer who sent me this Art Blakey radio interview via the Facebook:

http://www.powerhouseradio.com/archive/art-blakey.html


Here's some footage of drummers that I've really been digging lately:

- A couple quick ones here of drummer Willie Jones III playing with Cedar Walton's band:





- I'm really digging these ones of Jeff Ballard with his trio (I hope these guys record!) featuring Miguel Zenon and Jeff playing a very interesting percussion-hybrid drum set:





- This one has been making the rounds on the Facebook and creating a lot of interesting commentrary. Here's Jack DeJohnette demonstrating his single stroke roll:



Thanks to Bill Stieger who hipped me to that.

Sheesh....time to go practice after seeing that one !

- More great footage of Elvin Jones with his trio featuring Jimmy Garrison and Joe Farrell on "Gingerbread Boy":



- And finally here's an insightful clip of Marvin "Bugalu" Smith:



For those who don't know about Marvin and his drumming....the man is a force. He has quite a number of videos on youtube that demonstrate his deep playing and philosophy of playing Jazz drums. I'll be featuring more commentary about Bugalu and his drumming in a later post (hopefully interviews with both him and some of his students)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ralph Peterson on Bosphorus Oracle Cymbals



It's nice to see many of the cymbal companies out there producing videos of great drummers demonstrating their products. Here's Ralph Peterson Jr. demonstrating his new Oracle cymbals courtesy of the Bosphorus cymbal company:



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gary Burton with Igor Butman & Richard Galliano



I've been practicing a lot of vibraphone these days so here's one of the masters of the vibes in action to enjoy. Here is Gary Burton with Russian tenor saxophonist Igor Butman and Richard Galliano on accordion on a nice rendition of "Autumn Leaves":