Monday, October 31, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - Halloween Edition



Happy Halloween everyone!
Things have really been on the go lately.
Much to report...

-Thanks to everyone who came out to hear bassist Rubim DeToledo's octet project last Thursday and Friday nights at the Cantos Music Foundation. Both evenings featured Rubim's original compositions, arrangements of some great standards and some Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music which also featured accompaniment by some very talented dancers and visual projection artists. Rubim worked really hard to put together this complicated and multi-faceted project and he is a very accomplished composer (I've also been fortunate to have worked with him in a variety of group's including last springs Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production of "Wilds"). He sure kept us on our toes with his tunes, in particular the opener "Maidens" which, for the most part, featured a groove that, as best I could tell (!) featured a challenging yet melodic groove in 27/8 (!) Fortunately we convinced Rubim to let us play the solo section in a comfortable 6/8 instead : )

-I made my way down to the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club on Saturday evening to hear Vancouver saxophonist and club owner Cory Weeds joined by Oliver Gannon on guitar, fellow Canadian Jazz drummer and blogger Jesse Cahill on drums and their special guest from New York City, Mike LeDonne on B3 Hammond organ. The band played music by the great Hank Mobley and swung mightily and seriously from the first note. I really dug the fact that aside from the technical mastery that all these fine musicians demonstrated, they were not afraid to SWING and really dig into the groove. Fortunately these guys recorded their shows in Edmonton at the Yardbird Suite so I'm looking forward to hearing the results of that release on the CellarLive record label once it comes out in the coming months.

Mike LeDonne has always been a favorite musician of mine and I always make a point to catch him at Smoke whenever I'm in New York. His groove and overall creative mastery of the Jazz language is always a joy to listen to.

Here's a few nice ones of LeDonne backing up Milt Jackson with the legendary Mickey Roker on drums:







His piano trio album "Common Ground" with Kenny Washington on drums and Dennis Irwin on bass has been making the rounds on my car's CD player for quite some time now and is highly recommended (in particular dig KWash's impeccable brush work!)



- Here's a couple fun clips of Winard Harper to check out. Winard is a great drummer and someone who I've long admired but perhaps we don't hear about enough these days.





- I apologize for not posting more drum lessons on a more regular or frequent basis but I promise to try and get more on the ball in that regards. When guys like Ted Warren are posting such amazing lessons over at his blog Trap'd it's hard to keep up with that ! I really appreciate the kind words and requests for more lesson posts though. I'm really glad that so many people have found my "Elvin Jones" exercises and such so useful (in fact, Joe LaBarbera suggested to me that some of them lie very well on the brushes....so I would take his advice and do that!)

- If you are in Calgary this week don't forget to check out The Invertigo Trio with myself on drums, Jim Brenan on tenor saxophone and Rubim DeToledo on bass (see the post below for details)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Invertigo Trio



Here's an upcoming show that I'm quite excited about this week. Jim Brenan, Rubim de Toldeo and myself have been playing together as a trio for a couple years now and we are looking forward to recording together in the next while. It's a really fun band and we're trying to incorporate many different approaches and types of tunes within the saxophone trio format.

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The Cliff Bungalow-Mission Jazz Series Presents:

THE INVERTIGO TRIO

FEATURING:

JIM BRENAN – TENOR SAXOPHONE

RUBIM DeTOLEDO – BASS

JON McCASLIN – DRUMS


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd 2011   8:00pm
 
THE CLIFF BUNGALOW MISSION COMMUNITY CENTRE
 
2201 CLIFF STREET SW
 
$15

INFO: 403.650.7695        www.cliffbungalowmission.com

The Invertigo Trio is the latest collaboration between Calgary jazz artists Jim Brenan on tenor saxophone, Rubim DeToledo on bass and Jon McCaslin on drums. Evoking the sounds of the classic jazz saxophone trios of the 1960s and beyond, these accomplished artists have come together to present an evening of introspective and hard swinging music inspired by such artists as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. The groups repertoire will focus on jazz standards and contemporary compositions drawn from the classic jazz era as well as pieces written and arranged specifically for this trio.

ABOUT THE CLIFF BUNGALOW-MISSION JAZZ SERIES:
                     
After an exciting start the CBM Jazz concert series is now in its third season. Organized by local jazz enthusiast, saxophonist and composer Jan Mulder, the monthly series of concerts features some of Calgary's best jazz musicians and ensembles and provides an ideal opportunity to spend a relaxing evening. The concerts are conducted in the quiet listening and family friendly environment of the Cliff Bungalow-Mission community hall and take place on the first Wednesday of every month. Each 2 hour performance starts at 8 pm so everybody can get a good night sleep and be rested the next morning. Coffee, tea, and beverages are served. There is a $15 cover fee for each event. Tickets are sold at the door. Call 403-650-7695 for more info.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Up Close with Greg Hutchinson



Sit back and enjoy a drum lesson with Greg Hutchinson on the drums:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ali Jackson Jr. Solos



Another clip to follow up my previous post of Ali's trio from a recent performance at Dizzy's in NYC. Here's Ali Jackson Jr. unleashing on the composition "Flow", a piece based on John Coltrane's tune "Giant Steps":

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Bill Stewart with John Scofield

Some great footage here of Bill Stewart with his longtime musical companion John Scofield on guitar:





Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Allison Miller Plays Odd Meters



A quick one today of drummer Allison Miller demonstrating how to play in 13/8 from a recent clinic appearance:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Interview with Jesse Cahill



Today's post features an interview with my fellow Canadian Jazz drummer and blogger Jesse Cahill. Jesse is currently doing great things out in Vancouver, teaching at Vancouver Island University and is touring at the moment with a Hank Mobley tribute project featuring Cory Weeds on tenor saxophone, Oliver Gannon on guitar and NYC organist Mike LeDonne. I'm really looking forward to their show at the Beatniq on Saturday evening and I thought it would be nice to ask Jesse a few questions in advance of their performance.

I've known Jesse since 1995 when I first started my undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal. Jesse and I split the drum chair in one of the big bands for a couple of years and also shared a practice space for awhile. Even back then Jesse was an absolute monster on the drums and I always really admired his tremendous sense of swing and understanding of the tradition of Jazz drumming (he has checked out ALOT of recordings over the years). And of course Jesse's brush technique was always something to behold.

Jesse was nice enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions here at Four on The Floor:


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

Both of my parents played music when I was a kid so there was always something on the record player or banjos and guitars being played. Mostly growing up I listened to R&B and rock n roll: Chuck Berry, early Stones, the Coasters, Paul Butterfield and blue grass too as that's what my dad played. I got a snare drum when I was 12 and borrowed a drum set from my high school the following year. I found jazz music almost right away mostly from listening to the CBC and going to see concerts in Victoria. My Aunt took me to see Wynton's Majesty of the Blues tour and that was pretty much it.

I learned (and am still learning!) to play jazz by listening to records and trying to copy what I heard. It sounds cliche but that's really what I did. I met a few older musicians and they told me that's what they did so I just started going to the public library and taking out as many records as I could: MJQ, Miles Davis, Cannonball, Bud Powell, Larry Young, Dexter Gordon etc. At some point I got it in my head that I was good enough to go to the local jam session. I probably sucked but I got to sit in for a tune or two every week. A few guys I took lessons with in town let me come down to there gigs and sit in after I bugged them enough. I must have been a total pain in the ass!

When I was 18 I got to take some lessons with Keith Copeland and that really changed everything. He showed me how to practice jazz drums and gave me a great list of recordings to check out. That was huge! Then I went to Montreal to go to McGill and that's a whole other story. I loved it in Montreal and had many great teachers and friends to make music with.


2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Like most musicians I probably have more influences than I can actually list but I love jazz music! Soul music too. Music is a visceral thing for me so I've always been drawn to the greasier side of things. I love the sound of the Jazz Messengers, especially the live records, that energy is very inspiring. Or a musician like Bud Powell who put so much of himself into every note. I'm a huge fan of southern soul, anything on Stax records. That Memphis sound is amazing.


3) Who are some of your favorite drummers and why?

This changes constantly so here's two lists:

All time: Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones

Today: Ben Dixon, Billy James, Lex Humphries, Mel Lewis, Billy Higgins


4) Name your top 5 favorite albums (or more!) and how they have influenced you:

Again this changes all the time, there's so many great records and I've been influenced by a lot of different things so in no particular order here's five of my favourite records:

Art Blakey Quintet: "A Night at Birdland" - These sides, to me, are the essence of jazz music. It's swinging, has endless energy and the band plays with reckless abandon from start to finish.

Barry Harris: "At the Jazz Workshop" - Cookin! This is as close to perfect as I think it could get.

John Coltrane: "Live at the Village Vangaurd" - I love Elvin's brush playing on Softly and would say that Spiritual has been a blue print for me for playing in 3/4.

Larry Young: "Unity" (and all of the other Blue Note dates he did with Elvin) - This was the first organ record I ever owned.

Dexter Gordon: "Go" - The first Higgins record I ever heard. This was how I always wanted to play. I'm still trying….


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

Lately I've been spending a lot of time on trying to be a better ensemble player, do a better job playing arrangements and what not. I spend a fair bit of time every day playing snare drum, playing rudiments and such, playing some brushes, playing some time with the metronome and playing along to a recording or two. I like to work on tempos, in particular the ones I don't get to play very much (warp speed and slow ballads are the worst if you aren't doing it all the time). I also like to learn new feels. Lately I've been trying to get a good boogaloo together.


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

I'm on the road with The Cory Weeds/Mike LeDonne quartet at the moment. I have my organ band in it's two forms, big band and quintet. I'm playing with Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander in a few weeks and Cory Weeds' Quartet CD launch. So I guess right now it's mostly spang-shang-a-lang just the way I like.


6) How has writing your blog changed your approach to teaching and or/playing the drums?

It's forced me to put my own shit under the microscope a lot more than I have in the past (I've watched way more video of myself than ever before). And then of course there's trying to write in complete sentences.


7) Favorite place to eat? (while at home or on the road?)

My favourite place to eat at home is in my house! On the road I just try to keep a good 3 to 1 healthy to greasy meal ratio.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ali Jackson Jr. Trio



Jazz at Lincoln Center/Wynton Marsalis drummer Ali Jackson Jr. just finished a week-long stint at Dizzy's in NYC with his trio featuring Omer Avital on bass and Aaron Goldberg on piano. Ali is always an exciting drummer to watch and listen to.

Here's someone's iPhone or camera footage to give you a sample (although I hope this trio records an album soon!):



Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Calgary Scene - Michelle Grégoire



The Calgary Scene column is back and today we feature pianist and composer Michelle Grégoire who has just recently moved to Calgary from Winnipeg.

Grégoire's music appears regularly on XM Radio and Galaxie satellite jazz programs and made several top ten lists on programs all over North America. She has toured across Canada with her quintet and was recently featured at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the Ottawa Jazz Festival, the Prairie Scene Festival, the Port Hope All-Canadian Jazz Festival and more. An active freelance musician since 1984, Michelle Grégoire maintains a solid reputation as a sideperson and band leader having appeared with visiting artists to Winnipeg such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Peter Appleyard, and the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation. In June 2009, Grégoire's quintet opened for the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the Jazz Winnipeg Festival and in June 2010 the group was recorded by CBC Radio's Concerts on Demand. Grégoire has been a guest performer and composer with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has worked regularly with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra since its inception in 1997. Grégoire holds two jazz degrees from St. Francis Xavier University (1988, 1990), a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the Florida State University (1993). She has attended the Hugh Fraser Jazz Orchestra Residency in Banff where she worked with Maria Schneider in 2002 and Kenny Wheeler in 2004. Grégoire has also studied privately with world-renowned composer Bob Brookmeyer.


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

I started playing music at a very young age (4 or 5 years old) and because I learned through the Yamaha Music program  I was exposed to improvisation early on. I remember learning chords and improvising on a blues when I was 7 or 8 years old. We learned all kinds of popular songs and jazz tunes. I think I played Night Train for a competition once. I became more serious about jazz as a young adult. I thought it was an important part of developing as a professional musician and I wanted to learn to arrange and compose more seriously. I was actively performing with many groups and started out mainly exploring fusion and funk. Eventually it all led to studies in jazz at the university level at St Francis Xavier University in 1986.


2) Who are your musical influences and why?
 
I always find this type of question difficult to answer. Man...music has been in my life since day one...but some of my strongest influences might have been the musicians I work with on a regular basis, or peers. I have always been lucky in that I get to play with a lot of different people who inspire me to keep growing. That's how I learned music after all, in a group lesson playing along with a really good player/teacher and other kids. The teachers I have had in the past have had a strong influence on me and some of these were the greats I used to listen to on record when I was developing myself as a composer during my university years: people like Kenny Wheeler or Bob Brookmeyer. And some of my best teachers were names nobody has ever heard of but they influenced me both as an artist and as a person. I am inspired by the music if the person is somebody I have respect for and vice versa. Music is just a reflection of the person.


3) Name your top 5 favorite albums and how they have influenced you.
 
Wow again tough to answer. I hope I never narrow it down to just five. But off the top of my head:
 
"Night Train" by Oscar Peterson - love of swing, groove, blues, technique, tone, everything. One of my first favorite records, and it may be the one that made me really love jazz.
 
Any Gordon Lightfoot record - what? Yes, mom had all his records and I probably heard them day in and day out from the womb up till age 6 or so. I am sure he's why I have melody seriously ingrained in every cell. Even my most complicated melodies can be sung. Thanks Gordon.
 
"Standards Vol. 1" by the Keith Jarrett Trio - inspired playing, interaction, melody, space, uncomplicated.
 
Mel Lewis Orchestra playing the music of Bob Brookmeyer - there are a couple of significant recordings breaking all the limitations of form and development in jazz orchestra writing. LOVE it. It inspired me to go much much further, to look for what I could do with the music.
 
"Deer Wan" by Kenny Wheeler - I listened to it every night for almost two years. Phrasing, tone, compositional strength, melody, group interaction, breaking boundaries...wow. so much to say. It made me want to be a contributor in every way, not just a player who could play something. It opened up my ears to new harmonic ideas and so much more.


4) What sort of things are you practicing or developing musically these days?
 
I still spend most of my "work" time writing or transcribing or collecting and developing ideas. I am finishing a commission for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra which will be played in February or March 2012.
 
I also have really taken to the idea of returning to the organ. I did a session on the B3 with Ralf Bushmeyer and John Riley recently. Organ is actually my first instrument, so it's great to get back into it. I have a lot more work to do yet to keep the chops up and "expand" my brain to more comfortably play solos while walking and what not. It's a fun new diversion.

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

I just started a trio project (Ascend 3 Trio) with a couple of my favorite players in town, Tyler Hornby on drums and Rubim De Toledo on bass. Tyler approached me about it last summer and I jumped on the idea. I have been wanting to record a piano trio record so I am pretty stoked to do this with these guys. We're all collaborating and contributing to the material. It's a fantastic new project and I can't wait to do more with that.
 
I am also wanting to record another quintet record - so many great tunes to document and I just love that format. I've enjoyed playing my tunes recently with some Calgary based players mixed in with either some of the Toronto guys who played on the record, or Winnipeg based players I enjoyed working with. It's been great fun and I'd love to document some of the recent tunes and take the music as far as I can take it both musically and geographically!
 
Also, I am always writing something for big band or playing in one, I really should record an album one of these days. And I certainly plan to expand my writing into more of the chamber orchestra type stuff, or full on orchestra....some type of jazz-orchestrated-large ensemble extravaganza.
 
And last year I wrote a bunch of stuff for voices and that's still a main interest. Yikes...I have lots of things I want to explore....and that's why I am still doing it!


6) As a composer you’ve written an extensive amount of original works and compositions for your own groups and others. What can you tell us about your philosophy and approach as a Jazz composer?
 
I definitely still love melody, space, time, great feel. I still want the music to be music because I still love music! So my approach is that it HAS to be musical no matter how crazy it all gets. Form and direction are very important. Where is it all going? I want to work with something inspired...I'll wait forever for the right melody of tid bit to work with. I want things to say something. Even the most outside or loose stuff has to come together for me somehow. 
 
Also I really believe in the idea of doing pre-compositional work. In college it was easy, teachers fed me a bunch of new concepts and I ran with that and wrote a bunch of new music. But now it's on me to create and collect new ideas. So I feel that in order to be satisfied with any new tune or composition, I have to put some time into that aspect of things. It takes more ongoing effort, but I really just want to expand myself and write something truly new for me.


7) You’ve only recently moved to Calgary after spending many years active in the Winnipeg music community.
What prompted your move to Calgary?
 
The change is very good. I am thrilled to meet new players, be in a bigger town, do new things. I came here because I knew I would be able to work, grow, pay the bills and keep doing my thing. The bonus is the strong jazz scene - great players, good people. I know I will thrive here, and I hope I can give back as much as I am getting here. I certainly do love it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Preservation Hall Jazz Band



On Monday night I had the opportunity to hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans perform at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary, AB. It was an impressive and joyful evening of traditional New Orleans Jazz music that brought to mind the legacies of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and other early Jazz music from the Crescent City.

The band featured the following superb musicians (no sousaphone that night though! oh well...)

• Mark Braud - trumpet
• Charlie Gabriel - clarinet
• Freddie Lonzo - trombone
• Rickie Monie - piano
• Clint Maedgen - tenor saxophone & vocals
• "Little" Joe Lastie, Jr. - drums

It was a great evening all around and featured early American Jazz music played with the authentic sound and feel. You can tell that these musicians have grown up with this music and they play it with a sincerity and real knowledge, appreciation and deep amount of respect for the tradition.

Two real things really stood out for me after hearing them play. I was reminded that:

1) Jazz is fundamentally a folk music...

2) The happy and joyful spirit that these guys play with was a nice reminder that it's okay to have fun while playing Jazz music. Personally, maybe I need to try and smile a bit more myself when I play (*see Billy Higgins!)

For me, the highlight was easily the trumpet playing of Mark Braud. His playing was outstanding and he really nailed it as far as I was concerned.

"Little" Joe Lastie's drumming provided the perfect buoyant support for the band. It was firmly rooted in the style of such early Jazz drummer pioneers such as Warren "Baby" Dodds and Zutty Singleton. I was very impressed and got a real lesson in Second Line drumming and early Jazz drumming styles that rely heavily on using buzz/press roll vocabulary, playing time on the snare drum (or as Baby Dodds referred to it as "digging coal" on his LP "Talking & Drum Solos". Carl Allen gave me a copy of this years ago and it is a must have resource for anyone interested in early forms of Jazz drumming.)

Here's a taste of what the Preservation Hall Jazz band is up to these days:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jeff Ballard's Trap Kit



Dig this unique contraption from Jeff Ballard:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eric Harland with McCoy Tyner & Bobby Hutcherson



Let's start off the week with a fine rendition of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" featuring Eric Harland on drums with McCoy Tyner and my hero Bobby Hutcherson at the vibraphone:





Here's also a few trailers from Eric's new instructional DVD soon to be released from jazzheaven.com:



















Make sure to buy this fantastic DVD and others soon to be available from jazzheaven.com. I know this sounds like a commercial (!) but I've been quite impressed from the quality I've seen so far. The Ralph Peterson Jr. clips that are circulating are really good and I was also fortunate to get an advance copy of Ari Hoenig's "Melodic Drumming" DVD earlier this year. There is some serious information in these volumes that no one else has had the foresight to present as of yet, so let's support this great initiative.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jazz Docs



I'm taking a break for the weekend. However, in the meantime, here's a few GREAT Jazz documentaries to keep you occupied:









There is something to be said about great documentaries filmed about Jazz musicians and capturing their music and personalities on film. These ones, in particular, are good examples and will hopefully stand the test of time.

In recent times Ken Burns PBS series JAZZ is probably the most significant Jazz doc of our time. It's very good, however I feel that it skipped over certain musicians and didn't devote quite enough attention to certain important aspects of the music that really deserved it. Maybe it was just about 10 episodes too short? But I think it's still worth watching and there is much to be learned, even if it doesn't necessarily tell the entire story.

Having said that, the best recent Jazz documentary that I've come across is Icons Among Us: Jazz In The Present Tense I've blogged about this one before and I think it's an excellent cinematic effort that attempts to show all that is good and currently happening in Jazz music today. Make sure to check it out.

Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense from John Comerford on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Max Roach and Abdullah Ibrahim



Some of my favorite Max Roach duet recordings feature him with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Mal Waldron, Archie Shepp and Anthony Braxton. As you can probably tell, Max is my favorite drummer and I'm always excited to discover something of his that I've never seen before!

Here's a recent find of Max Roach in a musical dialogue with none other than pianist Abdullah Ibrahim:











I've always admired Max's way of really making the drums "speak". In fact, I've even heard him refer to his melodic style of drumming as being "lyrical" drumming. Max studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music early on in his career and I think he really approaches the drums from an almost compositional perspective. The way he organizes his vocabulary and phrases is always very clear and there is always lots to learn from listening and watching Max play the drums.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bill Stewart with John Scofield and Mulgrew Miller



An impressive lineup here featuring Bill Stewart on the drums with John Scofield on guitar, Mulgrew Miller at the piano and Scott Colley on the bass:











Dig the close ups of Bill's impressive cymbals and technique!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Art Blakey



Happy birthday to Art Blakey who would have been 92 years old today!

Gigs This Week...



A few fun gigs on the go this week to tell you about:

The Keith O'Rourke Quintet Plays the Music of Tom Harrell

Friday, October 14th
Saturday, October 15th

The Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
211 - 1st Street SW
Calgary, Alberta

Featuring:

Keith O'Rourke - Tenor Saxophone
Johnny Summers - Trumpet
Michelle Gregoire - Piano
Kodi Hutchinson - Bass
Jon McCaslin - Drums

We'll be playing two nights of music from the pen of composer/trumpet player Tom Harrell. This is really fun music to play but definitely very difficult music and a real challenge!



The Jon McCaslin Trio

Thursday, October 13th

5-7pm

The Sandstone Lounge
The Hyatt Regency
"All That Jazz" Music Series sponsored by the Cantos Music Foundation
700 Centre Street SE
Calgary, Alberta

Featuring:

Jon McCaslin - Drums
Ralf Buschmeyer - Guitar
Dale James - Bass

This is a new project that I'm really quite excited about. Ralf is one of Western Canada's premier guitarists and Dale James is a force! I'm looking forward to this hit and taking the music some interesting directions with these guys.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle



I'm happy to be spending Thanksgiving in Montreal this year (that's Canadian Thanksgiving, eh?) and it's been great catching up and playing with old friends in my old town after a brief stopover in Toronto last week. I spent the better part of ten years studying and working in Montreal and I owe a lot to the musicians in this town in terms of my own personal musical development and personal journey.

- My wife and I hit the Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill on Saturday evening to hear trumpeter Kevin Dean and his fine quintet consisting of Janis Steprans on tenor saxophone, Andre White on piano, Alec Walkington on bass and Dave Laing on drums. The band sounded great, as always, on a program of Kevin's brand new compositions that, while impressively steeped in the hard bop tradition of Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Barry Harris, Blue Mitchell and Horace Silver, featured everyone very nicely on hard swinging and very cleverly written compositions and arrangements.

- Kevin has a real talent for writing interesting and well thought out melodic compositions that are equally fun to play as they are to listen to. I was lucky to study Jazz composition with Kevin during my McGill days and he always stressed the importance of integrating the arrangement within the composition and this is something that he does very well. I've tried to incorporate that concept in writing my own compositions and I feel that this always provides for memorable compositions and it's a very useful overall composing technique.

- Drummer Dave Laing is one of the nations best on drums. I was fortunate to study with Dave during my undergrad years at McGill and also had the opportunity to watch him in action on a regular basis with many of Montreal's top Jazz artists back in the day. Listening to Dave's hard swinging and driving cymbal beat and hearing his exceptionally clear phrasing on the drums is always inspiring, refreshing and a nice incentive to hit the woodshed once I get home! I also sat in a rehearsal with Joe Sullivan's big band and witnessing Dave's thundering and driving beat reminded me of why his playing has always been one of my favorites.

Here's a little sample of "Scooter" in action:



- Pianist & drummer Andre White has recently resurrected in his long-time website "Jazz View" that features interviews with many of Canada's leading Jazz artists. Dig that here: http://andrewhite.ca/jazzview/newoverview.html
Look for an upcoming interview with Jerry Fuller from Andre's archives. Jerry was certainly one of Canada's influential Jazz drummers during his time.

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A few things to take note of these days that caught my interest lately:

- Drummer/author/educator Steve Fidyk has an upcoming article in the November issue of Modern Drummer magazine where he discusses some different approaches to dealing with playing the ride cymbal from the perspective of holding the stick using some different fulcrum points. Here's the video portion of this article:

http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2011/09/ride-cymbal-phrasing-how-grip-and-fulcrum-impact-your-sound/#.TpIUCq6KzAg

- Ethan Iverson, pianist with the Bad Plus and blogger over at DO THE MATH, interviews legendary swinger Mickey Roker over here:

http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/interview-with-mickey-roker.html

My fellow Canadian Jazz drummer/bloggers have been busy over at their respective blogs:

- Vancouver-based Jesse Cahill has some great lessons dealing with variations on a common three-note phrase between the hands and feet over here:

http://jessecahill.wordpress.com/

- Ted Warren over at his blog Trap'd has more interesting brush lessons plus an inspiring article about what it really means to play the music at hand with focus, purpose and integrity:

http://trapdted.blogspot.com/

- Ralph Peterson Jr. has a new instructional DVD in the works. I'm really looking forward to checking this out in it's entirety. In the meantime, several excerpts of this video have been posted at drummerworld.com

Check those out here:
http://drummerworld.com/drummers/Ralph_Peterson.html

- Likwise, drummer Eric Harland has a DVD of his own coming out as well and a few previews of those can be checked out here as well:
http://drummerworld.com/drummers/Eric_Harland.html

Dig the "blues" in particular! Wow...

- Speaking of Eric Harland, here he is in a unique duet with trumpeter Avishai Cohen in some ruins:



- Here's some nice up close footage of drummer Billy Hart taking his turn during a performance with "The Cookers":



Just don't take his picture up close with the flash on while he's playing!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Modern Jazz Quartet - Rome 1961



Milt Jackson never ceases to amaze and impress me...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ed Soph Masterclass



An impressive masterclass and information from University of North Texas drum set instructor Ed Soph:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Terri Lyne Carrington



Sorry for the lack of posting lately. Been on the road between Toronto and Montreal lately and last weekend was quite busy between gigging with "Barbados First Lady of Jazz", Cici Duke and hosting the Broken City Jazz Jam with Ralf Buschmeyer and Dale James (ummm...why didn't ANY drummers show up to sit in and play??? Thank you to the two very talented young bassists and trombone player who did, however, come to play.)

Anyways...

Some pretty amazing footage here of a very young and talented Terri Lyne Carrington in action from a late 70s children's television series:



Also nice to see her mentors Keith Copeland and Clark Terry also featured in that one.

As you can see, Terri is still playing great today (!) Here she is in a tribute to Roy Haynes:



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jerry Granelli - In The Moment



Today's post features a documentary on the life and music of drummer Jerry Granelli, directed by Colin Mackenzie:













Jerry and his fine trio with Danny Ore on saxophone and Calgary bassist Simon Fisk will soon be touring Canada during the month of October with performances across the country. Look for an exclusive Four on The Floor interview with Granelli leading up to his Calgary performance in the weeks to come.