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:

http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/liberation-chorus.html

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"  
http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/liberation-chorus.html

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 the footage of Max Roach and his quartet from the Newport Jazz Festival circa. 1992 that I mentioned in a blog post a few months ago:

















I managed to record this on a VHS cassette tape while I happened across it on television years ago. I must have watched this footage, literally, hundreds of times. It's nice to see this concert now, years later, in its entirety. This sure brings back memories...



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

http://www.democracynow.org/2007/8/27/max_is_the_highest_the_outtest


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) 

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Lesson with Elvin - Parts One & Two (Redux)















Here's the two articles I contributed to Canadian Musician Magazine earlier this year (this time in better resolution!) These articles are both based on some concepts I learned from a drum clinic that Elvin Jones gave in Montreal in 1999.

Enjoy!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Oscar Peterson & Louie Bellson "Cute"

















Thanks to our Italian correspondent Fabio Baglioni, here's a great one of the ever musical Louis Bellson featured with the Oscar Peterson trio on Neal Hefti's "Cute" taken at a brisk tempo:



I think Bellson's explanation of his use of the Roto-toms was pretty cool! Nobody else can pull that off...

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle















Hello everybody and I hope everything is super groovy in your part of the world these days. Things are busy over here in my neck of the woods with Canada's Jazz festival season kicking into high gear. But as usual here's a smattering of different things to check out:


- In honour of Father's Day, here's a nice piece from NPR's A Blog Supreme on some famous drummers and their drumming fathers:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2014/06/14/321791688/rhythm-runs-in-the-family-drummers-on-their-dads


- New Orleans drummer Geoff Clapp recently contributed a GREAT article on the nuances of playing the ride cymbal over at Drum Magazine:

http://www.drummagazine.com/features/post/drummers-conundrum-great-cymbal-sound/


- I really dug this article by Branford Marsalis over at Downbeat magazine recently:

http://www.marsalismusic.com/news/melodic-study-deep-listening-and-importance-context-downbeat-master-class-branford-marsalis


- George Colligan contributed a great blog post about Time and on playing with a metronome over at his blog Jazz Truth:

http://jazztruth.blogspot.ca/2014/05/in-search-of-rhythmic-humanity.html


- I heard through the grapevine that Vancouver tenor saxophonist Steve Kaldestad requires his ear training class at Capilano University to transcribe Jorge Rossy's drumming on "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" from Brad Mehldau's "Art of the Trio Vol.1". As you can see below, there is a lot of great information to learn from this one:

http://thatdrumblog.blogspot.ca/2014/06/transcription-jorge-rossy-i-didnt-know.html


- Here's some great insight on Ahmad Jamal and the drumming of Vernell Fournier from Kenny Washington:

http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.ca/2010/08/ahmad-jamal-on-mosaic-records.html?m=1

And then of course that led me to dig up this one courtesy of Ted Panken:

http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/vernell-fournier-on-ahmad-jamal-wkcr-1990/


- My friend Phil Dwyer is now consulting on this CBC on-line Jazz stream. Check out some serious Canadian Jazz talent!

http://music.cbc.ca/#/genres/Jazz/blogs/2014/6/Listen-to-Phil-Dwyers-Jazz-Canada-stream


- A very insightful interview with the multi-talented drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis:

http://artsmania.ca/2014/04/30/interview-with-jason-marsalis/


- And speaking of New Orleans drummers, here's two of the greats featuring Shannon Powell and Herlin Riley:

http://jazzinspired.com/2011/12/09/shannon-powellherlin-riley/

And then Shannon Powell with Johnny Vidacovich:




- Some nice solo drumming (as always) and interview from Billy Martin:

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/hour-billy-martin/





- I'm really hoping that Brian Blade records with his recent trio project featuring Danilo Perez and John Patitucci (they are touring as "The Children of The Light" this summer). In the meantime check out this  very musical drum solo:




- Special thanks to Sir Dale James for sharing this one of percussionist and rhythm guru Efrain Toro with Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna:




- What am I listening to these days?

Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis & Arnett Cobb "Very Saxy" - Arthur Edgehill (drums)

Amiri Baraka "New Music, New Poetry" - Steve McCall (drums)

Gerry Hemingway "Kernelings" - Gerry Hemingway (drums and percussion)

Buster Williams "Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1999" - Carl Allen (drums)

Miles Davis & Sonny Stitt "Live in Stockholm 1960" - Jimmy Cobb (drums)

Teddy Edwards Sextet "Jazz Scene USA" - Doug Sides (drums)


- Dig this crazy footage of Buddy Rich playing "Mercy Mercy Mercy" circa. 1975:



I love the gogo dancers and what's up with that left hand of his???
Man....I really don't think he was human!


- Speaking of Buddy Rich....this is just hilarious (But I dig it. It still sounds like Buddy Rich!):





- And the last word today goes to this gentleman:



Thank you for all your great music Mr. Silver...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Denny' s Combos























I've been messing around with this snare drum exercise lately and thought I would share it with you all today.

This exercise, known as "Denny's Combos", was written by Tom Float and taught to me by Jody Mario and Chris Worthington (who both played snare with the Blue Devils) during my drumline days back in the early 1990s. I guess Tom really dug his bacon and eggs...

It's a great exercise because it emphasizes transitions between a progression of several different rudiments, something every rudimental drummer should be able to do effortlessly.

I also really dig this one because it has a subtle Wilcoxin vibe to it (probably because of the hand-to-hand flams, I suppose).

Here are the four variations:

(Please forgive the change in size of these examples. I just recently switched over to a newer version of Sibelius and haven't quite mastered creating .jpeg files from it quite yet!)






I was going to record an audio track of me playing this but found this one of the Impulse drum line playing through it instead (and I think they do a pretty good job!):



Remember:

- Take it slow at first

- Play it with a metronome and strive for rhythmic accuracy

- Try leading with both the Right and Left hands

- Play it with brushes!

- Attempt replacing the double stroke rolls with 32nd note single strokes rolls!

- Add some kind of bass drum/hi-hat pattern underneath