Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jim Black

I first heard drummer Jim Black about 15 years ago in Montreal when he would come to town and perform with guitarist Ben Monder's trio. They usually played at the now defunct "L'Air du Temps" jazz club in Old Montreal and usually to a very small audience (!) But encouraged by my fellow McGill drum students at the time - Karl Jannuska, Stefan Schneider and Mike Schula - I would always check out Jim Black's unique approach to music whenever I had the chance.

At the time I was very much into checking out and copping my favorite hard-bop drummers, so to experience Black's contemporary style that draws from so many different stylistic sources and angles was quite a departure and wake-up call for me ! One thing that immediately knocked me out was the sound of his drums - low and "rock" like, how dry and metallic his cymbals were and his use of extra little percussion instruments. I think his hihats were splash cymbals ? Anyways, Black was one of the first real New York drummers that I got to check out during the mid-90s.

Ben Monder would also frequent Montreal several times a year around this time to play with Montrealers Andre White (drums) and Brian Hurley (bass). Those gigs will always remain very significant musical moments for me. They played almost exclusively standards, but Monder's harmonic and textural approach to playing these tunes was unlike anything and anyone else I'd ever heard before. Monder is also featured on White's debut album "Signal" and most people don't believe me when I play it for them and reveal that it's Monder on guitar !

Anyhow, here's a few clips of Jim Black doing his thing.

Here's Black in a drum solo spot, apparently dedicated to someone named "Charlie":

A great version of Ornette Coleman's "Broadway Blues" with Black, Julian Arguelles and Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle:

Unfortunately the video quality is crap, but the music below is SMOKIN' with Jim Black joined by Dave Liebman on tenor saxophone and, again, Ronan Guilfoyle on bass at New York's 55 Bar:

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