Monday, March 7, 2011


Times have been busy lately rehearsing with Calgary's Decidedly Jazz Danceworks recent production of WILDS. The show is choreographed by Kimberley Cooper with original music composed by Rubim DeToldeo and Chris Andrew. The music is an exciting and eclectic mix of contemporary Jazz music exploring many different vibes and textures (and some challenging odd meters to boot!) There is lots of great material here to deal with and I'm having a lot of fun working with Kim, the whole band and this talented cast of dancers.

The show opens on Friday evening and runs March 11 - 20 at the Grand Theatre in downtown Calgary, Alberta. Don't miss this exciting show.

For more information about this show and the company check out their website here:

The four of us in the band (including myself on drums with Bob Tildesely on trumpet and effects, Chris Andrew on piano and keyboards and Rubim DeToldeo on bass) performed the music from the show on Saturday evening to a packed and enthusiastic crowd at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club in Calgary. It was really nice to stretch on these fine tunes and see what different directions the music could go. There were a lot of musicians, and in particular drummers, in the house that evening and several asked me afterwards about a particular groove that I played for one movement of the show (simply dubbed "The African Vibe"). No one seemed to be able to agree where beat one was !

So here it is....

I needed to come up with a workable, groovy "African" sounding pattern for this particular piece so with much influence and inspiration taken from drummers Ed Blackwell, Billy Martin and the beat Max Roach plays on Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco", I came up with this drum pattern:

The Wilds "African Vibe" Drum Groove

Here's a few finer details about this pattern:

-The right hand part is played on a cowbell and is basically a displaced version of a common calypso bell pattern that I heard.

-On the cowbell I play a subtle little accent on the + of beat 4 in the first bar to give the groove a little "hump" and a little direction phrasing-wise.

-For an extra texture I play the groove with a small wicker shaker placed on the floor tom and a West African bundle of shakers/beads on the small tom to rattle around and add an extra effect, sort of like a "prepared" drum set (Thank you Glenn Kotche/John Cage!)

-The hi-hat plays in half-notes although as the groove intensifies during the piano solo I will often double it up to play quarter notes.

-During a quieter section of the piece I'll often play the groove exclusively on the rims of the drums to change the mood (sounds great on my new wood hoops!) and when the piano solo reaches its climax I'll often return to the original pattern but with the right hand on the bell of the ride cymbal to crank it up a notch.

-It's a fun groove to mess around with and a deceivingly simple pattern as the right hand cowbell phrase starts on the + of beat one.

Please come and check out the show during our run and experience a very unique and exciting show of contemporary Jazz dance and music. I consider myself very fortunate to be in the company of such a talented and creative group of artists, dancers and musicians.

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