Monday, April 9, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, it's sort of spring here in Calgary but winter still refuses to give itself up completely and leave us for good. Personally I'm ready for some warmer temperatures, some fresh air and some green on the trees and shrubs around here for once...let's get on with it already! Anyways, enough of me rambling on about the weather. Here's a few interesting things to take note of this morning in the wide world of Jazz drumming and percussion:

-I was lucky to hear some real world-class musicians this past week here in Calgary. Last Tuesday I caught Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain and The Masters of Percussion at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts. I've seen them before during a performance in Toronto at Roy Thompson Hall a few years ago and it was incredible then and they certainly did not disappoint this time either! Zakir and his cohorts are true masters of rhythm and it was really a mind-blowing experience all around.

The group featured a several soloists on instruments from the greater India/Pakistan region in both solo and ensemble features. The highlights for me were Zakir's tabla duets with his brother that featured them trading some pretty slick polyrhythms back and forth over some really intricate forms and at some ridiculous speeds. And of course, as always, Abbos Kosimov from Uzbekistan stole the show on the frame drum known as the Doyra (and at one point playing three drums balanced on each other at the same time!) I saw Abbos give a brilliant masterclass at PASIC in 2009 and was blown away then too.

Here is a sample of Kosimov's brilliant frame drumming:

And here is a taste of Zakir Hussain and his budding Masters of rhythm:

-Friday evening took me to the Beatniq Jazz & Social club to hear legendary pianist Hal Galper with his trio. The band had a real tight dynamic and a connection you only get from mature musicians that play together a lot and you could tell that they were all really on the same page musically and conceptually. They mostly played Galper's originals but opened the evening's first set with a blistering fast version of "Alice in Wonderland" and finished the first set with a rearrangement of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin". I was really impressed and fascinated by the very dense and loose rhythmic nature that the trio played with and how they really propelled the music forward from the very first note. There was no sense of hesitation or doubt whatsoever! The trio arrangements, as far as I could tell, really blurred the line between playing free and structured, playing in-time/out-of-time but I really dug it and it was really beautiful music to listen to. Drummer John Bishop did a fantastic job, played with a great sound and dynamics and he really exhibited a nice way of orchestrating ideas around the drum set while moving the music forward and giving the music exactly what it needed. I especially appreciated his approach to playing some really fast tempos that broke up the patterns around the drums very effectively. I'd like to hear more of this trio and, in particular, explore more of their personal approach to how they express the notion of time and playing freely together.

Thanks to Bret Primack, The Jazz Video Guy, here is some footage of the very same trio playing and Galper explains their trio concept of open playing very articulately:

-One of my favorite earlier Hal Galper recordings is called "Children of The Night" and features Bob Moses on drums along with Randy and Michael Brecker. Here is one of Rakalam doing his thing that I came across:

-Thanks to David Stanoch who passed along this fine clip of Art Blakey circa. 1979:

-Here's an interesting one of Brian Blade using his hands...

-My good friend Jerome Jennings from New York City is up to great things these days (including work with his group "The Jazz Knights" and the occasional gig with Sonny Rollins!) Check out his EPK:

-Congratulations to Phil Dwyer and David Braid who each recently took home Juno awards for their respective albums. Phil and David are both incredibly talented artists and have also worked very hard on their music over the years. It's very nice to see these two recognized for all the efforts they've put into their projects.

-Courtesy of the New York Public Library's Oral History Project, here is an extended interview with drummer Art Taylor to check out: (thanks to Mike Melito who found this one!)

-What am I listening to these days?

Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" - Shelly Manne (drums)

Louis Bellson Big Band "East Side Suite" - Louis Bellson (drums)

Dave Pike "It's Time for Dave Pike" - Billy Higgins (drums), Dave Pike (vibraphone)

Brian Barley "Trio 1970" - Claude Ranger (drums)

Ulysses Owens Jr. "Unanimous" - Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums)

Milt Jackson "The Ballad Artistry of Milt Jackson" - Connie Kay (drums), Milt Jackson (vibraphone)

Charles Lloyd "Home" (DVD) - Billy Higgins (drums & percussion)

Miles Davis "Round Midnight" - Philly Joe Jones (drums)

-If you are interested in seeing me play over the next couple of months, here is where I'll be for April and May:


17 Jazz Drumming Workshop - Foothills Composite High School (Okotoks, AB)
18 Drum Set and Percussion Workshop - Banff, AB
19 Sheldon Zandboer Trio - Hyatt Regency, Sandstone Lounge 5-7pm
20 Johnny Summers Quartet - Heritage Park
21 Vibraphone duet with bassist Stefano Valdo - Waves Coffee House on 17th
27-28 Chris Andrew's Tribute to Oscar Peterson - Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)


2 Drum Set and Percussion Workshop - Banff, AB
4-5 Jon McCaslin Quintet Sunalta CD Release - The Cellar (Vancouver)
6 Jon McCaslin Trio recording session (Vancouver)
10 Jeff McGregor Trio - Kawa Espresso Bar
12 Jon McCaslin Quintet - Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)
18-19 Jon McCaslin Quintet - Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
23-25 Oliver Jones Quartet - Theatre Junction Grand
26 National Jazz Summit - Improvisation Workshop
26 Ralf Buschmeyer Quartet- Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)

-I'm off to New York City pretty soon here so I won't be blogging for the next week or so but expect a full report of my travels once I return from the Big Apple. In the meantime, please check out and purchase a copy of my new album "Sunalta" (see below!)

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