Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dennis Mackrel Plays

Drummer Dennis Mackrel, while not as widely known as I think he should be, has long been a favourite of mine and a great example of a drummer whose versatility has allowed him a very diverse career. Certainly his exceptional musicality, professionalism and ability to "get the job done" has always been an inspiration and shining example to someone like myself who is just trying to make it happen as a Jazz drummer in this crazy world.

In addition to being an incredible big band drummer (see his work with the Count Basie Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Maria Schneider and, at one point, Mel Lewis's replacement with the Vanguard Orchestra) he's also a very creative and dynamic small group drummer and a great arranger as well.

Dennis recently recorded an album with Toronto saxophonist Kirk MacDonald featuring Tom Harrell and I'm really looking forward to hearing the results of that. I heard Dennis a number of years ago in Edmonton at the Yardbird Suite in a trio configuration with MacDonald and bassist Neil Swainson. Kirk was really stretching and taking long solos/jazz odyssey's that evening and Mackrel provided the perfect backdrop and followed and pushed MacDonald along, note-for-note the entire evening. It was really inspiring to hear a drummer listening and reacting so attentively like that. That's what we should all be striving for, dig?

Here's a clip of Dennis guesting with a student ensemble, demonstrating his incredible musicality and fluidity around the drum set:

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