Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I was rather fortunate recently to work with Calgary's premier contemporary Jazz dance company, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, for their latest production "Ziriguidum" for the month of April and beginning of May. This very creative show featured a live Jazz trio consisting of myself on drums with Rubim De Toledo on bass and Chris Andrew on piano accompanying a cast of very talented dancers. The original score was all composed by Rubim and the show choreographed by Kimberley Cooper. These artists never cease to amaze me.

The second half of the show featured an amazing Brazilian dance group called Cia Vata, under the direction of Valeria Pinheiro. This group hails from the North East of Brazil and mixed folkloric rhythms with movement and dance, even interpreting many of these rhythms with a very unique form of "tap" dancing. It was quite enthralling to hear them perform night after night and hear this music performed so authentically, with the right feel.

This whole experience has really prompted me to revisit those rhythms and get deeper into this music. Definitely no lack of things to practice and learn from!

A few resources I'll be diving into real soon:

- Ed Uribe's great book "The Essence of Brazilian Percussion and Drumset"

- Duduka Da Fonseca's "Brazilian Rhythms for Drumset"

- Todd Bishop's very helpful guide, "Playing Samba and Bossa Nova: A Field Guide for Drummers"

Incidentally, Todd just posted a great clip of Brazilian drummer Milton Banana over at his blog today:

And of course, LISTENING to this music extensively is the way to go. Otherwise all the rhythms you might learn from a book will be meaningless unless you spend time also trying to capture the sound and feel.

So in the meantime, check out these examples of this great Brazilian Batucada ensemble:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Vernel Fournier

The piano trio of Ahmad Jamal with Israel Crosby on bass and Vernell Fournier on drums is MUST listening for any serious jazz drummer and/or rhythm section player. There are many lessons to be learned from the understated and highly swinging approach that these three gentlemen demonstrate together.

Vernell is a very unique drummer that's not a household name but definitely worthy of serious study. I really dig the way he plays the arrangements, his light touch and groovy two-feel. I don't think I've heard him really play a full-out drum solo. He was all about playing with other people and making the band feel/sound good. And I don't think you can go wrong with that...

I really have to thank Carl Allen for suggesting to me that I check out this trio and their recordings years ago.

Here's some rare footage to get started:

Thanks to Ted Panken here's an interview with Vernel Fournier to check out:

And here Fournier discusses his famous New Orleans inspired groove from Jamal's arrangement of "Poinciana":

Here's what Jack DeJohnette has to say about Fournier's drumming:

And oh yes, Four on the Floor is now SIX years old!!! Thank you for all your support.