Monday, June 1, 2015

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

And...we're back.

Sorry for the radio silence lately. This spring has been quite busy and I've been on the go, first playing for a very time consuming and soul satisfying modern dance production with a very talented and creative group of people, Calgary's Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production of "Ziriguidum". Then my wife and I recently took off to Paris for a couple weeks for a break. Now I'm home and back in the saddle. Blogging over here will resume accordingly. Thanks for sticking around!

This was my first trip Paris and surprisingly I was fortunate to hear many great Jazz drummers during my travels in addition to all the many things one does when they visit Paris (like eat lots of cheese...)

First we headed over to the Duc de Lombards, one of Paris' premier Jazz spots, and heard Kendrick Scott with virtuoso harmonicist (harmonicacist?) Gregoire Maret featuring Jon Cowherd on piano and a wonderful Polish bass player whose name escapes me. Scott's drumming was exceptional and he has really developed a very musical and unique voice on the drums (that I'm quite fond of actually). In particular his ride cymbal variations and techniques were a real lesson in themselves that offered me more than a few things to ponder and think about while waiting in line at the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in the days to come. I first heard Scott with Terence Blanchard about ten years ago and he continues to be one of my favorite "up-and-coming" drummers of our generation.

We stayed in a nice little hotel in the St. Germain district and happened to be there during the St. Germain Festival de Jazz. How convenient ! We were fortunate to catch a performance of pianist Vijay Iyer and his trio featuring Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. I've heard Iyer a few times in Calgary and Banff now but this was the first time I've heard Gilmore play. Being the drumming grandson of Roy Haynes certainly sets up some expectations (for some anyways...) but I was actually very impressed with both his musicality and mature approach to the music. Some solo features he took demonstrated a real influence of Jack DeJohnette, especially in the way he would integrate and lead phrases with the bass drum. The trio was a very cohesive unit I look forward to hearing more of Gilmore in the years to come.

Finally, I was able to catch up with my dear old friend Karl Jannuska who we heard play with a singer/song writer and his trio on a boat, a sort of floating Jazz club on the Seine river. I first met Karl in 1995 when I moved to Montreal to study at McGill University. He's one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet and it's no wonder that in the last 15 years he has quickly become one of the busiest Jazz drummers in Paris. Originally from Brandon, Manitoba Karl was always a popular drummer around McGill and a shining example how to make music of the highest level on the drum set. I haven't Karl play in a number of years but was quickly reminded of his great sound, brilliant phrasing and creative approach to the drum set. Karl is all about the music and I'm really happy to see him continue to do so well for himself. He has recorded a number of albums featuring his own original music that are definitely worth checking out. Karl tells me that he has another one in the works so keep your ears peeled for that one.

I wasn't expecting to hear any Jazz (or music for that matter) during our travels so the opportunity to hear these three incredible drummers was definitely a bonus.

Anyways, in other news, here's a mess of other things to check out thanks to our ever vigilant Four on the Floor foreign correspondents:

- Here's a great article on Jo Jones from Jazz Lives:

- Thanks to Calgary's John Reid who passed along this lengthy article on really OLD vintage drum sets:

After reading this I'm wondering if now is the time to bring back the practice of painting lush mountain and lake scenes on the front of our bass drum heads.

- Via Adam Nussbaum, here's an item on Albert Tootie Heath from NPR:

- I'm always excited to find new interviews with the greats to listen and learn from. Ben Sidran speaks with a number of Jazz legends on his radio series, NPR's "Talking Jazz":

In particular, check out his interviews with the likes of Max Roach, Paul Motian, Art Blakey and Tony Williams.

- Speaking of interviews, here's an extensive conversation between Ethan Iverson and bassist Ron Carter over at Iverson's blog Do The Math worth checking out:

- Todd Bishop has been very busy over at his fine blog Cruiseship Drummer. He's been blogging his tail off recently to promote his fundraising campaign. There's always lots of great things to check out on his blog. A few pieces of his that I've really enjoyed lately:

Barry Altschul on playing melodically:

(I could have used this one while finishing my doctoral dissertation last fall...oh well!)

A nice great Billy Higgins transcription from an interpretation of Othar Turner's Shimmy Shewobble:

And here's a some food-for-thought with regards to different ways to play the ride cymbal:

This column was inspired by a piece from George Colligan's blog Jazz Truth and is also a good read:

Some great info here, especially the pedagogical statement on the importance of developing a good cymbal beat. I think Bill Stewart's paraphrased quote really nails it:

"You might know all the rudiments but if you don't get the ride cymbal together, nobody is going to call you!"

Jazz "truth" indeed.

- Another great post from Jazz Advice, with some ideas on improving your Time and sense of Rhythm:

- Here's an interview with the ever articulate Peter Erskine and his new Tama drums:

- Dig the ever funky/swinging Mike Clark demonstrating his DW drums:

- And finally, here's an audio interview with drummer/percussionist Don Alias from the folks over at LP Percussion:

- What am I listening to these days?

Curtis Nowosad "Dialectics" - Curtis Nowosad (drums)

Elvin Jones Trio "The Ultimate" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Jimmy Heath "Really Big!" - Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

Harold Land "The Fox" - Frank Butler (drums)

Michel Lambert "Journal Des Episodes I & II" - Michel Lambert (drums)

Kevin Dean "Weather Permitting" - Dave Laing (drums)

Paul Chambers "Whims of Chambers" - Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Phineas Newborn Jr. "We Three" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Tara Davidson "Duets"

- Today's Last Word comes from the great, late Clark Terry. I recently watched the documentary "Keep On Keepin' On" during my flight to Europe and found great inspiration in his life, music and wisdom (which he was all too willing to share with any who would listen).

"You can't do it the easy way. You have to do it the right way!" - Clark Terry

Thanks again for visiting and see you all again real soon !

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