Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Guys Get Shirts Part 2

Here is John Riley wearing his new limited edition 10th anniversary Four on the Floor t-shirt.

You can own one too! (while supplies last...)

Drop me a line at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com and I'll set you up asap (for ordering details please see my previous post below).

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Drummer's Guide to the JazzYYC Summer Jazz Festival

It's nearly Jazz festival season here in Canada and things kick off this week in my hometown of Calgary, AB with the annual JazzYYC Summer Jazz Festival running June 12-16 in various venues across the city. There is lots of great music happening this week and, in particular, many great drummers to check out.

So on that note, here's my very biased and drummer-centric picks of several not-to-be-missed shows to attend and the great drummers that will be performing this week (and in no particular order...)

- Toronto's Larnell Lewis has been making waves around the world with his deep pocket, grooves and chops to spare with artists such as pianist Laila Biali and the band Snarky Puppy. Last November's performance with bassist Mike Downes at Calgary's BuckingJam Palace was a real demonstration of sensitive dynamics and musical inventiveness from behind the drum kit. This guy can roar...but he can also whisper too.

This time Larnell is bringing his own sextet and original music to Calgary on the heel's of his recent Juno nomination to play at the Ironwood Stage & Grill on Saturday, June 15th starting at 7pm.

Larnell will also be offering a FREE drum workshop on Saturday afternoon starting at 2pm, appearing at the National Music Centre.

- Pianist Benny Green's trio featuring bassist David Wong and drummer Aaron Kimmel will undoubtedly be, for me anyways, the highlight of this year's Jazz festival.

Following in the footsteps of the many other great drummers that Green has played with (see Kenny Washington, Carl Allen, Lewis Nash, Jeff Hamilton, etc.) Kimmel's drumming and hard swinging style is no exception and will not disappoint.

Check out the discipline and control that Kimmel maintains at this breakneck tempo:

I know where I'll be on Friday evening starting at 8pm! (appearing at the Studio Bell)

Benny Green will also be offering a FREE workshop on Friday at noon (also at NMC) and I am quite looking forward to this as well.

As per always: when the Masters speak, we listen!

- Toronto's Stich Wynston has been grooving behind the Shuffle Demons for as long as I can remember and it's always a treat to hear him lay it down from behind the drums in his unique way:

Hear Stich and the Shuffle Demons at the Ironwood on Wednesday evening starting at 7pm.

- Montreal's Mark Nelson is a drummer I've long admired since I first met him at the Banff Centre ten years ago. Nelson is appearing with Elizabeth Shepard at the King Eddy on Saturday evening (930pm) along with a great band featuring Michael Occhipinti on guitar, Jacques Kuba-Seguin on trumpet and Calgary's own Jon Wielebnowski on bass.

Here's a brief clip of Nelson demonstrating some inventive rhythms on some nice Gretsch drums:

- Drummer Dan Brubeck, son of the late Dave Brubeck, will be appearing with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet at Studio Bell on Saturday evening (8pm).

- Cody Iwasiuk will be laying down some dirty grooves and greasy backbeats with the Dirty Catfish Brass Band out of Winnipeg on Thursday evening at the Ironwood (7pm)

- When I lived in Toronto I would often check out Glenn Anderson playing drums with a variety of trad Jazz groups including the likes of the Excelsior Dixieland Jazz Band at the Rex on Sunday afternoons. Anderson will be bringing his swinging beat to Calgary, backing up vocalist Alex Pangman on Friday evening at the Ironwood (7pm).

- I first met drummer Mackenzie Longpre at the University of Toronto while I was pursuing my Doctoral studies in Toronto circa. 2007-2009. Mack sounded really great back then and he now he's even better! Longpre will be performing with trumpeter/vocalist Tara Kannangara at the Ironwood on Sunday evening (7pm)

- Calgary tap dancer Kelly Steele has been making a name for herself around town over the past couple of years, faithfully attending jam sessions and gigs, initiating local audiences to the possibilities of Jazz & Tap. Check out Kelly's tap Jazz quartet at the King Eddy on Saturday evening featuring local young lion Harry Faunt on the drums (6pm).

- Once you've seen whatever concert you've chosen, make sure to head down to the Ironwood Bar & Grill Thursday through Saturday evenings (10pm) to hear pianist Dave Restivo and his trio host the late-night festival jam session. Local phenom Colin Adhikary will be holding down the drum chair and I'm sure there will be exciting things to come out of these sessions.

- While not officially part of the festival, but definitely most worthy of any serious Calgary Jazz fan's attention, is the Redline Trio featuring Jeff Sulima on drums at Betty Lou's in the basement of Devinish Building, just off of 17th Avenue and 8th Street SW.

Along with veteran saxman Mark DeJong, these guys have been holding court at this hip cocktail bar every week for well over a year now and it's a great place to relax, enjoy a nice beverage and dig some great music in a hip room. Check them out every Thursday evening starting at 7pm.

- Speaking of regular gigs, tenor saxophonist Nate Waters also leads a trio at the Deane House (809 9th Avenue SE) every Sunday night featuring the tasteful Nate Chiang on drums. The band starts at 6pm, swings hard and the restaurant menu is awesome.

- And last, but certainly not least, here's a couple of notable gigs of my own coming up this week:

I'll be appearing with guitarist Joel Untinen at the Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar as part of the JazzYYC Jazz Walk on Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm (FREE admission!) Joel is home for the summer following his first year of graduate studies at New York University, studying with guitarist Peter Bernstein so this should be a fun one indeed.

And last, but certainly not least, I am also very excited to present my own "Tribute to Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers" on Thursday, June 13th at the King Eddy (930pm). I am very proud of the band and music I've assembled for this performance and hope that you can join us for this special evening of music.

For more festival and ticket information, visit the JazzYYC website at www.jazzyyc.com and remember, tell them that Four on the Floor sent you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Guys Get Shirts Part 1

Chad Anderson modelling his new limited edition 10th anniversary Four on the Floor t-shirt.

You can own one too!

Drop me a line at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com and I'll set you up asap (for ordering details please see my previous post below).

Monday, June 3, 2019

Jon McCaslin's Tribute to Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

I have a cool gig coming up in a few weeks and I hope you can all make it.

Art Blakey has been a significant influence on me since I first started playing the drums and on this occasion I've put together a great band to pay tribute to one of Jazz music's most important band leaders and hardest swinging drummers (Blakey was born in 1919 and would have been 100 years old this year!) I've spent hours and hours listening to and studying Art Blakey's music of the years and his example as a hard swinging drummer that truly serves the music has long left an impression on me.

It's rare that I'm asked to put together a tribute project such as this (although recently I did present a trio project with pianist George Colligan and bassist Jodi Proznick to play the music of pianist Herbie Nichols last February at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, AB) but when I do it's because it is music that I believe in and has had a profound influence on me.

I never met Art Blakey or had the opportunity to hear him play live so I suppose musical opportunities such as this are my small way of saying "Thank You".

Presented by JazzYYC, we'll be playing at the newly restored King Eddy Hotel, now part of the National Music Centre, located in the East Village (Calgary, AB). I also have a great group of world-class musicians to play with and look forward to an evening of high-energy, hard-swinging music for you all to enjoy.


JazzYYC Summer Jazz Festival Presents:

Jon McCaslin's Tribute to 
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

Thursday, June 13th                            9:30pm

Appearing at the King Eddy                 438 9th Avenue SE

Tickets: $25 Students $15


Dean McNeill - Trumpet

Jeremiah McDade - Tenor Saxophone

Al Kay - Trombone

Mark Limacher - Piano

Steve Shepard - Bass

Jon McCaslin - Drums

For ticket information please visit:


Monday, May 27, 2019

Kenny Clarke - "On the Alamo"

Some great footage that I hadn't seen before of Klook with the Martial Solal trio from 1958 featuring Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet:

This is a great opportunity to check out Klook's left hand and comping. In particular, dig how Clarke often digs into the quarter notes on the snare drum and the stick/brushes combination near the end.

And also...from Jazz Profiles, a wonderful, recent article on the legacy of Kenny Clarke.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Four on the Floor t-shirts

As promised, my limited edition Four on the Floor 10th Anniversary t-shirts are now available!

Thanks again to the Grand Master Cymbalholic himself, Mr. Chad Anderson, for offering this very hip logo for my blog and t-shirt design.

These shirts are now available in medium, large and x-large sizes and are lightweight premium fitted 100% cotton tees.

The shirts are $30 each (+shipping)

If you are interested in purchasing one, please drop me a line asap at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com or reach me through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and I'll set you up pronto.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Eric Binder: "An Introduction to Bebop Drumming"

On the heels of his other recent book release "10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation" Eric Binder has recently self-published another excellent book, this time specifically addressing the genre of Bebop drumming.

Eric was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest offering.

Eric Binder - The Four on the Floor Interview
"An Introduction to Bebop Drumming: A Concise Historical Overview and Practical Exercises"

1) Tell us all about your book! What is it all about and what are the goals of your text?

This is a traditional 6x9 paperback book (which is unlike most drum methods); it is easy to carry around and reference. It combines historical material with exercises intended to introduce readers to Bebop. The main objective with this project is to clearly demonstrate that Bebop is a very specific style and genre that is separate from Hard Bop. Far too often the years between the Swing era and the Post-Bop years (1960 and later) get called “Bop”. It worries me when Tony Williams and Elvin Jones are called Bebop drummers. The truth of it is, most drummers (and musicians) don’t know the difference. I aim to identify what is special about Bebop and the drumming style.

2) What was the motivation and inspiration for putting together this method?

My motivation for this book was the term “Bop” being used to categorize all music that wasn’t Swing and wasn’t Post-Bop. Those folks calling Tony and Elvin Bebop drummers really motivated me (haha).

3) How does your book differ from other method books that deal with Jazz (or bebop) drumming? What makes it unique?

Truthfully, I don’t think there are any TRUE Bebop drumming books on the market today. There are books that touch on the drumming style, but don’t identify it as an entity of its own; it’s always “Bop” drumming. My book also provides background on where Bebop came from which is so important to understand. This book is unique in that there is a good amount of history, but also relevant playing exercises and a discography. In my opinion, it is a wonderful reference for all drummers, musicians, and educators.

4) How is your subject matter organized and presented?

The book starts with a concise but informative history on Swing and Bebop music, and drumming. The reader will learn where and how Bebop started and how the drumming evolved. After the history section, there is a large portion of exercises that cover everything from technique, rudiments, comping, melody, and more. The last section is a discography section of Swing and Bebop drummers, and other musicians.

5) Why is it important for drummers to study bebop drumming?

Bebop music created a whole new vocabulary that is still relevant today.The drumming style that was developed through the innovations of Bebop was the beginning of what we know as modern drumming. The way we play “time” on the ride cymbal, the way we play ideas between our 4 limbs, this all started because of Bebop.

6) Do you have any plans for any further books, dealing with other specific styles of Jazz drumming

The next book I am going to release is something I’ve been working on for a while. It is a technique book that is meant for students to use to gain the facility and technique necessary improvise freely. I’m a huge believer in practicing to gain the facility to play freely, rather than work on ideas that you place randomly. What you play should be based off of what is going on in the music, not what you planned on playing (but that’s a whole other discussion). As for books on specific styles, I would eventually like to do Hard Bop and Post-Bop versions. 


To purchase Eric's book visit his website: https://ericbinder.bigcartel.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Inside the Musician's Mind with Matt Wilson

A wonderful interview with the ever imaginative and inspiring Matt Wilson courtesy of the nice folks over at the Port Washington Public Library:

And here's a fun clip of Matt in action, performing a clever drum solo improvisation over the Carl Sandburg spoken poem "Fog" from his "Honey & Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg" project (highly recommended!):

I was very fortunate to study with Matt Wilson in New York City back in 2004 thanks to a project grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I have many very fond memories of my time working together with Matt, mostly in the basement of his home in Baldwin, New York.

We spent hours talking about music and the drums. I was also very fortunate to follow him around with his band too, whether they were playing in a famous New York City Jazz club or a school gymnasium packed full of students. Hanging and learning from Matt was "all music, all the time" and there's not a day that goes by that I don't consider some aspect of our lessons together.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Evelyn Glennie Solo

Thank you to Calgary's Jim Johnston who unearthed this cool little piece, featuring Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie, improvising on a multiple-percussion set-up:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Andrew Cyrille Solo

Andrew Cyrille isn't a drummer that I'm nearly familiar with but I've been reading Val Wilmer's book "As Serious as Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977" and this has prompted me to check out some drummers and listen to some new music lately.

Cyrille is, of course, a prolific artist and I am fascinated by his approach to rhythm and orchestration around the drum set. I also really enjoyed this up-close and personal solo performance:

Of course, watching this one led me down a YouTube rabbit hole last night and I discovered this 1969 solo recording of Cyrille:

And then there's this dynamic duo album from 1974 featuring Andrew Cyrille and Milford Graves:

I would also recommend checking out these interviews with this unique, creative mind:

- And extensive interview with Ted Panken

- A two-part series from Jazz Times magazine Part 1 Part 2

- A feature from the New York Times from Nate Chinen

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, we're well into Spring here but you'd hardly know it where I live, given all the snow that keeps on lingering about (well I suppose it IS Canada after all, eh?) Anyhow, let's not let the weather get us down and instead focus on all the cool things that our hard working correspondents in the Four on the Floor office have compiled for us to check out this month:

- A spotlight on Baby Dodds & Zutty Singleton from Jazz Profiles.

- An audio interview with the great Billy Higgins from Heidi Chang.

- From Jazz Times magazine, Joe Lovano speaks about his favourite Paul Motian recordings:

- The Mel Lewis radio interviews are legendary and required listening for anyone serious about the study of Jazz drumming. And here they are compiled for your listening and educational pleasure.

And also an interview with Mel Lewis by Loren Schoenberg.

*Loren has also posted a number of Mel's radio interviews, featuring various different drummers, on YouTube. I'll get to those later!*

- George Marsh featured over at the Drummer's Weekly Groovecast.

- A nice drum solo introduction from Johnathan Blake from a recent hit at Smalls:

Also, an older, but great piece from 2012 on Blake from NPR.

Oh yes, and don't forget to check out Johnathan's amazing new album "Trion" with Chris Potter and Linda Oh: https://johnathanblake1.bandcamp.com/releases

- Montreal drummer and McGill Jazz professor Andre White was a huge influence on me during the 90s while I was living and studying in Montreal (he still is in fact and I often think about his approach to the drums and musicianship...) Not sure where this one came from, but here's some grainy footage of White swinging nicely on a rhythm changes:

- Kendrick Scott also has an amazing new album release on Blue Note. Hear Scott's thoughts on his new music here.

- Jerome Jennings is a hard working drummer who's work ethic and attitude I greatly admire. Here's a cool drum solo piece of his entitled "Heart":

- Carl Allen is one of the busiest drummers on the scene today and I often reflect on my lessons with him, back in the early 2000s.

Here's a couple of interviews with Allen to check out:

- The ever musical Tina Raymond via The Working Drummer podcast:

- Ralph Peterson Jr. featured on the Meinl Cymbals Radio Podcast:

- Here's Keith Hall with a great ride cymbal lesson from his new YouTube lesson series:

- What am I listening to these days?

Keith Jarrett "Standards Live" - Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Bernie Senensky Septet "Re:Action" - Barry Elmes (drums)

Wayne Shorter "Speak No Evil" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Chick Corea "Trio Music - Live in Europe" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Elvin Jones "The Complete Blue Note Recordings" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Paul Chambers "The Complete Blue Note Recordings" - Philly Joe Jones/Elvin Jones/Art Blakey/Art Taylor (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to the ever wise and swinging Joe Farnsworth (pay attention!):

"Must come from inside you. Like breathing. It has got to be the base from which all your drumming stems. Your quarter note. Not Elvin's. Not Higgins'. Not metronome. Not Red Garland trio. That quarter note must always be there. Start with just cymbal. Slow. Breathe. Make it smooth. Then add bass drum. Then hi-hat. Then snare quarters. Make it all one sound. It's mostly mental practice and sound. Your mind and body must have this down without thinking. Like breathing." - Joe Farnsworth (via Paul Lacotta on the Facebook)

Well, that's all I've got for now. Thanks again for checking in and see you in a minute. Until then, keep swingin' as always!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Susie Ibarra Solo

Some inspiring and creative solo drum and percussion work from Susie Ibarra:

The idea of presenting a concert of solo drum set & percussion music is one that has interested me and captivated my imagination for some time. I've played solo pieces before in the context of a concert with a full-band, but never really an entire concert on my own (not a successful one anyways!) Performances such as this from the likes of Ibarra (and others, such as Joey Baron, Gerry Hemingway, Antonio Sanchez and Ted Warren come to mind) are great examples of how to sustain musical percussive interest over extended periods of time without resorting to drum pyrotechnics or pointless demonstrations of chops and speed.

Actually, now that I think of it, I did actually try this once...during bassist Joel Kerr's "Fat Lamb" Music Festival during the summer of 2000 in Regina, Saskatchewan (incidentally being held across the street from the "Flat Land" Festival being held in Victoria Park!) I remember that I jumped on the opportunity when Joel asked me to fill a set for his nightly ad hoc improvised music festival (at the time Joel and I were touring with the critically acclaimed musical touring act "Saskatchewan Express").

However, I didn't really put any thought into it and basically just hit the drums for an hour straight with no attention to any musical structure, organization or musical development. There was a reasonable crowd present when I started my set and about 3/4 of the audience had left once I was finished an hour later. Perhaps some of the drummers in audience appreciated what I did but I imagine that most people in the audience probably got bored (in fact, I distinctly remember how bored that I personally felt about 10 minutes into the whole thing!) In terms of being a musically responsible solo Jazz drummer that evening, I would have given myself a solid of grade of F.

In retrospect perhaps that's a bit harsh but I do wish I had put more attention and pre-planning into how I structured my performance and I wish I had framed it on a more musical level as opposed to a random "drumming" one. It was certainly a learning experience and one that (even almost 20 years later!) I hope to revisit in the future...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Steve Gadd Plays Flams

Some fun footage today of Steve Gadd demonstrating some rudiments and how he applies them in creative/musical ways around the drum set:

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Art of Jeff Ballard

Thanks to the nice folks over at Jazzcampus Basel in Switzerland, here's an informative interview with modern Jazz great Jeff Ballard:

And another one from the archives, a great interview with Ballard thanks to George Colligan over at JazzTruth: http://jazztruth.blogspot.com/2012/06/jeff-ballard-interview.html

Monday, April 15, 2019

Chris Smith - The Drum Hang Vol. 5

It's been a minute since we've caught up with Chris Smith and his awesome series The Drum Hang. As always, Chris has put together many wonderful and insightful episodes with a ton of great information, covering all sorts of important aspects related to Jazz drumming. Take some time to check these out and learn something:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Four on the Floor 10th Anniversary

I'm happy to announce that today marks the 10th anniversary of Four on the Floor!

I started this blog on April 11th, 2009 in my apartment while still living in Toronto shortly before I returned to Calgary (where I've been living for the past 10 years).

I created Four on the Floor for numerous reasons: First and foremost, I was in the middle of studying for my candidacy exam towards my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto that spring and what better way to procrastinate and be counterproductive than by starting an on-line blog??? But in all seriousness, my reasons were actually far more specific (in addition to the convenience of a worthy distraction!)

I've always loved sharing my passion for Jazz drumming with anyone who's interested to hear me out and give me a few minutes of their time. I also consider myself a bit of a musical detective and, to a certain extent, a self-professed Jazz drumming "curator". Personally I get quite excited whenever I discover a cool youtube.com video, an illuminating article/interview or any obscure piece of information that I consider to be a little gem related to the art of Jazz drumming. For awhile I would send out a mass email to my select friends and colleagues, sharing whatever recent discovery that inspired me. I know that some people really appreciated this while some others just considered it to be spam, clogging up their inbox Lol.

However, I was also very inspired by the likes of bloggers Ronan Guilfoyle, Peter Hum, Ethan Iverson, Jesse Cahill, Todd Bishop, Ted Warren and Darcy James Argue (among many others), all of whom maintained excellent blogs and all had great information to share in their respective realms of Jazz music. These examples all inspired me to consider posting my various Jazz drumming finds on my own public, on-line platform.

Most significantly, however, was Chad Anderson's tireless work (along with his partner Patrice) in creating and maintaining the web forum Cymbalholic  www.cymbalholic.com which remains one of the beacons in the on-line Jazz drumming community. This forum was a significant motivation for me to do my own thing as well. I first joined this awesome web forum in 2005 and consider it to be an invaluable and informative resource and a wonderful community for anyone who loves cymbals, drums and Jazz drumming.

My intention with Four on the Floor has always been to share various things related to Jazz drumming that inspire me about the art form. Furthermore, I hope that my posts interest other people as much as they excite me and it's my goal to continue to share this information for all to enjoy. At the end of the day, Four on the Floor is my small contribution to making the Jazz drumming community a better place by celebrating all the great things that have come before us, the great things happening today and all the great things we have to look forward to in the future. It's been a really fun ride so far and I sure appreciate all the connections I've made with drummers from all over the world.

Here's a quick shout out to some people who have encouraged me to keep this blog going over the past decade:

Chad Anderson
Adam Nussbaum
John Riley
Matt Wilson
Joe LaBarbera
Jeff Cosgrove
Ted Warren
Conor Guilfoyle
Scott K Fish
Tim Mah

To them, to the many, many others too (you know who you are!) and to all my readers out there I say this: THANK YOU!

Thanks again for all your continued support and here's to another fun ten years of blogging at Four on the Floor!

Onwards & Upwards

Jon McCaslin

Four on the Floor

btw - Hey check out this great unreleased recording of Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins playing as a duet from 1993:

And I almost forgot...to celebrate Four on the Floor's 10th anniversary I will be printing a limited number of commemorative t-shirts (yes, for real!) featuring our hip logo (designed by none other than the Grand Master Cymbalholic himself, Chad Anderson!)

Specific ordering information and details will be made available shortly so please be patient while I sort this out. Shoot me an email at: fouronthefloorblog@gmail and I can keep you updated on what will surely be the fashion trend of the year.

Hurry! Buy now while supplies last!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Igor Willcox

Brazilian drummer, composer and band leader Igor Willcox and his band are touring Canada in April and performing in Calgary on Thursday, April 25th at BuckingJam Palace, Calgary's coolest and hippest new Jazz venue. Learn more about this performance here: www.buckingjampalace.com

In the meantime, Igor was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and his music in advance of their Canadian tour.

Igor Willcox - Four on the Floor Interview April 2019

1) Tell us about your latest recording and touring project!

My last recording is the album Igor Willcox Quartet “Live", released last year (2018). This album features compositions from my first album, released in 2017 and recorded in the studio, plus some tribute songs. This album has received a lot of good reviews in important jazz websites such as All About Jazz.

My touring project, the Igor Willcox Quartet, is a group that I assembled to play the compositions of my first CD, which features original songs. I started this group when I was in the composing process. I called my great friends and amazing musicians Vini Morales (keys), Glecio Nascimento (bass) and Wagner Barbosa (saxophone) to join the group.

We played in the most important Jazz festivals and clubs in Brazil and now we have the happiness to make our first Canadian Tour. Soon after this tour, we will be departing to Europe to play at the North City Jazz Festival, one of the most important jazz festivals of eastern Europe, in Kosovo, on May 18th of 2019.

This project has 3 years of existence and this year we will record a new album with original compositions by myself, Wagner, Vini, and Glecio. Some of these tunes we will be debuting in the Canadian Tour.

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

I gave preference to play our original compositions, but there are some tunes that we have chosen in tribute to our great influences, such as Herbie Hancock, Allan Holdsworth, Joe Henderson, etc. Regarding the musicians, I have chosen people who I identify musically and personally with. Despite the group having my name, I don’t consider the musicians as sidemen, because they are very active in the group and we make decisions together about the arrangements of the songs. I also try to let them be free to express themselves musically. We are a unity!

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did? 

I have always liked listening and also playing with this kind of quartet formation. It allows me to compose in a very creative way, leaving a lot of room for the musicians improvisations. I feel that our interaction is also very constant, we are always talking musically during the sound and it sounds very synergistic.

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

Yes, that the music is a universal language and we try to transmit this in our music. We are always looking for a musical dialogue during the sound, listening to each other and interacting.

5) Who are your influences with regards to this style of writing and playing?

There a lot, but some of my big influences are: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Return To Forever, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

I divided my routine in two ways: Practice piano and drums

- On the piano, I’m currently studying harmony, technique, not with the proposal to play, but to help me in the composition process.

- On the drums: I study everyday exercises for my hands such as the book Master Studies by Joe Morello. I love this book and there are a lot of ways to study it. I study also some new rhythms, coordination stuff focused on things that I have to improve on.

About listening, I’m always listening to all kind of good music, I love to discover new sounds and this influences the music I make.

Today, while I’m answering your questions, I am listening to Uri Caine "Bedrock".

But in the past, I also listened to Joe Zawinul, Allan Pasqua, Sixun, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams Lifetime, Bartok, etc.

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

There is no other current project besides the quartet because I’m totally focused on this project. A lot of good things are happening and I want to be 100% dedicated to the band. I also play and record with artists here in Brazil, from Jazz to pop, but they are not my personal projects, but it’s part of my work as a sideman. That I enjoy a lot as well!

On the go: I have plans to record a new album around July/August

8) How do the drums and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

The drums influences a lot in my compositions. Often, I use some rhythmic ideas to start a composition, before making melodies and harmony. I love to use polyrhythms, beat displacements, etc.

9) What drummers (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

A lot of drummers and musicians, but I will try to list my main influences:

Drummers: Tony Williams, Gary Husband, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Novak, Vinnie Colaiuta, Elvin Jones, Bill Stewart, Robertinho Silva, Adam Nussbaum, Lenny White, Will Kennedy, Billy Cobham, etc…

Other musicians: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Allan Holdsworth, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Joshua Redman, Keith Jarret, Allan Pasqua, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, etc...

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and drummers?

Have always open mind to listen to many different kind of Jazz styles, from the traditional Jazz to fusion. It will give you a deep knowledge and understanding about Jazz.

Try always to play in favor of the music, I mean, think musically, listen to the soloists, the melodies, the harmonies, pay attention to the environment, interact with the musicians you are playing. Live the music every day as if it is part of your life! 


Here's a preview of Willcox and his quartet:

To learn more about Brazilian drummer Igor Willcox and his music, visit his website www.igorwillcox.com

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ed Thigpen on Brushes

A nice piece of brush history, that I haven't seen in awhile, with the legendary Ed Thigpen:

Thigpen's book "The Sound of Brushes" was an important introduction to the world of brush playing for me when I first started out and, needless to say, the man knows a thing or two about playing the brushes!

I had a brief encounter with Thigpen at the 1995 IAJE Conference in Anaheim, California when I was about 18 years old. Ed was manning the Remo booth in the convention hall and minding his own business on a snare drum with a pair of brushes while people walked by. I summoned enough courage to introduce myself and he was very gracious, humble and even offered me a quick two-minute brush lesson. Of course, this all came to a grinding halt as Dave Weckl walked by and Ed lept out of his chair to say hi to Dave!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jeff Ballard en Suisse

A very, very, very VERY special thank you and shout out to Kuert over at cymbalholic.com who was thoughtful enough to capture, post and share his recent hang with Jeff Ballard, shown here playing some really nice cymbals (this is definitely NO joke, ya dig?):

The world really needs MORE of this kind of thing...

Monday, March 25, 2019

Billy Hart & Victor Lewis on Tony Williams

Well, what a pleasant surprise this is! Thank you to Han Verhoeven and all the Jazz drummers out there who found and posted this on Facebook last week. Here's a couple of real Jazz Warriors, Billy Hart and Victor Lewis, speaking on the legacy of Tony Williams:

Billy Hart & Victor Lewis - Jazz Drummers Pt. 1 from Anthony Subietas on Vimeo.

Billy Hart & Victor Lewis - Jazz Drummers Pt. 2 from Anthony Subietas on Vimeo.

As always: When the Masters speak, we listen.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Feet First!

A simple, little exercise today that I call "Feet First!"

The general idea is that you play a quiet, sustained buzz, double or single stroke roll on the snare drum with your hands along with a steady stream of eighth-notes between the bass drum and hi-hat with your feet.

Use the first page of Stick Control to orchestrate these eighth-notes with your feet as follows:

R = Bass Drum

L = Hi-Hat (either as an open "splash" sound or as a tight, closed "chick" sound)

The point of this exercise is to lead things rhythmically with your feet. All to often as drum set players our feet take a backseat to what we are doing with our hands. This is intended to be a simple way to get you thinking about leading with your feet (or from the "bottom up").

I would practice this playing whatever snare drum roll you choose around a piano or mezzoforte dynamic level while the feet should be a solid forte.

Thank you Ted Warren for the inspiration for this one!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Up Close with Ralph Peterson Jr.

A couple of wonderful, up-close and very informative clips of Ralph Peterson Jr. drumming to check out today:

And here's another one, featuring some really great brushwork:

Dig how Peterson isn't afraid to really PLAY the brushes and dig into the drums.

I also really appreciate the fact that Ralph isn't afraid to play a larger set-up, with a reasonably large compliment of drums and cymbals. I've been trying to add more cymbal colours to my regular set-up lately but it requires a heavier hardware bag or an extra trip to the car for the extra stands (!) I've also personally never really been into a two-tom up top tom tom set-up as I find that it messes with my ride cymbal positioning too much (although, I really did try for a period of time!) I will, however, add an extra, larger floor tom to my set-up from time to time (something along the lines of what Bill Stewart frequently does...)

Also, in case you haven't, be sure to check out Peterson's excellent Jazz drumming instructional DVD over at JazzHeaven.com

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Jason Brown & Max Roach's Hollywood Meazzi Drum Kit on Wheels

I thought this was pretty cool. Here's Jason Brown performing a little tribute to Max Roach on Max Roach's very own unique set of Hollywood Meazzi drums (on wheels no less....perhaps to facilitate a quick exit?):

I might consider finding a set of these myself if I can figure out how to install a motor...

Monday, March 11, 2019

Conversations with Louis Hayes

Another great interview from the nice folks over at NYU Steinhardt, this time with legend Louis Hayes:

And in case you need reminding:

As always when the Masters speak, we listen...

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Eric Binder "10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation, Vol.1"

Without a doubt we all need to spend time working on our rudiments and snare drum technique. As I always stress to students in lessons and in workshops, the snare drum rudiments represent an important foundation for what we do as drummers. However, assembling these patterns into practical and meaningful musical phrases can be a stumbling block for many. Books like Anthony Cirone's "Portraits in Rhythm", Charlie Wilcoxin's "Modern Rudimental Swing Solos and methods from the likes of Alan Dawson go a long way to address this. However, given the solutions that already exist, further resources are always welcome as well.

Fortunately for us, Eric Binder is releasing a new book of snare drum etudes (the first of many, from the looks of it) and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his recent book. Check it out!

Eric Binder - The Four on the Floor Interview
"10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation, Vol.1"
March 2019

1) Tell us all about your book! What is it all about and what are the goals of your text?

This is a snare drum etude book that uses rudimental jazz vocabulary to create snare drum solos meant to begin students on their journey to gaining greater facility necessary to improvise in a jazz setting. This is the first book of the series so it is approachable for any drummer. In the later volumes, there will be more dense jazz vocabulary in the style of Philly Joe, Art Blakey, and many others.

2) What was the motivation and inspiration for putting together this method?

My motivation for this book was mainly my students and conversations I’ve had with other teachers. One of the most common things I get asked is, “I learned my rudiments, now what do I do with them?” My first response is always directing them to records, but so few students really LISTEN and actually take away what’s going on. In my etude book, I give students phrases using common rudiments. As you will see when playing these etudes, much of the rudimental ideas are just common jazz vocabulary reminiscent of Elvin Jones, Baby Dodds, Roy Haynes and others.

3) How does your book differ from other snare drum method books currently on the market? What makes it unique?

My “go to” snare books are Modern Rudimental Swing Solos (Wilcoxon) and Portraits in Rhythm (Cirone). I also use Smitty’s Rudimental Ritual. While these books are absolutely incredible and invaluable, most students seem unable to connect the material to improvising on the drum set. I feel that my approach to writing these etudes and the ways I direct students to play them make my method different.

4) How do you recommend students and teachers approach working through your materials?

The first thing for students to do is learn the material at the marked tempi. Some of these etudes can be quite challenging if you don’t have your hands together. I say it for this book, but I ALWAYS say it - PLAY WITH A METRONOME. Students should first play through with the click on all four beats, then just two and four, then one click per measure, and eventually one click every two bars. These etudes are best utilized when playing them with hi-hat on two and four and bass drum “feathering” all four beats. They really feel like a “solo” at that point.

5) What are some of the challenges of putting together a drum method book? What advice do you have for anybody potentially interested in publishing their own book?

Putting together any major work whether it be a method book, composition, or thesis is a major undertaking. There are so many small steps that people do not realize, and each step must be precisely executed. Luckily, this past year I just completed my dissertation which prepared me for the task of writing this method. It is a learning process still and I have already begun work on other book projects.

To anyone looking to publish, I suggest reaching out to someone who has published before. Thankfully I had some wonderful insight from saxophonist Adam Larson. There are just so many idiosyncrasies about publishing a book.


To learn more about Eric's new book, visit his website or email him directly at ericbinderx@gmail.com

Monday, March 4, 2019

Roy Brooks

An informative interview from 1989 with Roy Brooks, a prolific Jazz drummer who performed and recorded with the likes of Horace Silver, Sonny Stitt, Yusef Lateef, Dexter Gordon, Barry Harris, Blue Mitchell and Max Roach's M'Boom:

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Billy Drummond on Brushes

A short one today but this is a highly significant example from Jazz great Billy Drummond, demonstrating how to play a ballad with the brushes, using the melody of the standard "Laura" as a musical vehicle:

Drummond's brush strokes are beautiful and he creates a nice big, full and flowing sound...but his method of using the melody while playing is a nice reminder that "if you can sing it...you can play it!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The New Drum Battle!

Oh! Looks like Kenny Washington and Joe Farnsworth are at it again!

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back and thanks for checking in for what is the very first Monday Morning Paradiddle column of 2019. Incidentally, this coming spring will represent the 10th anniversary of Four on the Floor. Holy smokes! We're still here! Anyways, as per usual, here's an assortment of interesting things to check out:

- Several great articles on the late, great Alvin Fielder (1935-2019) including:

  • A piece from NPR on Fielder and Joseph Jarman

- Dig this! An extensive audio interview with Kenny Clarke

As always, when the Masters speak, we listen!

- Ed Soph and Johnny Vidacovich both interviewed over at the Contraption Podcast

- Kate Gentile talks about her recent album release over at the Greenleaf Music podcast

- Ted Panken interviews Jeff Tain Watts with a "Before & After" listening session and another one from JazzTimes magazine

- Ralph Peterson Jr. interviewed by Neon Jazz:

- Pablo Held "investigates" Peter Erskine:

- A short, but quick AND spirited drum solo from Johnathan Blake:

- The Late Show's Joe Saylor with pianist Emmet Cohen:

- Lewis Nash reminds us all how to play a ballad (pay attention now everyone!):

- A very special thank you to Ted Warren, via his fine blog Trap'd, for finding this awesome, recent BBC documentary on the history of the drums, hosted by Stewart Copeland:

- And check out these cool George Way drums (and great drumming!) as played by Vancouver's Jesse Cahill:

- What am I listening to these days?

Terri Lyne Carrington "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue" - Terri Lyne Carrington (drums)

Kirk MacDonald "The Atlantic Sessions" - Jerry Fuller (drums)

The Herbie Nichols Project "Strange City" - Matt Wilson (drums)

Kurt Rosenwinkel "Reflections" - Eric Harland (drums)

Dexter Gordon "Doin' Alright" - Al Harewood (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to Anthony Tidd (via vibraphonist Joel Ross) over at the Facebook:

"Seven Steps to Solving Most Musicianship Issues"

If you are not good at something and, if you wish to improve, you should:

1) Identify said thing.

2) Admit that you are not good at said thing, and dispense with all ego.

3) Find somebody that is great at said thing.

4) If you can take lessons from this person or spend time around this person, do. If not, make a serious study of this person and the thing that you want to learn, using whatever means are at your disposal.

5) Practice incessantly.

6) Practice some more.

7) Repeat.

- Anthony Tidd, via Facebook (February 2019)

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Four on the Floor "Keep the Form!" Challenge

A simple conceptual exercise today, inspired by a lesson I took with Carl Allen many years ago and from Todd Bishop's recent blog post on playing music with "odd" forms. Check out his insightful commentary here.

Basically the above idea is an exercise that involves keeping the form while alternating between playing measures of Time and then improvising on the drums for a pre-determined number of bars. It's also an exercise in becoming comfortable with "odd" phrase lengths as well as shorter ones.

So here's the basic routine:

1) Choose a Time Signature (ie. 4/4, 3/4, 5/4, 12/8, etc.)

2) Pick a Style (Swing, Afro-Cuban, ECM, etc.)

3) Choose a Tempo (slower is always better!)

4) Play Time for the first section, then solo/improvise over the second half. Repeat. Then go on to the next one

5) The idea is that you are free to play whatever you want in each section BUT the form (ie. the number of measures in each section) and tempo must be clear and respected at all times

A few other variations:

- Trying changing the time signature every time you reach a new section

- Stick with one phrase length for the timekeeping sections but cycle through the lengths of the solo sections (ie. 8-8, 8-7, 8-6, 8-5, etc.)

- Mix up the order in which you play each section

- It is advisable to plan these routines out in advance and maybe even write them down such as I did for reference (ie. a road map!)

- Once you are comfortable with each phrase length and the transitions between them, challenge yourself to play over-the-barline phrases within each section.

- Be creative and have fun. Challenge yourself

Anyways, it's not rocket science but I find little games like this really help me break out of my usual vocabulary. Personally I find it can be a bit cold to play like this without any melodic reference or framework but it IS a good exercise in sharpening one's concentration skills and overall attention to phrasing (a tune like Victor Feldman's "Joshua", made famous by Miles Davis and his quintet, comes to mind...)

I also suggest recording yourself while practicing this, listening back afterwards for the clarity and definition of each section. Imagine that you are the saxophone player in the band, listening patiently to the drum solo and anxiously wondering when you need to come back in with the melody!