Thursday, December 3, 2020

Joe Farnsworth on Playing Ballads with Brushes Part 2

Joe Farnsworth is back with more beautiful brushwork and ballad patterns, this time inspired by the likes of Louis Hayes, Vernel Fournier, Idris Muhammad, Roy Haynes and Jimmy Lovelace:

This video (and his previous one...) are SO important! Drummer's all too often take playing ballads for granted and just "stir the soup", get on with it and phone it in until the next (faster!) tune is counted off.

There is so much beauty in the subtleties and nuances that playing with brushes offers and, as Joe so eloquently demonstrates, playing a ballad is no different.

I don't think you'll find these patterns in a book, studying recordings will certainly help in terms of capturing the sound but since many of Masters are now gone, we are lucky to have someone share with us these brush patterns and choreography that he learned from the source (Adam Nussbaum and Steve Smith's The Art of Playing with Brushes is another good resource to check out too for that same reason).

Thanks Joe!

Oh yes, I almost forgot....this is a beautiful clip of Max Roach demonstrating his own ballad brushwork, from an Italian masterclass that recently appeared on the YouTube, all while singing the lyrics to the standard "I Love You":

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Four-Limbed Monster!

Max Roach once referred to the drum set as being the "Four-Limbed Monster", speaking to the coordination and independence skills required to play it (and yes, I realize that the animation above depicts a drumming octopus who definitely has more than four limbs!)

Anyways, I've got a long and evolving list of things I've been practicing since the pandemic hit last March and I thought I would share with you a concept that I've been having fun with lately.

One of the goals as a drummer should be, in my opinion, to achieve a certain sense of unity and balance between all parts of the drum set. This is often easier said than done!

These are a couple of comping exercises that I've been messing around with. These have helped me towards developing a deeper sense of time and a unified sense of 4-way coordination.

Play both of these examples with the standard ride cymbal beat:

Exercise #1

Exercise #2

Rhythmically, both of these phrases are a series of syncopated, poly-rhythmic eighth-note figures that create an over-the-bar-line loop. This is challenging enough on its own, playing these figures with just one limb against the ride cymbal beat (for what's it's worth, this eighth-note figure was inspired by some Alan Dawson concepts I came across. You should practice this too!) but my exercise splits the rhythm in a sequence between the snare, bass drum and hi-hat.

The order of the orchestration between the snare, bass drum and hi-hat isn't by accident either and intentionally by design. I won't spoil it for you so play through these two examples and see if you can figure out the logic of each pattern.

I've also found this to be a helpful way to incorporate the hi-hat into my comping phrases (i.e. Roy Haynes).

Play it slow.

Balance the limbs dynamically.

Use a metronome.

Relax and strive for a sense of flow.

Make it swing!

* If you have any questions please let me know!*

** If you might be interested in taking a lesson with me and learn about more exercises and concepts such as these and more, drop me a line and we'll connect!!**

*** Don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list on the right hand side of the page!!!***

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Cindy Blackman Santana

I was recently reading about Cindy Blackman Santana's latest album release "Give the Drummer Some!" in the pages of Jazz Times magazine this month. It seems like every November they like to feature drummers in particular and I think this is just fantastic (in fact, it's one of the very few magazines in print that I actually buy anymore. I can't even find a place to purchase a physical copy of Modern Drummer these days!)

Anyways, it was a great feature, I really look forward to hearing her new music and this also prompted me to dig around a bit and see what she's been up to these days.

The first time I heard Cindy play was actually in a short segment from a documentary about Art Blakey in which she was playing drums, subbing for Bu, in a rehearsal with the Jazz Messengers. While it was brief, it was swinging! Fast forward to the mid-90's when I first heard her band play at the Salle de Gesu in Montreal and I was completely blown away and unprepared for the power and energy that she played with. I've been a fan ever since!

Here's a few pieces featuring this wonderful musician:

- A recent interview and feature from PBS NewsHour:

- A solo feature from the 2020 DRUMEO Festival:

- And finally, I've really been digging this ongoing series of videos from the Drum Compilations YouTube channel (and will likely share more of these featuring other drummers in the future!) Here's Cindy's latest compilation:

Monday, November 23, 2020

Joe LaBarbera at Pro Drum Shop

Today's post features the great Joe LaBarbera, a fantastic drummer, overall musician, selfless teacher and a wonderful human being. This piece was filmed at the Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood, California:

I've really been digging the Pat LaBarbera/Kirk MacDonald album Trane of Thought lately, a tribute to the music of John Coltrane which features Joe on drums.

Pat and Kirk have been leading an annual birthday tribute to Coltrane at The Rex in Toronto for a long time now (20+ years?) Unfortunately it didn't happen this year for obvious reasons but I was happy to see that this project was finally documented when it was released last year.

I really appreciate the intensity with which Joe plays on this album, keeping the energy up and the engine fires stoked all without overplaying (in my experience, it's all too easy to get caught up in the energy in musical situations like this so you've got to be mindful to listen carefully and play the "long game" so to speak...) Joe's drumming on this album is a great lesson in musical accompaniment.

When Joe plays, it's all about the music, all the time!

*Hey don't forget to subscribe to my e-mail list on the right hand side of this page!*

Thursday, November 19, 2020

FOLI (there is no movement without rhythm)

I shared this one several years ago (10 years ago in fact!) but I keep on returning to it and find it compelling and inspiring. This short film also comes up in conversation from time to time with several of my colleagues in the dance world so I figured I would share this once again.


 "Life has a rhythm, it's constantly moving.

The word for rhythm (used by the Malinke tribes) is FOLI. 

It is a word that encompasses so much more than drumming, dancing or sound. 

It's found in every part of daily life. 

In this film you not only hear and feel rhythm but you see it. 

It's an extraordinary blend of image and sound that 

feeds the senses and reminds us all how essential it is." 

- Thomas Roeber

*Hey don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list on the right hand side of the page for regular blog post updates!*

Monday, November 16, 2020

Terri Lyne Carrington

*Just a minor piece of housekeeping now that I've got your attention: I have added a SUBSCRIBE option on the right hand side of this page. Just enter your e.mail address (I promise not to spam you!) and you'll receive regular updates via Mailchimp in your Inbox whenever I publish a new blog post (isn't technology grand?) Stay connected and don't miss out!*

Anyways, now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

As I was reviewing my monthly Monday Morning Paradiddle column from a few weeks ago, I was prompted to revisit Terri Lyne Carrington's incredible Grammy award-winning album Money Jungle: Provocation in Blue.

Here is a live performance of her Money Jungle project, interpreted by Carrington and her band (this music was originally recorded in 1962 featuring Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus):


As you'll recall, she also recently received the prestigious NEA Jazz Masters award and is the director of the Berklee College of Music Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

To say the least, Carrington is an important figure and a leader in jazz today!

This also led me to spend some time listening to her latest work with her project Social Science and, of course, discovered a ton of other great videos and such as well.

Here's a few articles to check out:

- An interview with Heather Bambrick from Jazz.FM91

- A Q&A from her recent residency last March at McGill University

- Earlier 2019 pieces from the New York Times and Downbeat Magazine

And here's a few other great, recent pieces: 

- Terri Lyne with pianist Danilo Perez from a recent collaboration, featuring students from the Berklee College of Music:


- An NPR Tiny Desk concert featuring her current band Social Science:


And here's a few older ones that I quite enjoyed and learned a great deal from: 

- Carrington's 2016 Tedx Talk entitled I am the Drums:


- My friend and tenor saxophonist Phil Dwyer recorded with Terri Lyne a number of years ago and spoke very highly of this session in particular:


- And finally, a fun and informative piece from the nice folks over at the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Kenny Clarke - The Birth of Bebop

Thank you to Bret Primack for sharing this 1970 Danish television interview with Kenny Clarke:


As per usual, when the Masters speak...we listen.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Andrew Cyrille Solo and More! *revisited*

 I've really been enjoying Andrew Cyrille's solo works of late and this took me down a bit of an internet rabbit-hole (which is always a good thing!) I find Cyrille's drumming to be very compelling and since I've been playing a lot of solo drums on my own these days (while also playing with records, play-a-longs, loops, the metronome, etc.) I've taken a lot of inspiration from Cyrille's musical approach to dealing with the drums on their own (and of course I will say the same about his playing with others as well...I was also really inspired by a recent trio set featuring Joe Lovano and Ben Street, live-streamed from the Village Vanguard).

I've shared a few of these items before but for my own sake and interest, here they are again plus some others. 

Anyways, here's a few pieces that inspired me lately:



And here are a series of articles and interviews worth reading:

- Jazz Times Magazine features Andrew Cyrille: Art & Science Part 1 Part 2

- An interview with Dave Douglas from the Greenleaf Music Podcast

- A 2016 New York Times article written by Nate Chinen

- A duet between Andrew Cyrille & Victor Lewis (this is amazing!)

- Cyrille remembers Cecil Taylor


Cyrille's discography is quite extensive to say the least (!) so I asked my friend and Toronto drummer Nick Fraser for a few of his suggestions. 

Nick was kind enough to take some time to consider my inquiry and here is what he had to offer via e.mail (thanks Nick!):

"Andrew Cyrille: One of the most consistent artists in jazz. I've never heard him play on a bad record. 

Here are a few of my faves:

The Hawk Relaxes - Coleman Hawkins

A mostly ballad session that might be Cyrille's debut recording. Not a typical record of his, and there are a few of those early in his career.  Bill Barron's Hot Line with Booker Ervin is another.

The records with Walt Dickerson. He recorded many with this under-appreciated vibraphonist. I've been looking for the vinyl of this one, but haven't found it.

Anything with him and Cecil Taylor. 

Sunny Murray and Tony Oxley also played on some classic Cecil, but I really think that Andrew had a touch and ear for Cecil's music that remained unmatched. 

Jimmy Lyons' Other Afternoons is another Cecil-adjacent album that has some great Cyrille on it.

Leroy Jenkins: Space Minds New Worlds, Survival of America and John Carter's Castles of Ghana. These records are masterpieces.


Carla Bley: European Tour 1977. Interesting to hear him play some large(ish) ensemble music.

I almost forgot my very fave! Burnt Offering (duo w. Jimmy Lyons)"

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Quincy Davis - Q Vision

Quincy Davis, Assistant Professor of Drum Set at the University of North Texas, recently released his latest musical offering Q Vision.

These are challenging times to say the least and my hat is off to all those artists who have chosen to release their new music in the face of our current circumstances. Despite the fact that the usual means for artists to perform, tour and promote their music in person have pretty much vanished (for now...) I still think there is tremendous significance in what these artists are offering and I think it takes a lot of courage to do so. In times of adversity we need these artists, such as Quincy, who are standing up, leading by example and offering us a sense of hope. When I hear compelling new music these days, such as Q Vision, I am inspired and reminded that "this too shall pass" and that we have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to.

With that in mind, I am reminded of this quote:

"Music is medicine!"

- Ra Kalam Bob Moses

I've always been a big fan of Quincy's drumming and of his original music. Quincy has played as a side person with many jazz greats over the years and I think this has really informed his own personal approach as a band leader and as a composer. He brings together a lot of different modern influences to his music while also still deeply rooted in the tradition.

Quincy was kind enough to take some time out of his busy teaching schedule at UNT to answer a few questions about his music (thank you Quincy!):

Quincy Davis Interview - Four on the Floor November 2020

1) Tell us about your latest recording! How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen? What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did? Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

For Q Vision, I wanted to move away from the vibraphone/sax quintet configuration of my first album (Songs in the Key of Q). But I did not want to completely abandon the quintet sound because I love it so much. So I decided to have both configurations on this album.

The music is all original music that I wrote specifically for this album and with these wonderful musicians in mind. I wanted to write music that was “easy on the ears” yet engages the brain, is fun to play and contains various aesthetics of the blues. I am always trying find the perfect balance of these elements. All of the musicians on this album are musicians who play with both intelligence and a lot of heart and soul. These traits are very important to me when considering someone for my band.

Q Vision is all about having vision of many different perspectives all at the same time: The drummer’s vision of their instrument, musician’s vision of music as a whole, vision from the music enthusiast’s perspective and vision and consciousness of things that are happening to people in the world.

2) Who are your influences, on and off the drums, and why?

My biggest influences include Billy Hart, Gregory Hutchinson, Bill Stewart, Philly Joe Jones, Carl Allen, Ed Blackwell, Dave Weckl and Clyde Stubblefield. All of these musicians are grounded in the tradition while playing in a very forward-leaning manner. Tradition is extremely important to me but I never want to be stuck only playing in that way. Jazz is ever evolving and I want to evolve with it. In addition, European classical music from the romantic and 20th century periods have influenced my overall perspective of music and composition quite a lot.

3) What are you practicing and listening to these days?

I’m doing a lot of metronome displacement exercises to improve my natural sense of time and pulse. My listening skills and ability to stay aware of what’s going on with the time and feel are also strongly challenged when doing these exercises.

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

The biggest future project that I am working on is a method book. I am hoping to have a book come out in 2021. This book will incorporate many of the concepts I have been using in my teaching for the past 10 years. It will also be used as a part of the University of North Texas drum set curriculum. 

5) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz drummers?

If you want to play jazz professionally, understand today’s jazz drummer needs to be able to play many different styles comfortably so listen to as much music as possible. Also, study and KNOW the history of the instrument and the music. You can’t learn that stuff on Instagram!

To learn more about Quincy and check out his music visit his website www.quincydavisjazz.com

Quincy has also been quite busy with his ongoing YouTube channel, offering great lessons in his always informative Q-Tip series:

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - November 2020

Well, it's been a minute since our last monthly column. Welcome back, thanks for checking in and I hope you are all keeping safe out there.

Fortunately, despite the challenges of our current circumstances, many great musicians are still doing and sharing really great things on-line these days. If so inclined, there is no lack of really great resources to learn from out there. I'd encourage all of you to take advantage of these opportunities and support those artists who are trying to make the best of the situation.

Onwards & Upwards!

Anyways, here's a collection of items, old and new, that have been making the rounds lately and caught my attention:

1. Hey look I now have a proper website! Thanks to Andrew Millar who did a fantastic job putting this together. You can click on the link on the sidebar on the upper right hand side of this page or visit: www.jonmccaslin.com (btw Four on the Floor will be staying right here but you'll be able to access it through my website as well...)

If you need someone to put together a website for you, I can't recommend Andrew highly enough and you can reach him through his own website www.andrewmillardrums.com.

Oh yeah, Andrew is a pretty mean drummer himself (as you'll see below) and he was always one of my favourite drummers to listen to during my brief time in living in Toronto (2007-2009): 


2. Russ Gleason and Neal Wilkinson are doing really great things over at Drum Hangs, presenting weekly Zoom webinars with the world's greatest drummers. These are really well curated and I'm consistently impressed with the drummers who are invited and the discussions that take place. Some of the great drummers they have featured so far include the likes of Jeff Hamilton, John Riley, Adam Nussbaum, Bill Stewart, Martin France, Zildjian's Paul Francis, Mark Guiliana, Steve Gadd, Simon Phillips, Ed Soph, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Erskine, Johnathan Blake and many, many others.

Upcoming sessions include guests such as Ari Hoenig, Bernard Purdie, Jeff Tain Watts, James Gadson, Kenny Washington and Antonio Sanchez so don't miss out on these opportunities to virtually rub shoulders with these Masters and ask them questions.

Thank you Russ and Neal and keep up the great work!

3. Anders Mogensen has been offering great things to practice with his Weekly Drum Diary project. Check that out here and sign up for his mailing list to receive weekly lessons in .pdf with examples posted on YouTube.

Anders always has interesting and challenging exercises to offer!

4. Check out these recent JAZZ.FM91 Session Notes features with Ted Warren and Morgan Childs, two more really great jazz drummers from Toronto that I always enjoy listening to.

5. Jazz Profiles features the great Frankie Dunlop, an underrated drummer (in my humble opinion) and someone all jazz drummers need to study.

6. A series of articles from pianist Ethan Iverson on rhythm and jazz drumming:

Hands and Feet

Rhythmic Folklore

And be sure to read his interviews with Billy Hart, Albert Tootie Heath, Mickey Roker and Steve Little.

7. A "Before & After" listening session with Johnathan Blake from JazzTimes Magazine.

8. And also from JazzTimes, a cover story on Jeff Hamilton (check out Jeff's latest album "Catch Me If You Can")

9. Noah Becker interviews Rodney Green for Becker's Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.

10. Edu Ribeiro from Open Studio has been offering a wonderful weekly Q&A session with a host of great drummers (Edu is a really great drummer himself!)

It was really great to hear Edu's interview with Ignacio Berroa:

And here's his recent session with John Riley:

And speaking of John Riley, I've really been enjoying his series of cymbal features with Zildjian's Paul Francis, from the nice folks over at the Memphis Drum Shop.

Here's a recent spotlight with Paul Francis and John Riley on the history of Zildjian cymbals:

11. Congratulations to Terri Lyne Carrington who was recently named an NEA Jazz Master! 

Here is a recent interview with Carrington, from Pablo Held:

12. Matt Wilson was featured in this Jazz Times piece by Nate Chinen and he also offered this liberating drum lesson in 2019.

Here is a recent interview on his latest musical offering "Hug":

13. Rudy Royston interviewed by The Drum Shuffle:

14. Joe Farnsworth on his latest album "It's Time to Swing!": 

15. A wonderful duet featuring Jeff Ballard and Gilad Hekselman on Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home": 

16. Peter Magadini in a solo spot with Slide Hampton, recorded live in Toronto at Bourbon Street circa. 1978:

17. An interview with the prolific Trilok Gurtu:

18. Here's a great duet with Milford Graves and Joe Lovano!

19. Many thanks to Travis Knights who shared this Max Roach interview with Ben Sidran: 

And thank you Benny Green for sharing via Facebook this rare 1953 recording of Max Roach with Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, Bud Powell and George Duvivier:

20. The University of North Texas offers this informative 10 Questions Plus+ Zoom session with veteran jazz great Roy McCurdy:

21. Here's Jeff Tain Watts on Giant Steps!

22. Chad Anderson remembers the late, great Alvin Fielder:

23. Jason Marsalis continues with his One Man Drums Show, this time with a piece entitled "Bench Brush Battle", inspired by his brush jams with Adonis Rose:

24. Thank you to the great bassist Ron Carter who offers these thoughts on what it was like to know and play with Elvin Jones:

25. Dig this: Alan Dawson playing the vibraphone while Joe Farrell plays the drums and it's killing! 

26. What am I listening to these days?

Neil Swainson "49th Parallel" - Jerry Fuller (drums)

Andrew Cyrille "What About?" and "The Loop" - Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Chick Webb "The King of the Drums" - Chick Webb (drums)

Dave Robbins Electric Band "Zap!" - Dave Robbins (drums)

Owen Howard "Drum Lore Vol.2: More Lore" - Owen Howard (drums)

The North "Plays the Music of Kenny Wheeler" - Anders Mogensen (drums)

Bobby Hutcherson "Mosaic Select" (box set) - Eddie Marshall (drums)

Eli Fountain "Percussion Discussion"


27. And today's Final Word(s) go to Joe Lovano...

(who incidentally, is an accomplished drummer himself!)

"I don't play free jazz, I play jazz free!"

- Joe Lovano (via Matt Wilson)

... and MAX ROACH!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Joe Farnsworth on Playing Ballads

Joe Farnsworth takes a moment to talk about and demonstrate an important topic that is all too often neglected in the realm of jazz drumming these days: how to play a ballad! 

In this video Joe takes us through several unique approaches to playing a ballad with a pair of brushes, inspired by the likes of Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Art Taylor, Albert Tootie Heath, Connie Kay and Max Roach:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Dewey Redman & Matt Wilson Duo - 5th House 1996

A big thank you to Jeff Lederer who recently shared this VHS footage of a 1996 duet performance, recorded at the 5th House performance space in Brooklyn, featuring tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman and Matt Wilson on drums.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Shawn Mativetsky - RUDIMENTAAL Pieces for Snare Drum Inspired by the Tabla Drumming of North India

I am always excited when I hear about a new book on the topic of rudimental drumming. As someone who was initially introduced to the drums and percussion via rudimental drum line culture, I'm always interested to see what creative applications and variations people are coming up with. Admittedly, it's sometimes hit or miss (!) but many percussionists these days are coming up with some very imaginative and creative uses of the PAS 40 for us to consider.

With that in mind, Shawn Mativetsky's RUDIMENTAAL Pieces for Snare Drum Inspired by the Tabla Drumming of North India recently caught my attention and it's impressive. In this book Shawn has taken rhythmic concepts from North Indian tabla drumming and applied them to the snare drum rudiments.

I first met Shawn during my first week as a student at McGill University back in 1995 and even back then I recognized what an incredible talent and devoted student of rhythm he was. He's put together a great study here and I encourage anyone who is interested in expanding their knowledge of rhythm and applications of rudimental patterns to check it out.

To learn more about Shawn and his book, visit his website (also check out his page for some fantastic videos where he demonstrates various North Indian rhythmic concepts and applications) and you can order his book through Liquidrum.

Shawn was nice enough to take some time out of his schedule to answer a few questions about his publication:

Shawn Mativetsky - RUDIMENTAAL Pieces for Snare Drum Inspired by the Tabla Drumming of North India - October 2020

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

RUDIMENTAAL is a collection of rudimental snare drum pieces, inspired by the tabla drumming of North India. My aim with this text is to provide a gateway into North Indian drumming for drummers and percussionists from all backgrounds. In addition to the pieces contained in this text, are explanations of the solo tabla form and the repertoire of which it is comprised, along with exercises and études in order to further develop one’s understanding of the compositional forms, rhythmic devices, and performance practices of this rich musical tradition. My hope is that readers will enjoy this exploration of Indian rhythm, and like me, get absolutely hooked and travel further down the rabbit hole, so to speak.

In RUDIMENTAAL, the repertoire is presented in a way similar to how one might learn tabla. First, one learns various compositions from the repertoire as separate items. Each item can be seen as an étude, or a short concert piece for performance. Once enough repertoire is learned, one can then connect the various compositions together to create a fully-formed solo. There are a number of compositions provided, along with instructions for how to piece them together, allowing for numerous possible permutations in coming up with your own solo snare drum performance. Essentially, you can design your own piece based on your repertoire preferences, and the form can expand and contract to suit whatever duration you have in mind.

Through RUDIMENTAAL, my aim is to provide insight and understanding of North Indian rhythm, including the concepts of taal (rhythmic cycles), tihai (rhythmic cadences), layakari (rhythmic density), strategies for improvisation of variations on a theme, and how to apply the tabla solo form to snare drum. In notating all the compositions for snare drum, it required me to simplify the compositions down to their bare essence - the soul of each composition - making the motives and structures clear. Due to this, drummers, composers, and all musicians in general, should be able to expand these ideas further, and apply them to the drum kit and to many other musical contexts.

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

I know that many people are fascinated by the tabla and Indian classical music, however often tend to be intimidated by the complexity of the music and the many years of study required to play an instrument such as the tabla. With RUDIMENTAAL, I hope to create a bridge between the Indian and Western music traditions, so that more musicians outside of the Indian classical tradition can gain some understanding of this rich, beautiful tradition.  Much as the tabla is the principal percussion instrument of the North Indian classical tradition, the snare drum is likewise central to the Western percussion tradition, and so this transposition of repertoire from one to the other makes a lot of sense to me, and comes quite naturally. In this way, drummers and percussionists can approach North Indian rhythm on an instrument that is familiar to them. My hope is that RUDIMENTAAL can help drummers, and musicians in general, to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the tabla and North Indian rhythm, and begin to apply some of the concepts in their personal musical practice.

3) How do you recommend students and teachers approach working through this?

As previously mentioned, the repertoire is presented in a way similar to how one learns tabla. Each of the pieces in RUDIMENTAAL can be performed as separate works, or can be joined together to create a larger form. First, there are some introductory exercises centred around counting taal with the hands, and speaking bols of the theka (timekeeping pattern) and some tihais (rhythmic cadences). I have provided videos of these on my rudimentaal.com website in order to assist with this process. After one has integrated these foundational concepts, one can move on to learning the compositions.

Tabla players do a lot of repetitive practice, looping phrases and compositions over and over until they are fully integrated in terms of memorization, technique, tone, and musicality. I strongly recommend taking this approach, going item by item, repeating as many times as necessary to fully integrate the materials, before moving on to the next, and before attempting a run-through as notated. If there are challenging phrases, isolate those phrases and repeat as many times as necessary.

My Guru, Pandit Sharda Sahai-ji, would often say, “Practice one million times, perform once.” This illustrates the work ethic and level of preparedness required.

For the kaidas, which are theme-and-variation compositions, it is a good idea to try to follow the logic of the variations. This will help with the musical flow, but also in understanding what is actually going on, musically, which will allow for these concepts to be applied to other musical contexts outside of the book. In order to assist with this, I've provided a full analysis of KAIDA 1 in RUDIMENTAAL.

One could work through the repertoire in the book in order, treating each short piece as an etude or short performance, or, one could join these together in a specific way in order to form a larger solo performance. Detailed instructions for this are provided in the text, but essentially, the tabla solo form is flexible - as long as we have an introduction, development, and conclusion, the solo can last 5 minutes, or 5 hours! In the case of RUDIMENTAAL, perhaps 5 minutes to 30 minutes with the repertoire provided.

There are also three complete standalone pieces included, which are significantly longer.

4) What future book projects do you have in mind?

RUDIMENTAAL is still quite fresh off the presses, so I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I can definitely imagine a ‘Volume 2’, expanding the concepts further, introducing new repertoire, different taals, and further strategies for improvisation.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Dana Hall's Inner Dialogue: Sound & Semiosis

Check out this great solo set from Chicago's Dana Hall, presented by the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, recorded outdoors on a nice sunny day earlier this summer, underneath a big green tree:

And from the same series, here's a duet featuring Dana Hall with tenor saxophonist Geof Bradfield:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Adonis Rose "Piece of Mind - Live at Blue LLama"

New Orleans drummer and composer Adonis Rose recently released his latest album of music on the Storyville label, recorded live at the Blue LLama jazz club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Check out his Bandcamp page to download his album here and learn more about Rose's music on Storyville's website: https://www.storyvillerecords.com/products/piece-of-mind

This album was welcome news here at Four on the Floor. Back in the early 2000s while I was still living in Montreal, I really enjoyed listening to and learning from Rose's albums and dynamic drumming on the Criss Cross label on a regular basis: The Unity, Song for Donise and On The Verge.

Adonis was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest recording project (check it out!):

Adonis Rose Interview - Four on the Floor October 2020

1) Tell us about your latest recording! How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen? What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did? Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

Piece of Mind - Live at the Blue LLama is my first live recording as a leader. It was a project that was on my mind to do for a while and finally came to fruition through my partnerships with Storyville Records and Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, MI. I chose a quintet with trumpet and saxophone because that configuration and sound have been constant throughout my career in the various bands that I’ve performed with. I first played with Terence Blanchard, and then had a ten-year tenure with the Nicholas Payton Quintet. I have also played in the bands of great singers such as Kurt Elling, Nnenna Freelon, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, so I wanted to include a vocalist on this recording. I think everything came full circle for me with this project. It is a feel-good record that takes the listener on a musical journey through great times, various styles, and unique instrumentation.

2) Who are your influences, on and off the drums, and why?

When it comes to drummers who have influenced me, I would have to include almost everyone I’ve listened to and studied with so far. My favorites are Baby Dodds, Papa Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Joe Chambers, Jack DeJohnette, James Black, Herlin Riley, Shannon Powell, Billy Kilson, Lewis Nash, and many others.

My non-drummer influencers include so many people that I wouldn’t have enough time to mention all of them! Life is very interesting and has a way of influencing you gradually and unexpectedly. 

Wynton Marsalis has always been a huge influence for me, and he seems to be now more than ever. His relentless passion and pursuit of educating and promoting jazz around the world is unmatched. His ability to lead a large cultural institution for decades while maintaining the ability to perform and compose on a high level has been very inspiring to me, especially now that I have to run an institution and am an artist at the same time.

George Wein has changed my perspective on what it means to be an artist and the importance of dreaming big. I’ve been reading his autobiography, which is very informative. He is clearly an innovator, and the book helps me realize that thinking outside of the box and understanding jazz as a business is vital for artists. His story is incredible, and his accomplishments have immensely impacted our industry.

3) What are you practicing and listening to these days?

I have to admit that it has been difficult to practice consistently during the pandemic. Having so much uncertainty and death has caused the world to be very dark at times. I’m sure many musicians are dealing with periods of ups and downs and are looking for inspiration wherever they can find it. I have always practiced the basics to maintain consistency. Touring helps with this. I still practice my rudiments because it would be almost impossible to achieve what I hear on the drum set without that. I’ve also been composing music, planning tours and concerts for next year, and finishing new recording projects.

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

I am actually in the studio right now, starting a new recording project that will be released late next year. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a new project with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which features Cyrille Aimee that we are planning to release sometime in 2021. As Artistic Director of NOJO, I curate concerts, develop educational programming, and create opportunities for our orchestra members year-round.

5) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz drummers?

Be the best musician that you can be every time you get behind the drum kit. Educate yourself about harmony and melody to influence and advance musical situations that you are involved in. Learn about the music business and aspire to be a leader. Listen and be patient. Welcome constructive criticism and always be your biggest critic.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Matt Wilson on Melodic Drumming

During the Spring of 2011 I traveled to New York City and interviewed many of the world's greatest jazz drummers, soliciting their thoughts and opinions on the concept of "Melodic Drumming". This information formed the nucleus of my doctoral dissertation that I completed through the University of Toronto in 2015 (you can check that out here). 

All the drummers that I interviewed were very generous with their time and information including my good friend Matt Wilson. I've known Matt for many years and I very was fortunate to study with him for a period of time in 2004 thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

I was rummaging through an old hard drive the other day and came across these videos, taken in Matt's basement, of him demonstrating some of his approaches to dealing with melody on the drums.

The clips are brief and somewhat incomplete as most of the commentary is missing (!) however, it is what it is and I think his drumming speaks for itself.

Anyways, here is what I have and I hope you dig it (thank you Matt for allowing me to share these!)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

John Riley's Vintage Cymbal Collection

Thanks to the nice folks over at the Memphis Drum Shop here is an interesting four-part series in which John Riley demonstrates his collection of vintage cymbals. Take note as there are lots of great sounds and information to be found here for sure:

Monday, October 5, 2020

Art Blakey - Indestructible

And...we're back.

Thanks for checking in and it's been a minute. I hope you are all well and staying safe during these challenging and uncertain times.

It was a busy Spring/Summer but it also was nice to take a break from blogging for a bit. Anyways, I'm back at it now that Fall is in full swing and there are lots of interesting things in the queue coming up. So stay tuned.

For starters, Bret Primack, the prolific "Jazz Video Guy", recently produced this wonderful documentary on the legacy of Art Blakey with some great insight and commentary from several Jazz Messengers including the likes of Geoff Keezer, Brian Lynch, Ralph Peterson Jr., Bill Pierce, Bobby Watson, Willard Jenkins, Benny Green and Max Roach.

This is just one of many jazz videos that Primack has produced and I'd encourage you all to take a look at his YouTube.com channel and check out all the wonderful work that he's been doing.

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

Friday, August 14, 2020

Intermission Riff

I am taking a break from blogging and all things internet for awhile. Thanks again for all your continued support and I'll see you in a minute.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Complete OH DRUM CANADA!

Here's all six episodes of OH DRUM CANADA! all in one place, for your viewing convenience.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. My original intention was to release one video on Canada Day but this quickly turned into a much bigger, multi-part series that is well over 60 minutes long and features over 70 Canadian jazz drummers from all over the country (and then some...)

If you've been following these episodes over the past month hopefully you've enjoyed the diverse jazz drumming and creative percussive talent that exists across Canada.


Ian Froman 
Michel Lambert 
Mark Kelso 
Joel Haynes
Jackson Haynes 
Efa Etoroma Jr. 
Valérie Lacombe 
Jamie Cooper 
Nick Fraser 
Terry Clarke 
Alan Dowling 
Barry Elmes 
Dan McCarthy
Dave Laing
Ted Warren 
Karl Jannuska 
Anthony Fung 
Celene Yohemas 
Rob Siwik 
Louis-Vincent Hamel 
Kelby MacNayr 
Ernesto Cervini 
Norman Marshall Villeneuve
Tom Roach 
Dan Skakun 
Lorie Wolf 
Aubrey Dayle 
Andrew McCarthy 
Morgan Childs 
Robin Tufts 
Thom Gossage 
Barry Romberg
Travis Knights 
Anthony Michelli 
Buff Allen 
Jaime Carrasco 
Jesse Cahill 
Nathan Ouellette 
Raydel Martinez 
Joel Cuesta
Mike Cassells 
Max Senitt 
Tony Ferraro 
Archie Alleyne
Bob McLaren
Owen Howard
Chris Wallace
Hans Verhoeven
Rich Irwin
Justin Hauck
Fabio Ragnelli
Raul Tabera
Luis Tovar
Mario Allende
John Sumner
Jerry Fuller
Mark McLean
Jim Doxas
Mili Hong
Adam Arruda
Andrew Miller
Andre White
Charles Goguen
Luke Newman
Mark Micklethwaite
Afolabi Fapojuwo
Alain Bourgeois
Tim Shia
Curtis Nowosad
Jonathan McCaslin
Kris Mullaly
Henry Naulaq
Claude Ranger

With special thanks to Louise Villeneuve, Juanita Sumner, Mark Eisenman, Kirk MacDonald, Reg Schwager, Blaine Heffernan, Patrick Boyle, Tim Mah and Mark Miller

Friday, August 7, 2020

Vernel Fournier on Israel Crosby

I couldn't help myself and just had to share this wonderful radio interview with Vernel Fournier, speaking on the legacy of bassist Israel Crosby:

Vernel Fournier is an underrated jazz drummer in my opinion and his work with the Ahmad Jamal trio deserves serious study.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020



Mark McLean - New York, NY (Toronto, ON)

Jim Doxas - Montreal, QC

Mili Hong - Montreal, QC

Adam Arruda - Brooklyn, NY (Toronto, ON)

Andrew Miller - Halifax, NS

Charles Goguen - Moncton, NB

Luke Newman - Saskatoon, SK

Mark Micklethwaite - Toronto, ON

Afolabi Fapojuwo - Calgary, AB

Alain Bourgeois - Montreal, QC

Tim Shia - Toronto, ON

Curtis Nowosad - New York, NY (Winnipeg, MB)

Jonathan McCaslin - Calgary, AB

Kris Mullaly - Iqaluit, NU

Henry Naulaq - Iqaluit, NU

With Special Guests Andre White, Claude Ranger and Terry Clarke

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Mid-Summer Morning Paradiddle - August 2020

Thanks for checking in this morning and I hope you are all making the most of the Summer months despite the extraordinary circumstances we are currently facing.

Thanks again to everyone who has offered their kind words over the past month with regards to my ongoing project OH DRUM CANADA! It's been fun and stay tuned as the final episode drops this coming Wednesday.

Be forewarned, today's column is a long one...I'll be taking my yearly summer hiatus shortly so, in the meantime, here's a significant collection of various interesting articles and jazz drumming videos to check out and keep you occupied while I'm off in the woods and riding my bike. Thanks again for your ongoing support and be safe out there!

Anyhow, here's an assortment of interesting items that have been making the rounds of the Four on the Floor office lately:

1. Dafnis Prieto has been offering a series of brilliant solo drum performances on his website worth checking out entitled "Flying Solo"

2. Step Tempest offers Drums Out Front featuring new music from drummers Rudy Royston, Jerry Granelli and Steve Fidyk

3. The legacy of the late Jimmy Cobb (aka Mr. Elegant) celebrated by JazzTimes magazine

4. Jochen Rueckert interviewed by Leo Sidran at the The Third Story podcast

5. Franklin Kiermeyer offers these inspiring articles on The Spirit of Drumming, originally published in Canadian Musician Magazine (scroll down his page to read them)

6. Victor Lewis featured in The Drummer's Spirit from All About Jazz

7. Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science perform this NPR Tiny Desk concert

8. The always wise Billy Hart interviewed for the NAMM Oral History Program

9. Ireland's Ronan Guilfoyle offers this brilliant piece for RTE entitled Groove is in the heart: just what exactly is rhythm?

10. Joe Morello interviewed by Binny Lum circa. 1965

11. Rudy Royston featured on The Working Drummer podcast on the topic of solo drumming and story telling on the drum set

12. Barry Elmes is featured and talks about his music on JAZZ.FM's Session Notes

13. Further to my post last month on practicing and applying snare rudiments in a musical way, here's a great lesson with Ari Hoenig:

14. Let's take a moment to appreciate the great Ben Riley with Thelonious Monk:

15. An interview with Tony Williams:

....and some footage of Williams performing at Zildjian Day in Scotland circa. 1994:

16. The always musical Ulysses Owens offers this brief but musical hand drumming solo on his very nice and pleasingly resonant Tama drums:

17. Quincy Davis is back with another edition of his Q-Tip series, this time with some fusion drumming fun:

18. Joe Farnsworth's new album "Time to Swing" comes out in September. He and his stellar quartet (featuring Wynton Marsalis on trumpet) were recently featured at Smalls in Greenwich Village:

19. Antonio Sanchez in conversation with the New England Conservatory of Music:

20. A compilation of footage featuring Allison Miller on drums:

I also recently attended a wonderful virtual on-line masterclass of Allison Miller's, presented by Living Jazz. She spoke about many of the great jazz drummers, their contributions, their innovations and she also hipped us to this GREAT footage of Lenny White with pianist Geri Allen:

Thank you Allison!

21. Steve Smith with a mallet solo dedicated to Vic Firth:

22. A couple of Buddy Rich recordings that were recently recommended to me:

23. A great track from vibraphonist Terry Gibbs with the great Alan Dawson on drums:

24. This incredibly swinging 1962 concert featuring the Count Basie orchestra with Sonny Payne on drums was recently making the rounds via Facebook:

25. I recently came across this AMAZING footage of Billy Higgins and I'd suggest watching this one at least 50 times in a row...

26. I also really enjoyed this video production of Vincent Ho's composition Kickin' It 2.0 featuring Ben Reimer on drums and the Land's End Ensemble:

27. Some seriously swinging 1979 footage of Eddie Gladden with Dexter Gordon in The Hague:

28. A couple of great clips of Kenny Clarke...

...with the Roland Kirk quartet in Italy:

....and a brief latin-inspired solo:

29. Check out this percussive jam session featuring the always inspiring Francisco Mela on timbales:

30. Big thanks to the TD Edmonton International Jazz Festival who recently featured Kendrick Scott in this online drum performance and interview:

31. Calgary's Chad VanGaalen offers this cool animation of the Sun Ra Arkestra:

32. What am I listening to these days?

Miles Davis "Workin/Steamin/Cookin/Relaxin" - Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Kenny Burrell Trio "A Night at the Vanguard" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Johnathan Blake "Trion" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

Rudy Royston "PaNOptic" - Rudy Royston (drums)

Harry Vetro "Northern Ranger" - Harry Vetro (drums)

Jeff Cosgrove "History Gets Ahead of the Story" - Jeff Cosgrove (drums)

The Humanity Quartet "HUMANITY" - Leon Parker (drums)

33. And this Summer's Final Word goes to the great Billy Hart...

I recently attended a virtual on-line masterclass of Hart's presented by Healdsburg Jazz. When asked to offer his definition of "Swing", he replied:


And he concluded his masterclass with this message:

"They say that the highest form of intelligence in the universe...is Love"

- Jabali Billy Hart