WELCOME TO FOUR ON THE FOUR: A BLOG ABOUT JAZZ DRUMMING AND ALL THINGS UNRELATED, BROUGHT TO YOU BY JON McCASLIN

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.













FEATURING:

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

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.6
















Featuring:

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:

Hope
Joy
Euphoria
and
Optimism

And he concluded his masterclass with this message:

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

- Jabali Billy Hart




Wednesday, July 29, 2020

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.5
















Featuring:

Owen Howard - Brooklyn, NY (Edmonton, AB)

Chris Wallace - Toronto, ON

Hans Verhoeven - Nanaimo, BC

Rich Irwin - Montreal, QC

Justin Hauck - Moose Jaw, SK

Fabio Ragnelli - Winnipeg, MB/Toronto, ON

Raul Tabera - Calgary, AB

Luis Tovar - Calgary, AB

Mario Allende - Toronto, ON

With Special Guests John Sumner and Jerry Fuller

Monday, July 27, 2020

Jazz Drums Around the World Wide Web























Never before in the history of the world has there been so much information available to us so readily. In particular, the internet currently offers a plethora of great resources to learn about jazz drumming. Given our current circumstances, we now have the luxury of conveniently accessing a lot of great rhythmic information via the web and we are able to connect directly with many great jazz drummers from all over the world via social media, YouTube and a variety of on-line platforms.

Personally I've been trying to use these means myself on an on-going basis lately and I encourage everyone to take advantage of these learning opportunities currently offered to us.

Here is my completely subjective list of online jazz drumming resources that I continually return to for motivation, inspiration and information these days:












- Chris Smith is always up to great things via his on-going YouTube series The Drum Hang:



His topics are excellent, relevant and his explanations are always very concise and clear. I always learn something every time I tune into his latest episode (Chris plays his ass off too!)

Chris will soon be launching his own dedicated, subscription-based platform Jazz Drum Hang and I look forward to learning from what will certainly be another great jazz drumming resource on the web.










- Justin Varnes is one of most prolific jazz drumming teachers on the web via his platform and companion YouTube channel The Jazz Drummer's Resource.



Justin's archive of lessons is extensive and covers a lot of very practical subject matter. He's also a really great player and articulate teacher who draws a lot of his material directly from his own playing experience and from recordings of the great jazz drummers.

Justin recently had to offer these words about what's currently happening at JDR:

2020 brought a new round of "52 Licks" on YouTube, a new platform, new studio, guest instructors, and a focus on more individual help as opposed to just loading up video after video. 

Speaking of videos, there are 300 video lessons on the site now, broken down into categories and tags so it's easy to find what you're looking for. The two most useful features of the site are Courses and "What to Work On." Courses help you keep track of your progress (you can also mark lessons as "Watched" or save them for later in your "My Account" section)

Some of the most recent courses include "Continuous 8th's" - a set of vocabulary that lets you flow continuously through ideas, ala a bebop horn solo, "Big Band" - chart reading, common figures and setups, and flexible fill and setup vocabulary, and "Upping Your Tempo"- a 12-part course in the techniques, vocabulary, and comping exercises to play faster, all done by going up the metronome 10 clicks at a time. 

The "What to Work On" page allows subscribers to reach out to me with what they'd like help with. Then we work to create a practice plan (with lessons on the site, or stuff I create for them) so they can stay focused and see results. 

The goal is not just to host a bunch of lessons. The goal is to be your online teacher.























- I often revisit New York's Jochen Rueckert's 10 part instructional video series. These are very well produced and offer great explanations and insights from a drummer who is well immersed in the New York contemporary jazz scene.

For more information, check out his website.



Here is Rueckert's summary of the ten videos in his series:

This first episode focuses on improving your general time, swing time feel, feathering the bass drum and has some tips on playing fast.

This second episode contains pretty much everything I have to say about playing brushes.

This third episode is a collection of things I hear people do all wrong, over and over...

This fourth episode focuses on the way I like to practice improvising and soloing.

This fifth episode focuses on everything connected to touch and sound, including ways I hold a stick, where I hit a cymbal, but also what cymbals and sticks I use, for example.

This sixth episode focuses on getting comfortable in odd meters like 5/4 and 7/4 as well as more composite time signatures, like 15/8.

This seventh Episode offers some thoughts on how to interact in a band, some tips on playing in 2, and how to navigate original music.

This eighth episode outlines my general influences as a composer (especially besides jazz music) and offers some thoughts about four of my songs from "We Make the Rules" including Alloplasty, Yellow Bottoms, Saul Goodman, and Pretty From Afar.

This ninth episode focuses on my background and analysis of four songs off of my album Charm Offensive including Purring Excellence, 5-Hydroxytryptamine, Stretchmark, Charm Offensive, as well as Hayden Chisholm's arrangement of "Just friends" from my very first album "introduction".

This tenth episode focuses on answering the question : "Who are your greatest influences as a drummer?" I discuss all of the ones that made a big impact on me, especially when I was in my early 20's, try to explain why, and give listening examples. The email that you will get from the store will have a list of each drummer's records that I listened to a lot.








- Falk Willis' Jazz Heaven.com offers an extensive collection of informative lessons and masterclasses with a variety of contemporary jazz Masters.



There is so much great information to be found here in this well-curated platform.

In addition to this amazing instructional series, Jazz Heaven also offers a weekly webinar series that features a who's who of the contemporary jazz scene.

Also new is the JazzHeaven Community https://community.jazzheaven.com/ which has been described as "Facebook for Jazz". It looks like a great resource and place to share knowledge, ask questions, post videos/audio/images, etc. And there is also the option to hop on instant Zoom-style video group chats with others.

Falk has been working very hard on this over the past 10 years or so and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the great information and access to the Masters that he's compiled here.













- I've subscribed to several great video lessons from My Music Masterclass over the past couple of years from the likes of Mike Clark, Charles Ruggiero, Rakalam Bob Moses, Louis Hayes, Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss. I think we are very fortunate to be able to learn from great drummers like this!












- Open Studio is an amazing resource for jazz musicians and jazz drummer's in particular, featuring a variety of in-depth lesson packages with the likes of Greg Hutchinson, Ulysses Owens Jr. and Brazilian drummer Edu Ribeiro.






FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS:

- I've heard great things about both Peter Erskine's Artistworks platform and Stanton Moore's Drum Academy from other drummers. I don't have experience with these myself, however judging from what I have seen via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. and from clinics I've attended in the past, these guys are both really great teachers. These are a couple of resources I'll be checking out in the future for sure.






- I haven't really checked out the Patreon platform yet but from all accounts both Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss are both worth serious consideration. Hoenig and Weiss are both serious students of the instrument and expanding the lexicon of jazz drumming through their advanced considerations of rhythm.





- Oh yes, and apparently the one and only Geoff Clapp will have his own lesson platform up and running starting this fall, so keep an eye out for that one for sure! (Check in at his web page https://geoffclapp.podia.com for updates)



- And finally, no day on my laptop is complete without checking in on my two favourite jazz drumming blogs: Todd Bishop's exceptional Cruise Ship Drummer and Ted Warren's Trap'd.

Both of these dedicated bloggers keep me musically & rhythmically grounded on a daily basis, with plenty of things to think about and practice.

Check out this wonderful recent blog post of Ted's entitled The Joy of Practice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.4
















Featuring:

Travis Knights - Toronto, ON

Anthony Michelli - Toronto, ON

Buff Allen - Bowen Island, BC

Jaime Carrasco - Winnipeg, MB

Jesse Cahill - Vancouver, BC

Nathan Ouellette - Edmonton, AB

Raydel Martinez - Edmonton, AB

Joel Cuesta - Edmonton, AB

Mike Cassells - Kingston, ON

Max Senitt - Toronto, ON

Tony Ferraro - Rossland, BC

With Special Guests Archie Alleyne and Bob McLaren

Monday, July 20, 2020

Thoughts on Practicing Rudiments























Over the course of our current circumstances, dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, I've been inspired by several great drummers who took it upon themselves to share their knowledge and passion for drumming via social media on a regular on-going basis.

In particular, these are some of the great drummers that have inspired me over the past few months and I've learned a great deal from their regular Facebook/Instagram posts and videos:

- For a couple of months Calgary's Gavin Sorochan offered a daily demonstration of Alan Dawson's Rudimental Ritual via Facebook; one rudiment, one day at a time. As well, he gave very informative and concise daily explanations, demonstrating rhythmic applications of Gary Chaffee's compound sticking concepts. I'm not familiar Chaffee's method so this continues to be very eye opening for me. Gavin's posts also encouraged me to invest some time on my own drum pad and revisit the Rudimental Ritual.

- Eric Binder (whose wonderful publications are no stranger to the readers of Four on the Floor) is continuously sharing great clips of him playing his vast collection of vintage drums & cymbals. His newest book 3/4 Rudimental Rundown and frequent demonstrations of Charles Wilcoxon snare drum solos are inspiring and motivating to say the least (I'm also always really impressed with how quietly Eric can play this stuff!)

- Jason Brown has been consistently sharing a vast wealth of snare drum and rudimental knowledge, offering very clever and rhythmically challenging variations on standard rudiments and sticking/accent patterns on a daily basis via Instagram. Jason was also offering a weekly masterclass drum hang with Charles Goold and I found these be really great as well. Tune in with Jason and you'll learn something!

- Greg Hutchinson's daily Instagram practice pad sessions have been really informative, always motivating and I really admire his right hand finger technique! Greg pulls no punches in terms of what you need to do to get better.

- Ireland's Conor Guilfoyle always has great things to share whether demonstrating concepts related to snare drum technique, contemporary Afro-Cuban rhythms or approaches to playing odd-meters.

Every time I tune in to watch these guys, I learn something!

Anyways, all this discussion about the snare drum and the rudiments has not only had me practicing more lately but it also got me thinking about some bigger musical considerations as well.

I've been playing rudiments for nearly 35 years now (!) and while I think they are very important for a drum set player, I also think it's easy to take them for granted and lose sight of their purpose if we're not careful.

So here's a fews things I've been thinking about lately with regards to practicing rudiments:

1) IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT PLAYING FAST

When I was a kid the idea of playing rudiments, rolls, paradiddles, etc. really, really fast was considered as a real badge of honour. I thought it was really impressive and initially the idea of playing rudiments as fast as possible was my ultimate goal. That's what I aspired to.

Fortunately, as I matured as a musician and started to study the greats, I quickly realized otherwise and wisened up (!) However, I still feel it's important to remind ourselves, from time to time anyways (and for our student's sake as well!) that rudiments are merely tools for making music.

I recently watched a wonderful Peter Erskine live masterclass via Facebook and when he demonstrated his basic warmup routine he said a couple of things that really resonated:

"I'm not really a rudiment guy..."

"When I warm up, I play slow, I play quiet...and I play relaxed"

What I took away from this was that the mastery of the rudimental language of drumming isn't all about speed or how fast one can play. Rather it's all about control at all tempos (including slow ones!), at all dynamic levels and being able to play with a consistent, relaxed and pleasing tone on the instrument. It's all about sound.

2) MAKE THEM GROOVE

Many drummers have great hands but can't swing or groove worth a dime! (or whatever musical currency you happen to subscribe to...) You'll have much better success applying the rudiments to the drum set if you get used to playing them in time.

I was first introduced to this concept a very long time ago by Ted Warren when I came across a hand written lesson of his entitled Groovin' The Rudiments.

Play your rudiments with a metronome at a variety of tempos (not just the fast ones either!) and get used to phrasing them in 4 or 8 measure phrases.

Jason Marsalis once told me that he liked to practice his rudiments along with music (such as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker or Bud Powell) and that he would try to match his eighth-note articulation to the music he was playing along with. Personally I love playing rudiments on a pad along with recordings of Bernard Purdie playing drums.

You've got to figure out how to make these patterns dance.

3) PLAY WITH DYNAMICS

Musical drumming is always the goal. As with tempos, practice your rudiments at all dynamic levels.

Learning to distinguish and properly play accented patterns is really important too.

4) PLAY MELODIES

There is nothing worse than hearing a drummer recite a steady stream of unimaginative, prescripted rudimental patterns when it comes time for them to solo.

Listening to Philly Joe Jones or Kenny Washington (among many others!) will quickly inform your melodic approach while using a rudimental vocabulary.

Learn some melodies (Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, etc.) and play them on a drum pad using a variety of sticking patterns and rudiments to embellish the melodic rhythms.

Use your imagination and see how many ways you can orchestrate a melody using different rudiments.

Always think about the phrasing and the sound.

5) USE YOUR FEET

I once attended a masterclass with Ed Shaughnessy many years ago where the audience was primarily made up of young drummers who played in high school marching band drumlines.

Ed began his masterclass by holding up a hand written poster that exclaimed "If you aren't using your feet, then you aren't playing the drum set!"

It seems pretty self-explanatory (!) but I think the point he was trying to make was that while having great hands and working out on a drum pad are both great, as drum set players we cannot neglect our feet.

Practice playing your rudiments on the snare drum while using any number of foot ositnatos (they don't even have to be complicated...) and get your hands and feet playing together (this is the basis of Alan Dawson's Rudimental Ritual btw).

Take things a step further and explore different ways you can split up and orchestrate the rudiments between the hands and the feet. Be creative and use your imagination. Think of the drum set as one instrument.

6) PLAY WITH BRUSHES

Play all your rudiments with your brushes and you won't regret it.

Apparently Terri Lyne Carrington warms up every day by playing through Alan Dawson's Rudimental Ritual first with sticks, then brushes and finally with a pair of mallets on the floor tom.

The brushes are different beast physically than sticks and playing rudiments are a great way to develop your brush technique.

---------------------------

Here's a quick summary of some ideas to think about when practicing rudiments:

- Play your rudiments at a variety of different tempos. Don't get hung up on speed for speed's sake.

- Stay relaxed and pay attention to the quality of sound you are making (even if you are playing on a drum pad!)

- Play any accented patterns with distinction and clarity

- Play your rudiments at a variety of dynamic levels

- Play the rudiments in Time and in 4 or 8 measure phrases

- Use a metronome

- Play along with recordings

- Make the patterns feel like something. Make it swing!

- Learn bebop melodies and play them using different sticking patterns and then embellish them using rudiments

- Play the rudiments on the snare drum while playing basic feet ostinatos. Get your hands and feet to work together!

- Explore orchestrating rudimental patterns between the hands & feet

- Play the rudiments with brushes (and mallets!)


Recommended Rudimental Resources:

- Percussive Arts Society International Drum Rudiments

- The Rudimental Ritual (Alan Dawson)

- 3/4 Rudimental Rundown (Eric Binder)

- The All-American Drummer & Modern Rudimental Swing Solos for the Advanced Drummer (Charles Wilcoxon)

- Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer (Jim Blackley)

- Stick Control (George Lawrence Stone)

- Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer (Ted Reed) *Use many of Alan Dawson's variations!*

- Master Studies (Joe Morello)

- The Charlie Parker Omnibook


Okay, hopefully this has all been helpful and has offered you at least a few things to think about while practicing your rudiments. Hopefully you'll approach them with a musical sensibility in mind.

And to wrap things up, here's a couple of great clips featuring Ted Warren and Jason Marsalis improvising with just a snare drum. These illustrate pretty much everything I've talked about today, in one way or another:





And this one is a repost, but a personal favourite of mine. Here is Dame Evelyn Glennie playing a press roll for 30 minutes straight, exhausting the musical possibilities of one single rudiment!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.3
















Featuring:

Tom Roach - Halifax, NS

Dan Skakun - Edmonton, AB

Lorie Wolf - Toronto, ON

Aubrey Dayle - Oshawa, ON

Andrew McCarthy - St. John's, NL

Morgan Childs - Toronto, ON

Barry Elmes - Kincardine, ON

Robin Tufts - Calgary, AB

Thom Gossage - Montreal, QC

Barry Romberg - Toronto, ON

Monday, July 13, 2020

Evelyn Glennie: Improvisation on Drums (and vibes!)













If you are looking for some musical inspiration this Monday morning, here is percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie with a wonderfully creative improvisation for you to check out:



Glennie also has a prolific YouTube channel full of cool videos and this lead me to a beautiful vibraphone improvisation of hers, which put a smile on my face and left me in a very good mood this morning...

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.2





Featuring:

Dave Laing - Montreal, QC

Ted Warren - Guelph, ON

Karl Jannuska - Paris, FR (Brandon, MB)

Anthony Fung - Los Angeles, CA (Toronto, ON)

Celene Yohemas - Calgary, AB

Rob Siwik - Winnipeg, MB

Louis-Vincent Hamel - Montreal, QC

Kelby MacNayr - Victoria, BC

Ernesto Cervini - Toronto, ON

AND SPECIAL GUEST...

Norman Marshall Villeneuve - Montreal, QC



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

OH DRUM CANADA! Vol.1















I’ve been working on this project for over a month now and I am excited to finally share this with you all.

This past Spring I was inspired by Kendrick Scott’s YouTube compilation video featuring 38 jazz drummers, all interpreting Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence”, and by Joe Farnsworth’s ongoing series, celebrating many jazz drumming legends.

A month ago I invited Canadian jazz drummers from across the country (and many ex-pats currently living abroad) to contribute 60 second video excerpts of them playing the drums.

“Do your thing!” I asked…

Starting today, and every Wednesday for the next month or so, I will be sharing these videos of Canada’s jazz drummers.

What you’ll see in the video below is a collection of the musicians who graciously replied to my invitation.

So in the spirit of our nation’s birthday, I offer this rhythmic celebration featuring Canadian jazz drummers from coast-to-coast (and then some…)

This week’s episode features the creative and percussive talents of Ian Froman, Michel Lambert, Mark Kelso, Joel Haynes, Jackson Haynes, Efa Etoroma Jr., Valérie Lacombe, Jamie Cooper, Nick Fraser, Terry Clarke, Alan Dowling and a special “Oh Canada” sing-a-long courtesy of Barry Elmes.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to make this happen.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this and please tune in for next week's episode.

Keep swingin’ and please enjoy OH DRUM CANADA!

Sincerely,

Jon McCaslin

Calgary, AB

Monday, June 29, 2020

Philly's Ride and Mel's Swish











Thanks to the nice people over at Zildjian and the Memphis Drum Shop, here's John Riley and Paul Francis talking about and demonstrating a ride cymbal owned and played by Philly Joe Jones:



And here's John and Paul featuring Mel Lewis' iconic Swish cymbal:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rudy Royston PaNOptic























Drummer/composer Rudy Royston has just released his newest album PaNOptic on Greenleaf Music featuring a program of solo drum improvisations. I was really impressed and inspired by the imagination and creativity that Royston displays in this music. 

Check it out on his Bandcamp page here.

I first heard Rudy play with Dave Douglas' Brass Ecstasy project at the Village Vanguard around 2011 or 2012 (?) and immediately became a fan of his drumming. I highly recommend his other albums 303, Flatbed Buggy and The Rise of Orion as well. 

Check out his page at Greenleaf Music to learn more about this accomplished and dynamic artist.

Rudy was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his new music:

Rudy Royston PaNOptic - Four on the Floor Interview June 2020

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

PaNOptic, is a solo drum record consisting of 23 tracks of music that resulted from a three hour session of free flowing music I tried to surrender to the freedom of just playing music, playing what I felt at the time, whatever flowed from my conscience during this session. I found myself being inspired by poems, music legends, scenes, memories, exploring the quiet, darkness of my mind while beams of inspirations would shine through. It really is a comprehensive view of the music that was at the forefront of my thinking and creative process during that period. When I listened later I found there was a few arching themes through the music: scenes, tributes, sacred, pop. 

I didn’t want to just be playing drums and drum solos on the record. I wanted music complete with harmony and melody and emotion as well as rhythm. I wanted to play complete ideas, tell stories, paint pictures, express moods, explore feelings. I mean, exploring rhythm, textures and colors and even stories, these are things we can normally relate to the drum kit. But, to think of the drums as complete and comprehensive an instrument as piano or guitar, we don’t often think about drums in this light.

2) What inspired you to pursue an album of solo drum music?

I’ve always wanted to record a solo drum record. Ronald Shannon Jackson’s solo record, “Puttin on Dog,” was what inspired me mostly to make this record. At the time of this recording I was listening to so many different styles and genres of music, and I was exploring different approaches to my playing. I remember I was trying to capture an authentic, organic sound: trying to play the feeling of the moment, to illustrate an image in as unplanned and unforeseen a way as possible…just create the sonic expression straight away, however I could express it. I wanted to capture that adventure on record. I was listening to RSJ and the adventure of a solo drum record that was only using drums and cymbals…no loops or samples or overdubs, not even about grooving in the usual sense of the role was intriguing to me. I didn’t want any gadgets or gizmos on the heads. There is nothing wrong with these things, I just wanted the challenge and freedom of no help, and conveying a message on just drums and cymbals…and voice.

3) What are the musical challenges of programming an entire album of drum solos?

I don’t think of this as an album of drum solos. For me, it is a record of expression. I never felt like I was soloing; there was never a moment when it was my turn to shine: I was too into the pursuit of the feeling or emotion or image of the tune. It’s just music, on the drums. That was a challenge: expressing the “music” I was playing and not the drumming. This is connected to the larger challenge: style and pacing. The last thing I wanted was a barrage of continuous drum bashing. There had to be texture changes, style changes, tempo and volume variety. The elements were there since I was actually playing tunes and not soloing, but hoping they would work as an overall flow over the course of the record was a concern. I think it came out well: some tunes are dense with drums, some thin, some loud, some very soft, some fast, some slow. It is a good flowing record.

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

The message is just to enjoy the stories and feeling and emotions this music can evoke in you. Drums can be intimidating for some, and it might take a moment to adjust to the sound of solo drums. But, my message was forget that you are listening to solo drums, just enjoy the music, enjoy how it makes you feel or what it makes you see and think about. If you can listen this record like you would any other non-solo-drum record you like, I’m happy.

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

I think Ron Miles is my main influence for writing music and playing. There are so many others when it comes to writing; at times some more than others. That is the great part about bing a sideman, sometimes the people who I am playing with are giving me compositional inspiration. Playing?…Elvin Jones, Jack Dejohnette, Art Blakey, Paul Motion, Tain, Greg Hutchinson…some of the younger guys, Marcus Gilmore, Corey Fonville, so many more.

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

These days I am listening to more soundtracks and television show, theme music—probably because my attention has been drawn to television music since I have been quarantined and watching more television.

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

I can never tell what I am doing in the beginning of a project: I can’t decipher in what direction I am going to go. I am taking advantage of this quarantine time to write a little. I know there is a project in the making, just not sure how it will manifest itself just yet. I would love to play with a vibist at some point, but the “blues” of Flatbed Buggy is still in my soul for now, I think. Either look for another Flatbed Buggy record or something with vibes and harmonica…in that sonic atmosphere.

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

Sometimes I compose music from the drums, not often. When I do write from the drums, it is usually from a place of feeling out the shape of the tune. How grooves or textures undulate from one part of the song to the next…where to build and where to release. I will start with something on the drums and begin to sing and search for the rest of the tune…then to the keyboard to write it down.

In my approach to rhythm, I like rhythms that are simply stated but open to much interpretation. There are tunes that are written with more precise rhythms and—depending on the composer’s wants—for me that often puts me in a tight space a bit because there can be such rhythmic complexity that there is no room for embellishment without creating a feeling of chaos. I try to write music that gives space for rhythmic interaction. Besides the melody of tunes, and the occasional rhythmic interaction, I don’t tend to write precise grooves for parts much. I like to leave rhythmic interpretations to the particular musician who is playing the part. I may give a reference rhythm, but it is only a suggestion.  

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

Man…everything and everyone I like….many folks, from Prince to Dolly Parton to Coltrane to Mahalia Jackson to Nirvana to Cameo to Chicago to Jay-Z, Lady Gaga….everything I hear and like is an influence.

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

Get humble, stay humble; practice often; remember playing music is about the music, whether soloing or in a group; play without fear; always try to play something you can’t; laugh at/with yourself every time you play; play for passion of music, not success: the former will bring the latter; don’t worry; play for love.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Playing with Brushes!























Thanks to Rob Wallis and Hudson Music, here is Adam Nussbaum, Jeff Hamilton and Steve Smith playing and talking brushes:


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Zildjian LIVE!: Marcus Gilmore















In case you missed it, here's Marcus Gilmore from his recent Zildjian LIVE! session:



And while we're here, check out this recent collaboration between Gilmore and Zakir Hussain:

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - June 2020














And...we're back.

Thank you all for checking in and here is this month's collection of jazz drumming related considerations for you to enjoy and learn from.

- CBC Radio's Ideas offers this fascinating episode on the neuroscience of rhythm and the role it plays in our daily lives

- Ulysses Owens Jr. wrote this motivating article Pandemic Entrepreneurship for Jazz Musicians in JazzTimes Magazine

- Chicago's Chad Taylor interviewed by Jason Crane over at The Jazz Session

- Gerry Gibbs in Modern Drummer Magazine, featuring his new and very cool YouTube Channel.

Dig this!




- Mike Clark on Tony Williams from Not So Modern Drummer Magazine

- Todd Bishop over at Cruiseship Drummer has been busy these days. In particular he's painstakingly compiled a huge archive of creative practice loops to play-a-long with. Check these out here.

These are really clever and can offer an interesting element to your practice routine if you are working on a particular groove or feel. I showed these to Adam Nussbaum the other day and he lost his mind!

Here's a good one if you might be inclined to work on your slow tempos:




- Jerry Granelli featured in Jazz Profiles, speaking about his days playing with Mose Allison and Vince Guaraldi

- Canadian free jazz drummer Larry Dubin is a new name to me. Check out this 1979 CCMC performance.

- The 80/20 Drummer offers this episode on his practical approach to playing the brushes:




- Steve Fidyk interviewed by Discussions in Percussion

- Cellar Live's Cory Weeds interviews Jason Tiemann

- Francisco Mela's tribute to the late Jimmy Cobb:




- Jerome Jennings offers these two inspiring performances:






- Ralph Peterson Jr. interviewed by Occhi Magazine:




- Brazilian jazz drummer Duduka Da Fonseca interviewed by Drummer Nation:






...and another episode from Drummer Nation, this time featuring the great Bill Goodwin:




- Jazzkeller Frankfurt interviews Adam Nussbaum:

-


- Neon Jazz offers two recent interviews with Allison Miller:




...and Jim Black!




- Drummer Kevin Dorn shares this elastic band bass drum pedal hack, taught to him by Jake Hanna:



Has anyone tried this???

- Here's some great footage of Jeff Hamilton with the Woody Herman band featuring tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and Frank Tiberi on a burning arrangement of Giant Steps:




- A couple of great clips featuring Art Taylor...

 ...with Dexter Gordon circa. 1963:




...and with Dizzy Gillepie and Johnny Griffin playing "A Night in Tunisia" circa. 1971:



Thanks to Mike Melito and Andrew Dickeson for sharing these via the Facebook.

- And....last, but certainly not least, here is the great ROY HAYNES with Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett and Christian McBride featuring one of the most epic drum solos you'll ever see:




ROY! HAYNES!


- What am I listening to these days?

Harrison2 "Trouts in Swimwear" - Harrison Vetro (drums)

Elvin Jones Trio "Skyscrapers, Vols.1-4" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers "The Freedom Rider" - Art Blakey (drums)

Rudy Royston "PaNOptic" - Rudy Royston (drums)

Ted Warren/Mike Murley/Rich Brown "Broadview" - Ted Warren (drums)

Sam Jones "The Bassist" - Keith Copeland (drums)

Duke Jordan "Flight to Denmark" - Ed Thigpen (drums)

Mark Eisenman Trio "Sweet & Lovely" - Jimmy Cobb (drums)

Nick Ayoub "The Montreal Scene" - Emile "Cisco" Normand (drums)


- And today's Final Word goes to Sonny Rollins with these two pieces from The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Kelly Jefferson also recently shared this great piece of wisdom via his Facebook page:

“It’s not about your music - it’s about what makes your music your music. You’ve got to have a feeling like that. You have to have a reason for your music. Have something besides the technical. Make it for something. Make it for kindness, make it for peace, whatever it is. You know what I mean?”

- Sonny Rollins




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

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Kendrick Scott - "No Justice, No Peace"











A pair of very powerful and moving pieces today from Kendrick Scott:






Monday, June 8, 2020

More Jimmy Cobb!


Further to last week's blog post, here's a few more items on the great Jimmy Cobb that I'd like to share with you today.

First, as a follow up to bassist Pat Collin's reflections on his own experience working with Jimmy Cobb, I asked Toronto pianist Mark Eisenman to do the same. Mark was kind enough to offer these words on playing and recording with Cobb back in 2003 (incidentally this is also posted on the new Four on the Floor YouTube channel!):



Thank you Mark!

Here's a few more links to check out:

Rick Mattingly offers this memorial via the Percussive Arts Society website

- An older but great piece from WBGO, A Take Five Salute to Jimmy Cobb featuring many of his important recordings

- NPR recently published this obituary and also shared this 2013 performance of Cobb and his band, recorded live at New York's Village Vanguard:


- Bret Primack (aka "The Jazz Video Guy") offers this tribute to Jimmy Cobb, a 2006 trio performance with Mulgrew Miller and Buster Williams:



- And finally, here's a great clip of Jimmy Cobb in action with Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and John Coltrane:



Thank you Jimmy Cobb!






Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thank You Jimmy Cobb!






















The great Jimmy Cobb recently passed away at the age of 91. Jimmy has always been one of my favourites and, in fact, was one of the first jazz drummers I was ever exposed to. He's always been a huge influence on my own drumming.

When I was about 15 years old my jazz band director at the Regina Lions Band, Brenda McAlpine, made a mix tape for me (remember those mystical sonic devices we used to call "tapes" or "cassette tapes"?) with three albums on it: Kenny Clarke Meets the Detroit Jazzmen, McCoy Tyner's Just Feelin' and Art Pepper's Gettin' Together. The drummers on those records (who I still listen to and study today!) were Clarke, Louis Hayes and...Jimmy Cobb.

Not long after that introduction came listening to his work with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue and In Person at the Blackhawk. However, one real attention grabber for me was when drummer Kevin Dempsey played me Joe Henderson's Four! recorded live with Jimmy Cobb, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers. Cobb's solo on the title track still floors me today (Go check that one out!)

I was also fortunate to finally hear Jimmy Cobb play in person at the Calgary Jazz Festival in 2009 with his Kind of Blue tribute band. I managed to sneak backstage afterwards and had him sign my favourite old 19" A Zildjian cymbal ("Don't sell it on eBay!" he said to me afterwards...)



Last summer my good friend and Canadian bassist Pat Collins told me some stories about a memorable trio session he recorded with Toronto pianist Mark Eisenman and Jimmy Cobb entitled Sweet & Lovely (Cornerstone Records).

Pat was nice enough to take some time to share what it was like to play with Cobb:

"Some Thoughts On Jimmy Cobb" by Pat Collins

In January 2003, my friend Mark Eisenman asked me to play with him on a recording with legendary drummer, Jimmy Cobb. This recording is now available on the Cornerstone Records label, under Mark’s name, and is entitled, “Sweet and Lovely”. A few things stand out about the session that I am happy to have the opportunity to share.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about that session was the fact that the first couple of takes, from my perspective, didn’t feel as good as I thought they would have. I was playing tentatively and took the approach of trying to “follow” Jimmy. After a while, Barry Elmes, who was acting as producer of the session, told me to just play like I play and from that point on, things felt fantastic! It was a real lesson for me, that no matter who you’re playing with, you can’t be a follower, rhythmically. Once I committed to playing with a bit more conviction, things lined up with Jimmy and it and felt great! It was a truly memorable session.

One of the tunes we recorded for the album was, “Someday My Prince Will Come”. Mark decided we play a similar arrangement to what Miles did on his album of the same name. The intro starts with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb playing a quarter note pedal on an “F”, with Wynton Kelly sneaking in after a few four bars or so. When Mark and I were playing this arrangement with Jimmy, at one point we looked at each other and each of us had this goofy smile on our face, the look of astonishment that here we are, playing with Jimmy freaking Cobb!

One of the things that most impressed me about Jimmy during the session, was how seriously he took things. It would have been very easy for him to come to the session, collect his cheque and get out of there with there as quickly as possible. At the point in the session when it felt like things were winding down, Jimmy said to us, “If you guys want to do some more, I’m up for it”. I’ll never forget that, and whenever I’m tired on a session or gig, I draw on those words from Jimmy as inspiration as well as a kick in the pants to myself.

Jimmy’s commitment to the music was also exhibited with us a year later. The trio did a six-night gig at Toronto’s, “Top O’ The Senator” club. It was such an incredible experience to be part of this gig. Every night people would come in with their vinyl copies of the iconic albums Jimmy played on and ask him to sign them. He was always gracious and often took time to have conversations with the people requesting the autograph. For the last tune of each night, Mark would call, “I’ll Remember April”. Mark would let Jimmy set the tempo each night, and it seemed like each night Jimmy would start the tune a little bit faster. Mark and I got used to buckling our seatbelts for this and by the end of the week, the tempo was burning!

It was such an honour, education and thrill to have the opportunity to play with Jimmy Cobb and something that I will never forget. RIP Jimmy.


















Joe Farnsworth has also recently produced yet another amazing YouTube video, this time offering his tribute to Jimmy Cobb, featuring an all-star cast of drummers and well-wishers:



Thank you Jimmy Cobb!