Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Joe Morello Plays His Ludwigs

I recently spent some time poking around Bob Everett's vintage drum shop in Calgary - Beat It (great name for a store that sells drums!)

He had a beautiful set of old 60s Ludwigs in a champagne sparkle finish with a 20" inch bass drum and 13" and 16" toms.
They sounded great....and I was tempted to take them home with me, but I have enough drums for now !

The sound, look and overall vibe totally reminded me of this guy and his drums:

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Award !

I'm very pleased to announce that Four On The Floor has been chosen as one of the top 50 music blogs on the internet as selected by the Guide to Art School's list of the Best Music Blogs:


Thanks for your support !

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland

From the Charlies Lloyd album "Sangam" here's a duet featuring the percussion Master's Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland on the composition "Tales of Rumi":

I was hoping to catch Eric Harland with Joshua Redman's group James Farm last Wednesday, but the whole festival collapsed.

Has anyone seen Eric with this group recently on tour elsewhere ? Please tell me what I missed : )

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chocolate Kidney Bean Cake

I had a good conversation with saxophonist Phil Dwyer the other day and he mentioned how much he enjoyed my blog. Phil runs a summer Jazz/culinary workshop on Vancouver Island every summer (quite the combination!) and I was reminded that I haven't posted any of my favorite recipes in a long while.

So in the spirit of the pursuit of Jazz culinary excellence, here is a recipe for the most moist chocolate cake you'll ever eat !!!

This is a great (and simple) recipe for a flourless chocolate cake that uses kidney beans as it's main ingredient (no one will ever know when they taste it). Props to my sister-in-law Cynthia who passed this on to me:


16 ounces can of red kidney beans

1 tsp instant coffee (don't use ground espresso like it did - oops!)

1 TBL pure vanilla extract

6 TBL cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 TBL coconut oil (you can use butter or margarine instead)

1 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients minus the baking soda, baking powder, and eggs in your blender. Blend until the mixture is too thick to blend. Add in the eggs, baking powder, and baking soda, then mix until a smooth and evenly mixed cake batter is achieved. Grease an 8×8 cake pan and pour in your batter. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool while listening to "All or Nothing at All" from John Coltrane's "Ballad's" album. Add a ton of chocolate frosting, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Enjoy !

Friday, June 25, 2010

Steve Hudson & The Outer Bridge Ensemble

Last night I caught pianist Steve Hudson and The Outer Bridge Ensemble at the Cantos music foundation in what's now being now referred to as the "left-over" Calgary Jazz Festival : )

We are very lucky to still have so much great live jazz happening this week !

I was hoping to catch Montreal saxophonist Andre Leroux and his group at the Beatniq on Wednesday night, but I ended up hanging out with Outer Bridge drummer Jerome Jennings and talking drums with him for the better part of the afternoon and evening. Sorry Andre, there just wasn't enough time...I also caught the very tail end of Rich Brown's band Rinsethealgorhythm last night after Steve's gig was finished. Drummer Larnell Lewis was givin' it !!! (as he always does)

Oh yeah, our Jazz Lives parade that found it's way down the Stephan Avenue Mall yesterday afternoon was a success. Everyone had a great time as it was a sunny day and people lined the street to cheer us on and clap along. Maybe we'll have at least converted a few new Jazz fans along the way...Props to Cindy McLeod for organizing this, CBC Jazz radio personality Tim Tamishiro for coming out to support us and the talented band of musicians including Al Muirhead, Allistair Elliott, Brent Mah, John Reid and the many others who contributed their talents to the cause (we also had TWO tuba players and an accordion player!)

Anyhow....The Outer Bridge Ensemble featuring pianist Steve Hudson, Mark DeJong on saxophones, percussionist David Freeman, local Calgary bassist Simon Fisk and James Zollar on trumpet was outstanding. This band, a collective that performs compositions composed by all members of the group, has been together for nearly ten years now having first started playing together during their studies at Rutgers University.

The overall vibe covered an ecclectic mix of grooves and original compositions with a real nice mix of free'ish and loose improvisation based over inventive modern melodies and grooves.

To me, the overall music was very reminiscient of bassist Ben Allison's music and, on some of the more groove based tunes, I heard some similarities to the Miles Davis groups of the late 60s and earl 70s. Great stuff.

A few thoughts about some moments that stood out for me:

- James Zollar on trumpet !!! Wow...what a great musician. I first heard James play with Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts band about six years ago and then subsequently as a sideman with both the Count Basie and Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra's. He's a very creative and inventive improviser with a great sound. Every solo was a joy to listen to.

- Mark and Steve's duet on a tune which title I can't remember (sorry - boy am I ever a lousy Jazz critic!) was a very nice feature for Mark on the soprano saxophone and a nice contrast.

- Drummer Jerome Jennings has a great touch on the drums and can really groove hard and play with a deep intensity all while burning at a low dynamic level.

- Percussionist David Freeman played exactly what was needed and he and Jerome really complement each other as a drummer/percussionist team. Often percussionists in musical situation's such as this feel compelled to play ALL the time and play too much.....but Freeman chose his notes carefully and it really worked.

- Freeman is also an accomplished composer....his composition (another which I didn't catch the title of!) that used a Fela Kuti type of Afro-Beat was the highlight of the evening for me.

Make sure you catch this great band the next time they are in your neighborhood. Saskatoon....you are next !

Here's some footage of the band from a tour of Italy a few summers ago:

Still plenty of great music to check out tonight and this weekend. Please support live Jazz in Calgary.

Drummer Sandro Dominelli has a great band down at the Beatniq this evening with bassist Chris Tarry and guitarist Rez Abassi.
This should be good.

edit: btw - if anyone's interested....I am playing at Giuseppe's Italian Market (1207 1st Street SW) this evening with bassist John Gray and Keith Smith on guitar starting at 7pm. Will be a swingin' affair (with good pizza!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jazz Lives In Calgary

With the recent last minute cancellation and demise of the Calgary Jazz Festival, I've been amazed and disappointed at the large amount of negative commentary that has been directed towards the viability of Jazz music and the arts in general in Calgary and Alberta at large.

There are great musicians in this community and there is definitely an audience for this music (and an enthusiastic one at that!)

The bottom line is this: bad business and irresponsible financial decisions can happen anywhere - this whole situation with the festival is NOT a reflection of how Calgarians view Jazz music.

Perhaps we as a musical community can improve on how we build and develop our local audience....but I also think that goes for every city in Canada including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Cindy McLeod has put the word out and organized a march of solidarity for the city's Jazz musicians and fans today at Olympic Plaza starting at 4pm to raise awareness.

Here's a copy of the press release that has gone out:

"Let's lend our voices to celebrating what's right with jazz in Calgary - our incredible pool of talent, fans who've remained loyal through thick & thin, venues who are presenting many of the shows that were cancelled, & media who've consistently spread the message. Bring your instruments & voices join the jazz parade tomorrow, start at 4pm at Olympic Plaza & making it's way to Beat Niq, "Dixie" style."


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Terry Clarke Trio

Well, the Calgary Jazz Festival should have started yesterday but of course was cancelled at the 11th hour due to financial problems. Here's a recent Calgary Herald article with the latest news:


Fortunately there are still a handful of shows proceeding this week at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club and, I should add, all the shows feature outstanding touring Canadian Jazz groups. Still lots of good music to take in this week ! Props to Beatniq owner Rob Young for sticking to his guns and agreeing to proceed despite the festival's demise.

I guess I'll refer to this as the "Beatniq All-Canadian Jazz Festival" from now on?

Tuesday evening's show at the Beatniq featured drummer Terry Clarke and his trio with Phil Dwyer on saxophone and Don Thompson on bass. Terry, who once referred to himself as "the eternal sideman", was in fine form in the role as bandleader and was promoting the music from his debut and Juno award-winning album "It's About Time".

Here's a clip of Clarke speaking about how his "debut" album came about:

I attended both the early and late shows yesterday evening and was glad I did ! Last night's performance was the first of a two week national tour for the band. Terry referred to the Calgary show as their "rehearsal"....but these musicians have such a history playing together that it was really like three really good friends playing together on stage. When you put great musicians who have played together ALOT great things are bound to happen.

I've seen Clarke play with a number of different groups over the years but this configuration was special for me as it was very exciting to hear him finally lead his own group and see him call the shots. Clarke played with an uncompromising sense of rhythmic leadership and energetic swing that only a drummer as band leader can provide !!! Also, Clarke is a master orchestrator of the drum set and he really uses his options of drums and cymbals to the fullest, providing contrasting rhythmic "canvases" to accompany his fellow musicians.

The repertoire they played included an eclectic mix of tunes including McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance" (starting the evening with a drum solo with mallets....perfect!), two spirited and very different versions of "St. Thomas" (the latter of the two featured Phil roaming the back of the club while playing...yeah!), a tribute to drummer Jerry Fuller in the form of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin", a couple of Don Thompson originals (including "Peregrine Blues"), Herbie Hancock's classic "Driftin'", a beautiful ballad rendition of "I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face" and "Village Green" (a spirited uptempo blues originally featured on an Elvin Jones trio album that featured Joe Farrell). My favorite piece of the evening was a spirited rendition of Sonny Rollin's "Freedom Suite" - played in it's entirety !

A very cool aspect of this "trio" is that it was actually three trios (or a "discount big band" as Clarke referred to it on the microphone!). Most of the set consisted of Phil on tenor and Don on bass but Dwyer and Thompson would occasionally switch to piano at various times to change things up. A very nice contrast and brought a nice dynamic to the overall evening, I thought.

I would strongly urge anyone who has the opportunity to see this group during their tour to check them out. These three musicians have a such a great chemistry playing together, let's hope that they record again once their tour is finished !

I was fortunate to study Jazz drumming with Clarke during my first year of my Doctoral studies at the University of Toronto two years ago. It was an incredible experience and a great opportunity to learn from someone with such a diverse performing career as his. We spent a lot of time studying the style of Tony Williams and Clarke's first-hand knowledge of post-bop 1960s Jazz drumming was an invaluable lesson in itself.

And last, but not least, here's a few youtube clips of Terry Clarke in action.

First, here's Clarke with pianist Bernie Senensky at Toronto's Trane Studio:

And here with pianist Bill Mays and bassist Neil Swainson from a CBC broadcast:

And finally here is "Professor" Clarke in action from a masterclass at York University playing the piece "Nardis" with a group of university students:

More great shows at the Beatniq all this week.

Please get out and support live Jazz in Calgary !

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Calgary Jazz Festival ???

The Calgary Jazz Festival was due to start tomorrow and I was enthusiastically looking forward to taking in concerts every evening, catching some great music and blogging about my overall experience this week. There looked to be a stellar line-up of world-class Jazz musicians scheduled to perform (ie. Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Cedar Walton, Poncho Sanchez and more...) as well as a very talented pool of local and Canadian Jazz artists.

Unfortunately the latest reports from the CBC are that the 2010 Calgary Jazz Festival has now been cancelled:


I've heard bits and pieces about the problems that the festival has been dealing with lately but was shocked that they pulled the plug on the festival literally the day before it was due to start !

I'm not in a position to point fingers or judge precisely why this has happened however I feel very badly for all the musicians who were due to perform and are now left hanging. As a professional musician who has toured extensively and occasionally has had to deal with last minute show cancellations while on the road, I can sincerely say this....that it sucks !

Overall, this current situation is very disappointing and I'm sure that the fallout from this will have some long term repercussions.

Fortunately, according to their e-newsletter I received this afternoon, our local Calgary Jazz club, The Beatniq, will still be honoring it's bookings this week and will feature drummer Terry Clarke and his trio (featuring Terry Clarke on drums, Phil Dwyer on saxophone and Don Thompson on bass), Montreal saxophonist Andre LeRoux and Toronto bassist Rich Brown's band Rinsethealgorhythm. I'm happy to see that at least some portion of the festival will be salvaged and feature some of the outstanding Canadian Jazz musicians that are touring this summer. Unfortunately, however, this doesn't help any of the local musicians who had contracts for other gigs elsewhere during the festival.

I will certainly attend what concerts I can this week and support what's left of this year's festival and blog about the music I do hear this week. I'm wondering out loud here if anything else will still go on despite the festival being cancelled. The nightly sessions at the Auburn Saloon ? (I was scheduled to play there with pianist Egor Ukoloff and Simon Fisk on bass on Wednesday night) What about the Drip Audio Nights series scheduled for the Palamino ? If anyone hears anything about what's happening this week besides the shows at the Beatniq, please let me know.

Overall this is a serious blow to the Calgary Jazz scene - and I should add that I do think Calgary deserves AND can support a properly run and quality Jazz festival. There is indeed an audience for this music here and a healthy scene of great jazz musicians here in Calgary to draw from.

Perhaps some good will eventually come of this situation and allow for local musicians and Jazz enthusiasts to take a hard look at the current situation and come up with some tangible and realistic solutions towards presenting Jazz music in Calgary in a responsible and sustainable manner.

It can be done....Edmonton faced a similar situation a number of years ago and after much re-structuring their Jazz festival is now thriving. Smaller communities such as Medicine Hat and Saskatoon can also support Jazz festivals so there is no reason it can't be done here.

Ironically, the Calgary Jazz Festival collapsed in 2006 and was salvaged at the last minute by a different group of organizers. However, I would be surprised if the festival were to be rescued again this late in the game....

In the meantime, Calgary's Jazz fans will have to wait at least another year to see a local Jazz festival....or travel to Edmonton or Medicine Hat to get their fill !

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Neal Smith

Some fine drumming here from young lion Neal Smith. I first heard Neal a few years ago with pianist Cyrus Chestnut's trio. I was mightily impressed then and he is really playing great these days.

Here's a few shots showing Neal's tremendous command of the instrument:

Here's an interview with Neal from the Bosphorus cymbal company:

Be on the lookout for this album of Neal's from the Small's Live record label:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Paul Motian w/Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden

Brilliant free improvisation (as far as I can tell !) from the trio of Keith Jarrett on piano, Charlie Haden on bass and Paul Motian on drums from a concert in Germany circa. 1972:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Aaron Bell Trio

Someone posted this great (and somewhat obscure!) album on youtube.com of long-time Duke Ellington bassist Aaron Bell accompanied by Hank Jones on piano and the brush Master Ed Thigpen on drums.

Check out a few tracks from this swingin' album "After The Party's Started":

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jesse Cahill - Vancouver Jazz Drummer & Blogger

Yet another jazz drumming related blog has hit the blogosphere from fellow Canadian Jazz drummer Jesse Cahill.

Check out Jesse Cahill's new blog at:


Lots of great things there including an insight into his impressive LP collection and several great drum lessons dealing with variations on 12/8 Afro-Cuban patterns.

Jesse is a fine drummer from Vancouver. He and I spent time together studying at McGill University in Montreal during the mid-1990s. He's is a serious student of the music and a force to be reckoned with when he holds a pair of brushes!

Here's Cahill in action with another Montreal ex-pat, Steve Kaldestad on tenor saxophone, from a live recording date at Vancouver's Cellar Jazz Club:

And here's some footage of Jesse showing off his sweet Canopus drums:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Live Action Blue Note Album Covers

Very clever !

Hi-Fi from bante on Vimeo.

Props to Calgary bassist Kodi Hutchinson for forwarding this one to me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Billy Hart Cooks

Here's Billy Hart in action with "The Cookers", an all-star band consisting of Eddie Henderson & David Weiss on trumpet, Craig Handy on alto saxophone, Billy Harper on tenor, Kirk Lightsey on piano and Cecil McBee on piano from a live date in Europe:

Billy takes no prisoners !

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Terry Gibbs & Terry Pollard

From a 1956 episode of the Tonight Show with Steve Allen, here's vibraphonist Terry Gibbs in a sort of musical vibra-duel with his pianist, Terry Pollard (and she's a fine vibraphonist as well !!!):

Thanks to Professor Patrick Boyle who recently forwarded that one to me.

And here's some more great footage of Terry Gibbs in action, this time featured with the Buddy Rich big band from a 1948 short.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Terry Gibbs is the Buddy Rich of the vibraphone !

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Enjoy Your Weekend....With Roy Haynes !

A great solo to get the weekend off to a nice start.....here's Master Roy Haynes in action from a recent hit in Barcelona:

A real lesson in patience, dynamics and drama here !

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Post: Patrick Boyle

This marks the first in a series of guest blog posts here at Four On The Floor. Today's special guest is trumpeter/composer Patrick Boyle, a fine jazz improviser and visionary, originally from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and soon-to-be Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Victoria. I first met Patrick when we started our Doctorate degrees together at the University of Toronto and have been close colleagues, good friends and musical collaborators ever since.

Patrick is an incredibly articulate and creative musician and I have learned an immense amount from him both on the bandstand and while sharing a pint or two (or several!!!) at the Duke of York.

So without further adieu, may I present the ever informative Mr. Patrick Boyle:

I'm thrilled to contribute a guest post on Four on the Floor. Jon and I are doctoral students at the University of Toronto. Over the years, and many beers, we've had countless conversations about our individual influences and education. We are kindred spirits (i.e. jazz nerds) to be sure. Even though we grew up in different parts of Canada (Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, neither exactly hotbeds of jazz music) we share a number of significant influences. Jazz radio was important, especially the CBC. All of this leads me to the topic of this short post: in the context of jazz music, what constitutes one's musical personality?

Jazz school is a funny thing. There are grades/evaluations involved, yet one of the founding principles of the music is to discover and project your own uniqueness within and through the genre. Would Monk get into an undergrad jazz program in 2010? Or Don Cherry? Ornette? It's hard to say, I guess it would depend on the openness of the particular program. It's fun to consider what institutions think is important.

My personal belief is that the best thing we can do is show students as broad a range of improvisational techniques, devices, and parameters as possible, and attempt to instill the imperative that it is their responsibility to CHOOSE which techniques, devices, and parameters mean the most to them. Then, when that sound you desire is in your head, you have to really believe in it. As I've been mulling the creation of unique personalities, I've been considering what happens within classical music. How do performers who rely on a score work alongside and away from the necessities of their genre to project their uniqueness? Obviously, it happens all the time. Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein are two fine examples.

Both share what I think is the key quality of any musician, jazz or otherwise: conviction. Conviction implies a certain amount of fearlessness. I am very interested in those musicians who take a great deal of liberty with the guidelines given on score in a provocative manner, but not for the sake of being provocative. Leaving yourself so open to critique can be hard to do, and both Gould and Bernstein are extremely articulate on and off stage. Check out Bernstein discussing the glacial tempo taken by Gould in Brahms Piano Concerto.

Ok, so I can't contribute to Jon's blog without adding something jazz related. We were both at this incredible gig on a cold night in January 2008. Dave Liebman, Mike Murley, Jim Vivian, and Ian Froman at the Rex. Four of the most convicted blokes around.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Drums.... (sort of)

I recently had a long time drum kit of mine refurbished by the master drum maker Ed Peck of Epek Percussion located in Regina, Saskatchewan.


I bought this set of Premier XPK fusion drums in 1991 and these were the first set of drums that I purchased with my own money as a teenager.

These drums have always sounded great and have literally been from one side of the country to the other and played on literally hundreds of gigs, in every style.

They are great drums, sound great and have lasted me for a long time now.

With mahogany shells they are easy to tune and, considering their somewhat "odd" sizes (in terms of depth), they have a wide tuning range that can accommodate a higher jazz bebop tuning to lower big band and rock tunings. It's been a very versatile and practical drum set for me over the years.

Unfortunately, nearly 20 years of use has taken it's toll on the shells, finish etc. so I thought it was time for an upgrade and some fine tuning to the bearing edges and hardware.

I was reluctant to sell these drums considering all the hours I had put into them and the memories they brought back. If only these drums could speak !

Fortunately Ed was able to bring some new life to these drums and they sound & look better then ever!

Here are the "before" photos:

And here are the "after" photos:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The John Bonham Story

A great documentary from the BBC on the life of THE greatest Rock n' Roll drummer of all time, John Bonham.

Check that out here:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bill Cosby on Jazz Drumming

This clip has been making the rounds for sometime now....but it's so perfect I had to post it.

Thank you to bassist Stefano Valdo for reminding me of this classic footage:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rodney Green with Mulgrew Miller

Going back a few years, but here's some really nice trio playing featuring drummer Rodney Green with pianist Mulgrew Miller:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Herlin Riley Speaks

A thought provoking interview with drummer Herlin Riley:

And here's some footage of Riley from a few years back performing with the Wynton Marsalis Septet:

I would also suggest checking out Herlin Riley's excellent book he co-wrote with drummer Johnny Vidacovich entitled "New Orleans Jazz & Second Line Drumming":

Some serious history there !

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dafnis Jams on LP

More nice footage of contemporary Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz drummer Dafnis Prieto, shown here demonstrating some products from LP percussion:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ronan Guilfoyle on Frameworks For Drum Solos

A brilliant short essay on some different compositional approaches incorporating drum solos from my favorite Irish bassist, Ronan Guilfoyle:


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jimmy Cobb

From a recent master class in Tel Aviv, maestro Jimmy Cobb lays it down on "St. Thomas":

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Kendrick Scott with Kurt Rosenwinkel

More footage of Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Eric Revis on bass and featuring Kendrick Scott on drums from a recent European tour on the standard "Invitation":

Dig the stick work at 9:08 !

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louis Hayes & Steve Nelson

Today's post features vibraphonist extraordinaire Steve Nelson with drummer Louis Haye's ensemble (along with Ron Carter on bass and Mulgrew Miller on piano):