Saturday, July 31, 2010

Matt Wilson & George Marsh

Some footage today of jazz drumming visionary Matt Wilson from a recent residency at Sonoma State University.

Here's Wilson in a duet with drummer George Marsh ( author of the text "Inner Drumming"):

And here's Matt playing with a group of students:

Here's an interview with drummer/author George Marsh where he talks about his unique drum method:

And here's another short (but sweet!) clip of Matt Wilson trading with John Scofield from a recent hit at New York's Iridium:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Idris Muhammad with Pharoah Sanders

A good drummer friend of mine from Toronto forwarded me this amazing footage of Idris Muhammad laying it down with no apologies, playing with tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (also dig John Hicks on piano):

Quite the epic piece of music and a great example of how to BURN for an extended period of time. That's intensity folks !

Hey, this is post number 300.

Thanks for your support.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rashied Ali Drum Clinic

From a Jazz workshop in Poland circa. 1997.

Here the master speak:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time Keeping Exercise

Here's a variation I came up with on a great time keeping exercise that both John Riley and Jerome Jennings showed me. I find this to be a great exercise to develop a "centre" to your pulse while at the same time working on your ride cymbal beat.

Basically the exercise is based on playing the ride cymbal pattern in 4/4 time, then modulating the same pattern except based on a quarter note triplet pulse then modulating again to a pulse based on eighth notes (double time).

Here are the cymbal patterns written out:

I would highly recommend playing this exercise along with a metronome or play-a-long CD such as Allan Cox' "Meet The Bass Player". Strive for exact execution of each pattern in time and flawless transitions between each pattern.

Now, I've been messing around with different foot patterns while playing those cymbal lines.

Trying the following feet patterns along with those cymbal exercises:

There are two ways to use these bass drum/hihat patterns with the above cymbal patterns:

1) Play each foot pattern but only change the cymbal beat (ie. the cymbal beat plays the new, faster tempo and the feet stay in the same tempo throughout)

2) Play each foot pattern AND follow the new pulse as the cymbal beat changes (ie. as the cymbal gets faster, so do the feet - locking into the new pulse)

You'll find these exercises will strengthen your inner pulse and help you hear and feel different but yet related tempos at the same time.

Warning: If you don't practice these with a metronome or external time source....you are wasting your time !

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ralph Peterson Plays Art Blakey

An interesting bit here from drummer and Berklee Professor Ralph Peterson Jr. shown here demonstrating the influential and hard swinging style of Art Blakey:

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Today marks the first of a new weekly column here at Four on The Floor.

The Monday Morning Paradiddle will be my weekly editorial on whatever random topics and assorted ideas I happen to be musing about relating to Jazz, music, drumming or whatever...

-Thank you to everyone who came out to my quintet gigs this past Friday and Saturday evenings at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club in Calgary. The band really played great, captured the essence of my original compositions and stretched out really nicely. The crowds were enthusiastic and I hope to do more playing with this great group of musicians in the future.

-How about those Riders? A bit of a humbling loss to the hometown Stampeders over the weekend but I think a good team like the Riders has to learn how to lose as much as it does learn to win in order to get the job done. I'm sure Darian Durant and the crew will learn from this and bounce back next week against the Hamilton Ti-Cats. Go Riders !

-I've really been enjoying the drumming of drummers Dick Berk, Victor Lewis and the late Tony Reedus lately. Very fine drummers who aren't household names but yet really know how to make whomever they are playing with sound good. Inspiring examples to follow...In particular the albums that Victor Lewis recorded with Canadian saxophonist P.J.Perry are text book examples of how to be a perfect accompanist on the drums with a band. Victor Lewis is also a very accomplished composer in his own right. Thanks for Jerome Jennings who turned me on to Victor's drumming.

-If you are into summer movies, may I recommend "Despicable Me". The minions are hilarious ! I downloaded the iPhone app.

- Speaking of other movies, check out drummer Tommy Igoe's latest drum instructional DVD "Great Hands For A Lifetime". Igoe is a great teacher and he breaks down hand technique in a very concise and practical manner. Lots of great information there and enough things to practice....for a lifetime !

Here's a teaser:

-I'm off to teach in Red Deer, Alberta this week for the annual MusiCamp Alberta summer workshop at Red Deer College. Looking forward to teaching and playing with the distinguished faculty and students this upcoming week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tonight & Tomorrow - The Jon McCaslin Quintet Live at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club July23/24

Just another quick plug here for an upcoming gig of mine this upcoming weekend that I'm quite excited about. On Friday, July 23rd and Saturday, July 24th I'll be performing at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club in Calgary (811 - 1st Street SW) with my latest project. I'll be leading a very fine quintet consisting of the saxophone powerhouse combination of Jim Brenan and Mark DeJong in the frontline with Ralf Buschmeyer on guitar and Brendan McElroy on bass holding down the fort in the rhythm section.

This is the first band I've assembled since I've returned to Calgary a year ago and I'm really quite excited to present this dynamic group of fine musicians to play my original compositions that I've been working on for the past year. I am also hoping to record my next album in the coming year or so, so this gig should be a nice launching pad for that recording project as well.

Should be an exciting couple of nights of music with some fantastic musicians.

Please come by and say hello !

The Jon McCaslin Quintet

Live at The Beatniq Jazz & Social Club

811 – 1st Street SW

Friday July 23rd

Saturday July 24th



Jon McCaslin – Drums & Compositions

Jim Brenan - Saxophones

Mark DeJong - Saxophones

Ralf Buschmeyer - Guitar

Brendan McElroy – Bass

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Drum Pad Presents Jeff Hamilton

From The Drum Pad's 20th Anniversary Show DVD, here's Jeff Hamilton playing some very inventive and melodic drum solos with sticks, brushes and his hands:

I've said this before, but I absolutely adore the intricate melodies that Hamilton gets out of this drums and cymbals.
And the lower tuning of his drums sounds great too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Tootie...

A few more clips today of Albert "Tootie" Heath in action with a few various groups:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh Manne...

A little Shelly Manne to enjoy:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Adam Nussbaum in Trio

Courtesy of soon-to-be Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Victoria, Mr. Patrick Boyle (and my very good friend!) here's a very nice clip of drummer Adam Nussbaum with pianist Kalman Olah and bassist Ron McClure:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Steve Fidyk

A few clips here of drummer Steve Fidyk from a recent clinic he presented for the Ludwig drum company.

I first met Steve at last year's PASIC conference in Indianapolis where he presented a very informative clinic on how to develop drum transcription skills.

Steve also holds the drum chair with the U.S. Army Blues big band and is a very accomplished big band drummer who has obviously done his homework !

Here's another clip from Steve where he demonstrates different textural approaches to the drums within a solo context:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Allison Miller

I've been buying a lot of music off of iTunes lately to keep me entertained during my travels across Canada during the past few months. We are really lucky to have so much good music available at our fingertips. There's nothing like a good infusion of fresh music to inspire and keep one motivated....especially when one is on the go, waiting in airports, ferry terminals and driving along seemingly never ending stretches of the number one highway. A number of my students last week were asking me "what do you listen to?". I will try to elaborate on that very important question in another future post as to what artists and albums have been making the rounds in my iPod and CD player lately.

One drummer/composer that recently came to my attention and impressed me was New York-based Jazz drummer Allison Miller.

Miller is a fine contemporary Jazz drummer and composer who approaches the music with creativity, musicality and authority. She has worked with a number of New York's leading Jazz musicians and she also tours extensively with singer/songwriters Ani DeFranco and Natalie Merchant, among others. According to her blog she was also slated to tour with the Lilith Fair this summer but no more since that tour was essentially cancelled (disappointing - a sign of the times perhaps?)

Anyways, check out Allison Miller's very happening albums as a leader "5am Stroll" and "Boom Tic Boom" if you get a chance:

You can learn more about her career and great music at her website:


Here's a few shots of Miller with her own group and as a sideman doing her thing:

And finally, a simple but important set of drum exercises written by Miller in this article entitled "The Melody Puzzle", designed to encourage one to think more melodically while drumming:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alan Dawson Plays

More footage of amazing drummers playing with Sonny Rollins.

Here's the master Alan Dawson laying it down:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lewis Nash...

...doing what he does best as always !

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Some killing playing here from drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, shown here playing with Sonny Rollins:

btw - sorry for the brief posts lately.

I just got home after a few weeks on the road. Need some time to catch up here !

Monday, July 12, 2010

Terry Clarke Trio in Montreal

Finally some great footage of drummer Terry Clarke and his trio, with Phil Dwyer and Don Thompson, has surfaced on youtube (from their recent Canadian Jazz festival tour).

Check out these fine musicians in action here, from the Montreal Jazz Festival, letting loose on the minor blues "Village Green" (with a nod to the Elvin Jones trio with Joe Farrell in there!):

I heard these guys in Calgary a few weeks ago. That was the first day of their tour. They sounded great and I'm sure they sounded even better once they reached the east coast.

Let's hope they plan to record again !

Sunday, July 11, 2010

For Brenda

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been out of town for the past couple of weeks performing at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and teaching at the Prairielands Jazz Camp in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was a busy week and I'm exhausted from a lack of proper sleep but the students were great and really rose to the occasion for Friday and Saturday's performances. Jazz lives in Saskatchewan !!!

Thank you to all the students, faculty and support staff who worked so hard to make this camp a success. Hope to see you all out again next year !

Unfortunately I received some very sad news last week that my good friend and mentor Brenda McAlpine passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Brenda was a good friend and an important teacher of mine during my younger years. When I first met Brenda I was in grade 10 and brand new to the concept of small group Jazz improvisation when I worked with her in a small group she coached for the Regina Lions Band. She was very patient and encouraging with us - especially considering that I didn't have a clue what I was doing (!) She really went out of her way to help us discover the world of Jazz music and it's infinite possibilities. I still enjoy listening to the many recordings she introduced me to including "Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazz Men" (one of my all-time favorites). She taught me to always put the music first and listen carefully to what was going on around me at all times. Her teachings helped set the pace for my career as a Jazz drummer in the years to come.

I last saw Brenda during the first week of May when she asked me to give a workshop to her percussion students at Bowness High School in Calgary. I hadn't seen her in a number of years and was not only delighted to see her and catch up on our lives, but I was also happy to see that she had returned to teaching after having pursued other directions in her life after so many years.

Brenda was a great spirit and inspiration to all.
She will be missed...

Here is copy of her obituary that appeared in the Calgary Herald:

Brenda McAlpine

September 15, 1943 July 7, 2010 Brenda McAlpine passed away after a three week battle with cancer on July 7, 2010 at the Agape Hospice in Calgary, AB. Brenda was born September 15, 1943 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire in a hearse under a Horse chestnut tree, to Benjamin and Ida Butterfield of Antrim, NH. Brenda became a budding musician at an early age. Her first degree was from Plymouth State University where she earned a Bachelor of Education in Music. Later when she moved to Regina, SK, Brenda studied medicine for three years but later she returned to her first love music. Graduating from University of Northern Colorado with a Masters degree in Music Education Brenda then branched into a new area of study when she completed another Masters Degree but this time in Franciscan History at St. Bonaventure University in NY. Brenda's passion for life compelled her to do the best she could at any undertaking, and this included her second love, sports. She took golf to the limit. At one time, Brenda was ranked as one of the ten best amateur female golfers in Canada. Recently, she was a member at Bearspaw Country Club in Calgary, AB and golfers are welcome to wear golfing attire in respect for her love of the game. Brenda also expressed compassion in everything she did especially in her expression of love for people. Brenda's diversified careers and education kept her life at a busy pace but she always found time to listen and help whenever she was asked. Brenda taught music from 1971-2002 as the Music Director for the Regina Public School System, where she directed twenty-five Broadway style productions, numerous jazz bands, combos and vocal jazz choirs which won prodigious provincial and national awards. Not only did she teach in Regina, she also contributed to the music scene as a member of several groups, which included the Saskatchewan Symphony Orchestra. Brenda's final teaching position was at Bowness High School in Calgary where she gave her last concert on May 26, 2010. Anyone wishing to honor Brenda's musical accomplishments may dress in black and white as this was the costuming that the students wore during Brenda's last performance. Brenda's spiritual career as Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, AB allowed her to blend her musical skill with her belief in God. She developed innovative programs combining music and Spirituality and as a result created a positive and healing environment for both staff and clients alike. Collaborative teamwork became a way of life as Brenda shared her skills and knowledge. Naturally, Brenda was an active member of her community. She served on the Board of Directors of the Regina Jazz Society, the Wascana Country Club, the Rotary Club in Cochrane and Villas Glen Eagles where she lived. As you go forward in life, you will identify Brenda in others. When you see a beautiful smile, you will remember that Brenda only spoke kind words. When you see knowing eyes, you will remember that Brenda only saw the best in you. When you see a poised stance, you will remember that Brenda knew she never walked alone. When you see the world transforming, you will remember all the lives Brenda touched. And as we were touched, let us touch others in Brenda's memory. Surviving relatives include her sister Mary Lou Bell and Mary Lou's husband Dudley; as well as nieces and nephews, Cassie, David, Peter, Jimmy, Jill, Lyn, and Ben; stepchildren, Bill, Cindy, Bob, and Tom; and her grandchildren. Her family also included her beloved dogs, Aggie and Willie. Brenda was predeceased by her parents Benjamin and Ida; her brother, James; and her husband Ted Yarnton. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral (219 18th Avenue S.W. Calgary, AB) on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The mass will include communion and a celebration of Brenda's life will be held in the adjoining church hall. All musicians are asked to bring an instrument to add to the joy of this celebration of Brenda's life. Wherever you are on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., we ask that you please take a moment to reflect on Brenda's life and feel joy. You may forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com . If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, 215 12 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 1A2 Telephone: (403) 205-3966. In living memory of Brenda McAlpine, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park, Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 Crowfoot Circle N.W., Calgary, AB. Telephone: (1-800-661-1599).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Only Tony Williams...

...can get away with those big black dots on his drumheads !!!

I also came across this amazing footage of Tony playing in trio with Herbie Hancock and bassist Ira Coleman from the BBC:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Steve Smith Practices At Home

Some interesting home footage here of drummer Steve Smith practicing, recorded on his Zoom recorder:

And here is Smith performing a solo piece based a on 5 beat motif entitled "Khanda West":

Smith has a produced a number of great instructional DVDs that I highly recommend. They include:

Drum Set Technique/History of The U.S. Beat

Drum Legacy: Standing on The Shoulders of Giants

The Art of Playing With Brushes

All highly recommended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

And It Begins...

Well, the Saskatchewan Roughriders managed to edge out a 54-51 overtime win over the Montreal Alouettes last night at Taylor Field (okay....Mosaic Stadium) for their season opener.

It was a thrilling game although, I would suggest that the Riders considering employing this guy as their special teams coach so they can learn to count to 13 next time:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tony Reedus

Drummer Jerome Jennings and I recently spent some time hanging out and talking in depth about drums and drummers. The name Tony Reedus came up a few times and Jerome suggested that I check out this album by late Reedus who recently passed away in the past year at the way too young age of 49.

Check out Tony's fine playing here with Joe Lovano on tenor and Tom Harrell on trumpet on "Fort Worth":

This tune was also included on Lovano's double CD "Quartet's" that featured drummers Billy Hart and Lewis Nash. Still one of my all-time favorites !

I remember seeing Lovano during the summer of 1996 at the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Saskatoon shortly after this album was released. The band (which featured Lovano with pianist Kenny Werner, Anthony Cox on bass and Yoron Israel on drums) opened with "Fort Worth" and left a deep impression on me. Lovano always has great drummers playing with him !

Happy Canada Day everybody !