Thursday, September 30, 2010

Elvin Jones Trio

Now here's a real gem !

Some rare footage of the Elvin Jones trio in Japan from the late 1960s !!!

Dig the red jacket, bow tie and some killing brush playing from Elvin...

While we're on the topic of Elvin Jones and his trios, here is some more footage here with saxophonist Joe Farrell:

And another, more recent trio with organist Joey DeFrancesco performing A Night In Tunisia:

And lastly here's a great radio interview with Elvin:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


This one's for my friend, Regina bassist and visionary Carlo Petrovitch.

Today's post features Latin Jazz drummer Ignacio Berroa with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and bassist Carlos Henriquez performing a very hip version of the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol standard Caravan:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Long days on the road catching up with you, Joe ? (just kidding...)

Some nice footage here of drummer Joe Farnsworth from a recent gig of his showing his super swinging cymbal beat:

And here's some Canadian television promo footage of Joe playing with the band One For All, promoting their recent hit in Vancouver:

Now I could be mistaken, but are those Jesse Cahill's drums he's using? (hmmm that snare drum in particular looks really familiar - but I could be wrong)

Dig how he's playing sans tom or floor tom and NO hihat and it's swingin' like mad....of course it is!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Return of The Monday Morning Paradiddle...

And....we're back !

Thanks to some clever planning and foresight on my part I was able to preprogram my blog to post while I was touring Italy for the past three weeks. Now I'm back home and will hopefully have some time to post more frequently and substantially. The wine and weather was fabulous although I think I can take a break from pasta for awhile...

Thank you to everyone has been emailing me from around the world lately regarding my blog. Your support is very much appreciated. If you'll notice, I installed a blog counter on the side of the page. I am flattered that over ten thousand people have visited my site since it's inception during the spring of 2009.

And yes, I will try to post more drum lessons on a consistent basis as well. These things take time ya' dig ?

A few random things that have been on my mind lately:

- I got a lot of use out of my ipod during my travels over the past month, especially considering the extensive flights, train rides and ferry trips we took. Here's a list of some of the music I enjoyed while touring the hills of Tuscany:

Kenny Clarke - "Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazzmen" - Kenny Clarke - Drums

Mark McLean's Playground - "Playground" - Mark McLean - Drums

Steve Nelson Quartet - "Communication" - Tony Reedus - Drums, Steve Nelson - Vibraphone

John Ellis & Double Wide - "Puppet Mischief" - Jason Marsalis - Drums

Kendrick Scott - "Reverence" - Kendrick Scott - Drums

Michal Karn - "In Focus" - Gregory Hutchinson - Drums

Kenny Barron - "Images" - Kim Thompson - Drums, Stefon Harris - Vibraphone

P.J.Perry - "My Ideal" & "Worth Waiting For" - Victor Lewis - Drums

Valery Ponomarev - "Beyond The Obvious" - Jerome Jennings - Drums

Third World Love - "Avanim" - Daniel Freedman - Drums

Barry Harris - "At The Jazz Workshop" - Louis Hayes - Drums

- Check out this clip of saxophonist Earl Bostic featuring some virtuostic saxophone playing sent to me from drummer Bob McLaren via saxophonist Cam Ryga:

I could be mistaken but I think Philly Joe Jones toured with Bostic's R&B band during the early 50s (?)

- If you happen to be flying with Air Canada anytime soon, be sure to check out the documentary "RUSH: Beyond the Lighted Stage" featured on the inflight entertainment (of course you could always just rent it or download it from itunes and save yourself the hassle of buying a plane ticket, going through airport security, etc...)

RUSH was a hugely influential band for me when I was in junior high school. They were really the first band that I really got into while searching for my adolescent musical identity. In particular their album "Exit Stage Left" convinced me that Neil Peart was a drumming GOD and his epic drum solo on YYZ was really something else, unlike anything I'd ever heard before (I had yet to get into Jazz music by that point). Years later I was shocked to learn that Peart composed everyone of his drum solos note for note and would play them exactly the same from night to night. That's an impressive feat in itself !

The documentary is an excellent insight into the history of the band and the phenomenon that has existed around RUSH since the late 60s (!) when Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson founded RUSH while still in high school (!) There is lots of commentary from current rock musicians and personalities who talk about the influence of RUSH on their careers. In particular check out actor/comedian/musician Jack Black's comments. He had me laughing out loud in the airplane. (is it true that Jack Black is Charlie Haden's son-in-law? Now that's one family Christmas dinner I would like to sit in on!)

Anyways, this documentary is highly recommended:

- Just another quick note: look out for a few special guest posts in the weeks to come. Several high profile Jazz drummers have graciously offered to contribute their ideas to Four on the Floor.

So stay tuned !

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jazz & Democracy

Some interesting commentary here on the democratic nature of Jazz music and it's relationship to the American ideal:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Johnathan Blake

I first met drummer Johnathan Blake in Toronto a few years ago. I was studying composition with saxophonist Tim Ries at the time at the University of Toronto and when Tim couldn't make his teaching commitments he would often send a sub from New York to teach for him. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Johnathan Blake during one of Tim's absence's. Johnathan is a very fine drummer who's been playing with the likes of Kenny Barron, Russell Malone, the Mingus Big Band, Omer Avital and Tom Harrell lately. When you see him play the first thing you'll notice is how extremely low and flat he sets up his cymbals. I experimented with that myself a long time ago in Montreal. Bassist Sage Reynolds used to refer to this setup as "Jon's Buffet" (!) I've since move them up again with the cymbals angled again however this setup works well for Johnathan. He is a very accomplished musician and I expect we'll hear more of this great drummer in the future.

Here he is with bassist Omer Avital (one of my favorite contemporary Jazz composers these days):

With Kenny Barron and trio:

Here with his own trio featuring saxophonist Jaleel Shaw:

And some great footage with the Tom Harrell Quintet:

And finally here with the Mingus big band:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Max Roach Solo Concert


Can you tell that he's my favorite ?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Terry Gibbs Plays The Music of Tiny Kahn

Here's a clip of vibraphonist Terry Gibbs leading a great big band featuring Jeff Hamilton on drums performing Tiny Kahn's composition "Father Kickerbopper":

Tiny Kahn was a great bebop drummer who died tragically at a young age (and he certainly was not "tiny" !) but whose influence remains significant, even today. Mel Lewis cited Kahn as a significant influence during his upbringing and he was also a prolific composer and arranger. In fact, many sources claim that it was Tiny Kahn that wrote the bebop anthem "Donna Lee" NOT Charlie Parker or Miles Davis as commonly thought (!)

My favorite Tiny Kahn album would have to be "Stan Getz at Storyville". Check out Kahn's ride cymbal variations on those fast numbers. Some of that ride cymbal playing predates Tony Williams by like ten years !

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bobby Hutcherson's Poetry

Just a brief post today featuring an all-star band playing Bobby Hutcherson's classic composition "Little B's Poem":

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Charles Lloyd & Billy Higgins

Some extraordinary footage here of saxophonist Charles Lloyd with guitarist John Abercrombie, Larry Grenadier on bass and my hero Billy Higgins on drums from a concert in Marciac, France:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ralph Peterson Jr. Up Close

A brief interview and some fantastic footage of Ralph Peterson Jr. playing up close:

It's playing like this that inspires me to add more drums and many cymbals to my set-up !

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nasheet Waits For No One...

Killing playing here from drummer Nasheet Waits:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lewis Nash with Tamir Hendelman

Nice trio footage of one of my favorite contemporary Jazz drummers, Lewis Nash shown here playing with pianist Tamir Hendelman:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peter Erksine and The Future of Drumset Pedagogy

A interesting couple of clips here of Peter Erskine demonstrating some concepts with the help of some Roland electronic drums:

I can't say that I've personally had much experience playing electronic drum sets, however I'm impressed that Erskine teaches a very innovative drum set proficiency course at the University of Southern California that involves these instruments being used on a classroom level with large groups of students.

I've long been an advocate of any sort of class or curriculum at the college and unversity level that deals with not only the teaching and study of rhythm but actual drum set pedagogy for non-drummers as well. With piano proficiency being standard fare in Jazz studies programs, I've long argued that some sort of drum set proficiency course be offered as well. There is a long list of accomplished Jazz instrumentalists that also play the drums (for example: Dave Liebman, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Don Thompson, Brad Turner, Kelly Jefferson, Peter Apfelbaum and Michael Brecker just to name a few...) and the development of at least a few basic Jazz drumming concepts and coordination goes a long way in helping non-drummers develop their sense of time and rhythm.

A number of years ago I wrote a paper for my Jazz pedagogy seminar at McGill University during my Masters Degree that argued just that. However, the reality of how to implement the logistics of such a course was quickly pointed out to me by my advisor Kevin Dean. A classroom full of drum sets likely wouldn't work (unless you could afford a budget to accommodate a large sound proof lab with enough drum sets and an unlimited supply of earplugs!) I think that a classroom that used electronic drums (at the very least in a group situation) would be the ideal solution to teaching such a situation.

I'm impressed that Erskine and USC have taken such an initiative to implement such a course. Who else is going to step up to the plate ?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Buddy Rich Explained

No bus tapes or crude anti-Rich jokes here !

Just a clip of drummer Dick Cully breaking down and explaining a classic Buddy Rich drum pattern: