Monday, February 28, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Busy times these days.

-I had the pleasure of accompanying Vancouver tenor saxophonist and pianist Ross Taggart over the weekend at Calgary's premier Jazz venue, The Beatniq Jazz & Social Club along with Keith Smith on guitar, Rubim DeToledo on bass and Allistair Elliott on trumpet. The concerts were sponsored by the JAZZ IS Society of Alberta and Ross is truly one of Canada's national Jazz treasures. Vancouver is very lucky to have such a talented and world-class musician in their midst. The depth of his swing and creative ideas was inspiring and I think everyone rose to the occasion. Some of the weekend's highlights for me included Taggart's rendition of Cedar Walton's "Holy Land" and one of my all-time favorite bebop heads, Dexter Gordon's "Fried Bananas". His bluesy and harmonically/rhythmically angular solo piano introduction to the blues finishing off Saturday evening's show also had me shaking my head. Good times.

-Rehearsals start to get much more frequent and more intense this week for the upcoming Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production of Wilds choreographed by Kimberly Cooper with original music written by Rubim DeToledo and Chris Andrew. I'm really excited to be a part of this creative project. I have lots more to say about my involvement with this but I will save that for another later post...

Here's a brief little production video showing us workshopping some music for the show:

The making of the music for Wilds from Decidedly Jazz Danceworks on Vimeo.

For more information about this show and the company check out their website here: www.decidedlyjazz.com

-I learned a little about Newfoundland Jazz history today via these following two clips. Newfoundland vibraphonist (and tenor saxophonist) Jimmy Thomson was described to me by my trusted colleague Patrick Boyle as being an "institution" with regards to the history and development of Jazz music in the province of Newfoundland:

Apparently Thomson is recovering from recent heart surgery. I wish him all the best, a speedy recovery and I hope to someday meet him and pick up some vibraphone tips from him.

-Thanks to the kind people over at Evan's Drumheads, here's a great clip of Kim Thompson in action, a drummer who's definitely one of my favorite groove/swinging drummers these days who plays really great whether with Beyonce or Mike Stern or Kenny Barron:

-Oh yes, congratulations to Team Saskatchewan that recently claimed victory and demonstrated their curling dominance over at the Scottie's Tournament of Hearts this weekend (just a quick shout out here to all my readers who also happen to be fans of women's curling!)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More Jeff Ballard Trio

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than checking out Jeff Ballard?

Well I guess we could be practicing....but watching these is okay and a lesson in itself too!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Making Music: Dave King

A fantastic interview today with drummer Dave King of the acclaimed trio, The Bad Plus (it's a long one, so get comfortable!):

I heard King with the Bad Plus over at Ronnie Scott's in London during the fall of 2009. He plays with a very original identity, sound and vocabulary - all very enjoyable and inspiring to listen to. Here's a few other clips of Dave King in action:

And just a reminder, I'm playing tonight and tomorrow night at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club in Calgary, AB with Vancouver saxophonist and pianist Ross Taggart:

JAZZ IS Society of Alberta Presents:

Ross Taggart - Vancouver Saxophonist & Pianist

Live @ The Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
811 - 1st SW Calgary, Alberta

Friday, February 25 - Saturday, February 26



Ross Taggart - Tenor Saxophone/Piano
Allistair Elliott - Trumpet
Keith Smith - Guitar
Rubim De Toledo - Bass
Jon McCaslin - Drums

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2 Drummers, 1 Trumpet Player & Some Saxophone Guy

Some interesting music today featuring two drummers, Eric Harland & Ferenc Nemeth, with Avishai Cohen on trumpet and Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone:

I first heard Ferenc with Lionel Loueke's trio at the 2008 IAJE conference/funeral in Toronto. This guy is ridiculous !!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vibes & Drums

Some nice duets today here brought to us by drummer Hamid Drake and vibraphonist Pasquale Mirra:

I really dig the drum/vibraphone duet combination and that particular sonic percussion texture. Reminds me of the Ed Blackwell and Karl Berger duet recordings from awhile ago. I also heard vibraphonist Jay Hoggard and drummer Yoron Israel play like this two years ago at the 2009 PASIC conference in Indianapolis. This is definitely a setting I intend to explore myself in the future as an aspiring vibraphonist.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Up Close with Eric McPherson

More up close.....REALLY up close footage of drummer Eric McPherson today:

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Monday Late Afternoon/Early Evening Paradiddle

It's been a long couple of days of rehearsing with the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks dance company but still time for a brief post today (if not a little late!) Here's a few random things on my mind:

-I've been listening to a lot of Dave Holland's recent quintet, octet and big band music lately, and of course in addition to being a real lesson in composing and playing over odd meters, it's also always an opportunity to appreciate the fine playing of vibraphonist Steve Nelson. Here is a nice interview with Nelson from an article at allaboutjazz.com:


It's a great interview, but I had to chuckle when I read about his account of playing in George Shearing's band along with the Canadian Jazz musicians "Neil Swenson" and "Red Schwager" : )

Just a random thought...I'd love to hear Dave Holland record a trio date with Steve Nelson on vibes with Dafnis Prieto on drums.
An interesting combination to ponder!

-Speaking of Dave Holland, here's more inspiring footage of Al Foster with Joe Henderson's trio:

-Take the time to check out Billy Martin's masterclass/woodshed article in the latest issue of Downbeat magazine. He's a great musician but also very articulate as well and I find his overall philosophy and words of wisdom regarding music to be inspiring and motivating.

-And another interesting interview with Kendrick Scott thanks to the kind people over at Vater drumsticks:

-Check out this smoking footage of Eddie Palmieri via Conor Guilfoyle:

-I have an exciting weekend of gigs coming up with Vancouver saxophonist/pianist Ross Taggart:

JAZZ IS Society of Alberta Presents:

Ross Taggart - Vancouver Saxophonist & Pianist

Live @ The Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
811 - 1st SW Calgary, Alberta

Friday, February 25 - Saturday, February 26



Ross Taggart - Tenor Saxophone/Piano
Allistair Elliott - Trumpet
Keith Smith - Guitar
Rubim De Toledo - Bass
Jon McCaslin - Drums

See you there !

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Paal Nilssen-Love

A few ones today of European drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, an exciting drummer with a very unique (and dare I say "Han Bennink"-like) approach to the drum set:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Otis Brown III on Cymbals

Today here's some footage of drummer Otis Brown III talking about his choice in cymbals brought to us by the fine people over at the Zildjian cymbal company:

Otis is a fine drummer that was first brought to my attention through his great playing with Joe Lovano's US Five project that features not one but two great drummers (along with his drum brother Francisco Mela holding down the rhythm fort). Brown is also a frequent accomplice of bassist Esperanza Spalding, the fine young musician who recently won the Grammy award for best new artist. Fine company to be in, indeed !

Friday, February 18, 2011


Some footage today of one of my all-time favorite groups, the Gateway Trio featuring Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and John Abercrombie:

I have bassist Sage Reynolds to thank for turning me on to this great band during one of our many frequent excursions to the used CD and record store "Cheap Thrills" in Montreal on Rue Metcalfe during my time at McGill University during the mid 1990s.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How To Play A Jazz Samba

Here's a few great examples of how to translate Brazilian rhythms to the drum set in a very musical way.

Thanks to Mark Eisenman who brought this great clip to my attention via the Facebook, here's guitarist Ed Bickert with bassist
Dave Young and the masterful Terry Clarke on drums performing a great rendition of "Street of Dreams":

Terry has a real grasp of playing Samba and Bossa Nova on the drum set. From my time hanging out and studying with him in Toronto I know that he was very much influenced by Brazilian Jazz drummer Duduka Da Fonseca during his time in New York City. Duduka is also the author of the acclaimed book "Brazilian Rhythms for Drum set".

During our lessons Terry also sang the praises of Sergio Gomes' recent method book "New Ways of Brazilian Drumming" which everyone should definitely check out:

I caught Sergio's clinic at the 2008 IAJE convention in Toronto and his playing and method was outstanding.

And since I'm on a bit of a Steve Gadd kick these days, here's a few videos of Gadd demonstrating his fine approach to playing Brazilian rhythms on the drums:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Steve Gadd Shuffles

If you are interested in getting your shuffle together, watch these as performed by the master:

And I know this isn't a shuffle, but I thought it was pretty cool anyways....here's Steve Gadd in a groovy latin drum set duet with percussionist Airto Moreira:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ralph Irizarry - PASIC 2010

Some footage today of percussionist Ralph Irizarry from his excellent session at this past years PASIC 2010 convention in Indianapolis:

Vic Firth has also posted clips of his clinic here and they are all worth checking out if you are interested in learning about authentic Salsa rhythms.

On an unrelated note, pianist George Shearing passed away yesterday. Here's an impressive clip that also features Shearing with drummer Denzil Best on Best's bebop anthem "Move":

I only had the occasion to hear Shearing play live once, in a duet with Canadian bassist Neil Swainson, at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in 1996. It was impressive, if for nothing else, to hear his famous block chord voicings in person that night !

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

It's been a fun and busy few weeks travelling across Western Canada working with great musicians and teaching great students. But it's nice to be back home in Calgary and now with my laptop back in tip top shape I'm ready to go...

-I had the opportunity to do a lot of listening to a lot of great music during my travels lately. In particular, the drive between Regina and Calgary is pretty uneventful, so my car's CD player always gets a good workout ! Here's a few albums that made the drive more tolerable:

Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery "Smokin' at The Half Note" - Jimmy Cobb, drums

Griffith-Hiltz Trio "Now & Then" - Sly Juhas, drums - Don Thompson, vibraphone

Steve Kaldestad "Blow Up" - Jesse Cahill, drums

Dean McNeill Large Ensemble "Prairie Fire" - Ted Warren, drums

Joe Henderson "In 'n Out" - Elvin Jones, drums

Victor Lewis "Three Way Conversations" - Victor Lewis, drums

Herbie Hanock Trio "Herbie Hancock Trio '77" - Tony Williams, drums

Dave Liebman & Phil Markowitz "Manhattan Dialogues"

-A few readers took a shot at identifying my red sparkle drums from last week's post (a Valentine's Day special perhaps?) So for all the gear heads out there, this "frankenstein" kit consists of the following:

-12x8 and 14x12 Premier XPK toms (early 90s vintage and from the first kit I ever purchased!) with custom wood hoops made by Jody Lutz over at Stellar Drums & Hoops. The original finish was a black wrap and I had Ed Peck from EPEK Percussion recover them in a slick red sparkle wrap.

The wood hoops look and sound great. They really give the toms a warm, round sound and feel, even when cranked up for relatively higher tunings. I really appreciate the fact that they are more subtle and less bulky than the Ayotte or Yamaha style hoops.

-16x14 bass drum with matching red sparkle wrap custom made by Billy Blast drums from Orange County, California. Billy does fantastic work as well. The bass drum has a Gretsch decal on it as it was the only 16" inch Remo coated ambassador bass drum head I could find in Calgary (!)

-Only one reader managed to identify my snare drum in that setup, a 14x5.5 Yamaha Roy Haynes Signature Copper snare. It's a fine drum but damn is it heavy...

These are really fun drums to play around with these days. I originally considered selling the Premier kit about a year ago but I'm really glad that I hung onto them and invested some time and money into bringing some new life to them. I've put a lot of drumming kilometers on that kit over the years.

Here's a couple of interesting clips I came across lately to keep everyone entertained:

-Bill Stewart and Bill Carrothers piano/drums duet:

If you haven't heard the duet album these two already released, check it out !

-Yet another fine Max Roach piano & drums duet, this time featuring pianist Mal Waldron:

-And to finish out off today's Monday Morning Paradiddle, here's some brief (and rare!) footage of Toronto Jazz drummer Bob McLaren in action:

Bob is a great, hard swinging drummer and a good friend. I had the privilege of studying with Bob for a year during my time at the University of Toronto. His approach to Jazz coordination on the drum set is compelling and in depth. Make sure to check out Bob out whenever you can !

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kim Thompson with Mike Stern

Just a few clips today of drummer Kim Thompson from a couple of recent performances at New York's 55 Bar and Small's, laying it down...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ed Blackwell !!!

This one is for Peter Hum over at jazzblog.ca

Nothing to say here.

The music speaks for itself today...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On The Road...

I'm currently teaching in Saskatchewan, slowly making my way home to Alberta. So between that and with my laptop in the shop these days getting its logic board replaced my blogging will be light for awhile...(what is a logic board anyways???)

In the meantime, here's a few pics of one of my drum sets from a recent rehearsal with Calgary's distinguished contemporary dance company, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. I'm playing with the upcoming DJD production entitled "Wilds" for the month of March and looking forward to working with resident choreographer Kimberly Cooper, musical director/bassist Rubim De Toldeo and the rest of the highly talented troupe of dancers & musicians. More on this later...

So anyways here's some photos of my drums (because I haven't much else to blog about today!) I'm no Jesse Cahill when it comes to Jazz drumming-photography.....but if you can name what brand(s) of drums these are, you will win a special Four On The Floor prize!

HINT: There are FOUR brands of drums represented here and NONE of them are made by Gretsch : )

And also, with apologies to Chad Anderson....I know, the bass drum lifter and muffling towel on the 16" inch bass drum is cheating. Don't worry, I'll "get it" eventually...


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Billy Martin Masterclass

From a recent masterclass in California...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review - Efa Etoroma Jr. & The Ruckus Fo'tet: 1-2-3-Fo'

Montreal Drummer Efa Etoroma Jr. kindly sent me a copy of his band's recent EPK and, as a promised, I gave it a listen to present you a sort of review today (sorry it took me so long...)

Efa and his crew (I believe) are all current/former students at McGill University's Jazz program of which I am also an alumni. So it's great to see the high level of students continue to come through that program and always nice to see young musicians taking the initiative with such a project.

Here's a recent bio of the band from their website:

"Originally formed in January 2009 the Ruckus Fo’tet is a Hip Hop ensemble with influences stemming from modern Jazz, Hip-hop, Rock,Funk, and Latin genres. The members of the group met while attending the McGill Schulich School of Music’s Jazz Program in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Performing chiefly original material, the group’s compositions draw influence from artists such as Herbie Hancock, J Dilla, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Although previously known as an instrumental ensemble, the Fo'tet exclusively collaborates with Montreal's esteemed MC Milla Thyme. In Montreal the Fo’tet has a reputation on the live music scene with recent performances at the 2009 Montreal International Jazz Festival, 2010 McGill Nuit Blanche and Open Air Pub events, as well as with performances at notable venues such as Upstairs Jazz Club, L’Absythne, Jupiter Room and Trois Minots.

Known for their soulful originals and deep in-the-pocket grooves, the Fo’tet takes pride in delivering performances that are both groovy and intellectual. The combination of groove, thoughtful arrangements, and Jazz-inflected improvisational elements make the ensemble’s music accessible to anyone from the jazz aficionado to hip-hop lover to rock enthusiast and to the casual music listener. The group’s distinct electro-acoustic sound is cumulated via the combination of acoustic drums, tenor saxophone, electric bass, and electric guitar."

The music presented on this EPK represents an enjoyable approach to a funky backbeat/hip-hop style of contemporary Jazz. Efa is a great young drummer and the influence of such contemporary drummers as Chris Dave and Questlove was obvious from the first few bars. He plays his backbeats and grooves with a lot of discipline and overall musicality and demonstrates a real maturity in an age where many young drummers seem to try and prove themselves with the number of notes they play rather than how they play them.

All the tracks I heard had a nice forward driving vibe without feeling overally aggressive or edgy and all with a certain casual/relaxed and in-the-pocket attitude towards establishing a nice solid groove (in a good way). This is the kind of music I could easily sit, chill out, relax and listen to during a night out.

I was particularly impressed with the recording quality of the tracks they sent. It was obvious that they took great care in the production quality of the recording process and it really shows.

My only potential criticism is that it would have been nice to hear these guys stretch out more with some more open blowing and take more chances within the context of the nice grooves and vibe they clearly establish so well. However, I'm pretty sure I would be pleasantly surprised and satisfied if I had the opportunity to hear this unit live (ie. come to Calgary, please!)

The Ruckus Fo'Tet - "1-2-3-Fo'"


Future Blues


The D

This Is

The Ruckus Fo’tet is comprised of:

Jarryd Torff - Tenor Saxophone

Evan Stewart - Electric Bass

Dave Ison- Electric Guitar

Efa Etoroma, Jr.- Drums and Cymbals

Max Miller- MC

Here is also a nice clip of the Ruckus Fo'tet from a recent performance in Montreal:

For more information about this band you can find them here: www.ruckusgroup.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kenny Washington - Blues for Harvey

A burning clip here today to finish the week off featuring a very young Kenny Washington on drums tearing it up with tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin on his composition "Blues For Harvey":

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kenny G - Riot Suppression

John Medeski & Rakalam Bob Moses

Another interesting drummer/keyboard duet today featuring Bob Moses and John Medeski:


I would also like to take this opportunity today to thank everyone who came out to our concert last night presented by the Cliff Bungalow Jazz Series in Calgary. Producer and local Jazz enthusiast Jan Mulder went above and beyond the call of duty to promote this show and the word is clearly getting out as we packed the room and set a new attendance record. We actually ran out of chairs and a few resilient people had to resort to standing against the back wall or pulling out a few couches to sit on.

Keyboardist Derek Stoll and Ralf Buschmeyer played their tails off and we all really appreciated the enthusiastic audience last night. Thanks again for your support and the continuing success of this initiative certainly goes to prove that Jazz music and Jazz audiences are alive and well in Calgary despite all the doom and gloom in the media after the demise of the Calgary Jazz Festival and C-Jazz.

Thanks again everybody and see you next time !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dave Holland

Today this one's for my bass player friends. Here's a nice documentary about Dave Holland, the man and his music:

DAVE HOLLAND a short documentary from Ulli Gruber on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Max Roach: The Duo Sessions

A few more clips today of one of my all-time favorites, Max Roach shown here in some various duet situations:

Max Roach !