Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ballard meets Guiliana

Here's a great little duet between drummers Jeff Ballard and Mark Guiliana:

Drummers unite!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Elvin Jones - Different Drummer

Today's post features the documentary "Elvin Jones - Different Drummer":

This documentary (which from what I understand may be out of print...) is an important resource for all Jazz drummers to check out. I still have my VHS copy that I purchased in high school and it was the perfect companion to my introduction to the drumming of Elvin Jones and his playing with John Coltrane. There are some great moments in this movie, especially the footage showing him playing with saxophonist Pat LaBarbera who is absolutely BLAZING and then breaking down his approach to drum soloing using the melodic structure to "Three Card Molly". There is also some nice footage of Elvin playing time with the brushes at the very end of while the credits roll. This one is certainly a must have.

The problem is that I now longer own a VHS player and I can't seem to find this on DVD!!! Fortunately someone posted this on youtube.com. Thank you!

Oh yes, I believe I saw also those exact same yellow drums on display at Steve Maxwell's in New York City last month.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eric Harland

Drummer Eric Harland is a unique force in the Jazz drumming world today playing, touring and recording with the likes of Charles Lloyd, the SF Jazz Collective, Chris Potter, Dave Holland and others. Here he is laying it down in some recent performances:

Check out the snare drum/tom tom above his bass drum. Sure, why not ?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Billy Martin

Drummer Billy Martin always has great things to say on the drums. Here he is from a recent clinic:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Few Words About Form & Drum Solos

As an improvising Jazz drummer I always appreciate the opportunity to play drum solos in different contexts and to express myself on the drums. However, one trend I've noticed is that other musicians aren't always aware of what I'm doing from a structural perspective during my solo. Undoubtedly this often translates into musicians not knowing when to come in after I'm finished soloing and a sloppy re-entry to the outhead! This is an issue that has been on my mind for awhile now and often frustrates me.

There are several issues at play here that I would like to discuss:

Now when I was younger I used to love listening to drummers Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson and Gene Krupa play these magnificent epic drum solos. I made an observation that at the end of their solos, often, they would play a recognizable rhythmic drum "cue" to bring back in the band or, in some cases, literally count (ie. shout!) to cue the bands entrance. This led me to believe that all drum solos were "open" or "free" (while perhaps still being in time) and that the solo ended at the discretion of the drummer with the band re-entering with some kind of musical or vocal cue given by the drummer. Listening to my favorite rock drummers like John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell and Neil Peart reinforced this belief.

Then I heard Max Roach.

When I started to check out Max Roach's drumming on such albums as "Study in Brown" or Sonny Rollin's "Saxophone Colossus" I was immediately drawn to his musical style of drumming which, to me, provided another approach to drum soloing. But what baffled me was how Max would play these brilliant solos and then the band would enter seamlessly afterwards ! Where was the count in? Where was the drum "cue" ? Perhaps the microphone was set up in a way that we couldn't hear Max count the band back in? Maybe they spliced the band's re-entry?

Eventually I figured out that there was an EXACT relationship between the number of bars of the melody, the harmonic form and the length of a given drummer's solo. Thus the idea of playing an improvised drum solo over a number of predetermined number of bars (ie. a chorus) and in tempo took shape in my mind.

"Man, that's hard" I thought.

Well that's because it is...

From then on I was determined to become proficient at soloing over a given tune and its particular melodic/harmonic structure (ie. soloing in time and in form). This in itself is really a lifetime worth of study given the billions of tunes and forms out there (add on to that different tempos and time signatures!)

Of course Max Roach isn't the only Jazz drummer to have approached soloing like this and I think every great Jazz drummer has the ability to do this as well. It's really an important skill to have and the recorded history of Jazz drumming proves this. This isn't a knock on playing free form drum solos liberated from structure or a steady pulse, but I think you've got to be able to do it both ways. All the greats could as far as I'm concerned...so should we.

Where my problem lies is in the often inability for other musician's to follow you while you are doing this.

Unfortunately I think there is still a real misconception and ignorance that exists out there with regards to what drummers are doing and ultimately capable of when they solo. Regrettably many musicians assume that just we just hit things until we get bored and then somehow bring the band back in. Well, as far I'm concerned there's a lot more to it than that ! I can't count the number of times that I've played a drum solo over the form of a tune and purposely tried to make my phrasing clear as possible only to see other members of the band disengaged from what I'm doing. Is my playing really that uninteresting? I know for a fact that this really bugged Max as well and he would defend his music with his fists need be...So maybe the drum solo isn't the best time to check your iPhone, grab a drink or talk to that cute blonde at the bar that you've been eyeing all night?

But I think it goes both ways: certainly the musicians you are playing with have to LISTEN to what you are doing and follow along just as anyone else would their solo (ideally!) but then again, as a drummer you have to be responsible and at least provide some structural references for your fellow musicians to latch onto and a clear statement to finish your solo (think of Tony Williams' with Miles Davis on "Walkin").

Sure, it's fun to play "stump the band" or "where's one?" but ultimately when it comes time to finish your solo, FINISH your solo and offer an overall clarity to what your musical intention is. A little visual communication never hurts either! When all else fails, quote the melody and if even then nobody hears it perhaps a little polite discussion afterwards is warranted. There's nothing wrong with practicing these things as a group or talking about it either.

One thing that I often notice among really good players is how engaged they are in the music, even when they aren't playing. The next time you go see Joe Lovano play, watch how locked in he is with his drummer. I remember seeing Roy Haynes play once and the whole time Kenny Garrett just stood next to his hihat, smiling when he wasn't himself soloing. When I was studying at McGill many years ago my good friend and trombonist Bruce Pepper actually practiced listening to drummers solo (Elvin Jones and Philly Joe Jones in particular) to learn how to "follow along" to a drum solo by intentionally studying their vocabulary and approach to phrasing. Now that's dedication!

So I guess what I'm asking my fellow musicians out there is to pay closer attention to what your drummer is doing while he or she solos. Engage yourself in the music and don't make your drummer do all the work for you. Drummers: don't assume that the band can read your mind either. I don't believe in "babysitting" a band when it comes to soloing however improvised drum soloing is a responsibility and a privilege not necessarily a right....so don't abuse the opportunity!

Personally I use the melody of the tune I'm playing to guide me through the form rather than counting numbers of bars...so perhaps if you are working with a drummer and you don't know what's going on:

a) sing the melody to yourself while the drummer is soloing and use that as a reference point

b) if the drummer is clearly not playing in time or over the form, listen and watch carefully for the drummer's cue (if there is one!)

c) if you are still lost, ask your drummer what he or she is doing and hopefully build on that

Ultimately music and drumming with other people and for other people is all about communication. I think if we respect that fundamental aspect of making music together it can go along way to making a drummer's solo a more meaningful experience for everyone - for the drummer, the rest of the band and the audience alike.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well it looks like spring is FINALLY here in Calgary. Hopefully I haven't spoken too soon and it's here to stay...

Alot of interesting things to tell you about today:

-I'll be presenting a couple of interesting workshops this week in the Calgary area:

First, later today (Monday) I'll be giving a workshop on how to develop ones rhythmic skills at the Mount Royal Conservatory for their Vocal Academy. A good sense of rhythm is an important skill for any musician to have (obviously even if you're not a drummer!) so I'm looking forward to working with this group of talented young musicians.

We are going to do some Ghanaian drumming, dancing and singing (playing some "Children's" games that Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah taught me years ago) and spend some time working on some syncopated clapping exercises (courtesy of Peter Erskine's fine book "Time Awareness") to work our inner drummer.

Rhythm Masterclass
Monday, April 25
Mount Royal Conservatory Vocal Academy
Calgary, Alberta

Also, this coming Friday (for all you early bird mountain types out there) I'll be presenting an early morning masterclass on basic rudimental snare drumming at the Banff Centre as part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival http://www.crmfestival.com/

Rudimental Snare Drum Workshop
Friday, April 29
The Banff Centre
Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival

C'mon by and say hello and bring your sticks, drum pad and coffee !

-My fellow Jazz drumming blogger Ted Warren recently interviewed bassist and composer Steve Swallow over at his blog Trap'd. It's a great interview and I was pleased to learn that all of Steve's music is available for free in lead sheet format at his website: www.wattxtrawatt.com

I promptly went to Swallow's website and downloaded all the music from his mid-90s album "Real Book" which, while I hadn't listened to that one in ages, still remains one of my favorites. Tilden Webb first played this album for me during one of his Jazz theory classes at McGill and Swallow's distinctive composition style has made an impression on me ever since. Oh yeah, Jack DeJohnette plays his butt off on this one too!

-Speaking of Jack DeJohnette...are you interested in taking a private lesson with the Master himself ? Well, me too but in the meantime check out the recent McCoy Tyner album "Guitars":

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this CD includes a DVD that shows footage of the band playing and recording in the studio. In fact, you can click on a specifically dedicated camera angle that focuses exclusively on Jack while he's recording and you can watch his every move. It's great ! I wish every Blue Note album came with a behind-the-scenes DVD like that. Could you imagine being able to watch Philly or AT like that ? A great resource indeed.

-I was sick last week with a bad sore throat and wicked head cold so unfortunately I missed some great live music at the Beatniq this weekend including drummer Morgan Childs and pianist Richard Whiteman and their band The Cookers from Toronto. But I did catch the live video feed at Small's Live and watched drummer Greg Hutchinson and his band with Ben Wolfe, Ron Blake, John Ellis and Aaron Goldberg. It was inspiring to say the least and I really hope that this group plans to record in the near future. That was really something special (especially when Joshua Redman sat in at the end of Friday's hit!)

-Don't forget to include a little Victor Lewis in your daily listening. Here he is with Stan Getz, Marc Johnson and Jim McNeely:

Dig those old Premiers and have a great week everybody!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hamid Drake

From Chicago's Hamid Drake, here's some very interesting and unique drumming:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jimmy Cobb Interview

Drummer Jimmy Cobb has always been one of my favorite musicians. Todays post features an interview with the esteemed Mr. Cobb:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Johnathan Blake & Kenny Barron - Well You Needn't

I mentioned in my Monday post that my friend Johnathan Blake is raising money to release his debut solo album. Here's a couple of clips of Blake in action with Kenny Barron:

I first met Johnathan in 2009 while he was doing some substitute teaching at the University of Toronto. Johnathan plays really great and I've especially been digging his playing with Tom Harrell's group, Donny McCaslin trio date "Recommended Tools" and on Omer Avital's recent quintet release "Live at Smalls". In particular the track "Blues for Tardy" is really worth a listen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ari Hoenig Meets Dan Weiss

Another epic meeting between two epic drummers, here's Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss playing together from a hit at New York's 55 Bar:

And here's another up close one of Hoenig playing brought to us by the nice people over at Evans Drumheads:

Ari has a new book out that has just been released. My copy is in the mail but I'm looking forward to checking it out:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


If you appreciate the value of old-school rudimental snare drumming, check these "cats" out:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kim Thompson at the 55 Bar

From a recent hit with Mike Stern at New York's 55 Bar, here's drummer Kim Thompson unleashing on John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C.":

This is post number 500 folks. Thanks for your continued support !

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, a few things to report today...

-I've caught a few notable and exciting gigs over the last couple of weekends starting with the Ian MacDougall 12tet at the Cellar in Vancouver two weekends ago. The band was in fine form having had the opportunity to play Ian's music for three nights in a row. Featuring an all star cast including the likes of Brad Turner, PJ Perry, Phil Dwyer, Campbell Ryga, Jodi Proznick, Oliver Gannon and Craig Scott, the entire band sounded great. I really appreciated Ian's distinctive orchestrations and colorful ensemble voicings. There was some serious music in there ! The drum & bass combination of Craig Scott and Jodi Proznick did a fantastic job of supplying a nice, wide solid groove for everyone to play over. The tenor battle between PJ Perry (subbing for Ross Taggart) and Phil Dwyer was intense ! I think a nearby mountain moved after that...

-Back from Vancouver, I caught Toronto saxophonist Jeff King's group Catalyst at the Beatniq in Calgary over the weekend. Featuring King on tenor with Andy Ballantyne on alto, Dave Restivo on piano, Rich Brown on electric bass and Joel Haynes on drums the group played a unique and dynamic program of contemporary, acoustic groove based music with lots of creative twists and turns. Rich Brown's bass playing was a lesson in groove and rhythm. Drummer Joel Haynes navigated his way exceptionally giving the music exactly what it needed. Joel is also a fellow McGill Jazz drumming alumni so it was good to catch up and talk shop with him afterwards.

-My friend drummer Johnathan Blake has recorded a great new album and needs your help to get it out to the public:

Johnathan Blake Indiegogo Campaign from Johnathan Blake on Vimeo.

Click here for more information about how you can help:


-A few albums I've been digging lately:

Larry Young "Unity" - Elvin Jones, Drums

Omer Avital Quintet "Live at Smalls" - Johnathan Blake, Drums

Duke Ellington & Ray Brown "This One's For Blanton"

Billy Hart "Sixty-Eight" - Billy Hart, Drums; Michael Pinto - Vibraphone

Alex Dean, Barry Elmes, Steve Wallace "D.E.W. East" - Barry Elmes, Drums

Stan Getz "At Storyville, Vol.1 & 2" - Tiny Kahn, Drums

Count Basie "Chairman of the Board" - Sonny Payne, Drums

Bill Charlap "Bill Charlap Plays Gershwin" - Kenny Washington, Drums

Joe Lovano & US FIVE "Bird Songs" - Otis Brown III & Francisco Mela, Drums

Shelly Manne "My Fair Lady" - Shelly Manne, Drums

-Last January I toured Western Canada with a great band performing the music from the album "Art Pepper+11". CBC Radio was kind and thoughtful enough to record our performance at the University of Saskatchewan. Here it is: http://www.cbc.ca/radio2/cod/concerts/20110125peppr

-I never get tired of watching this! Gotta love those emerald green drums...

-Like the photo at the top of todays post? I took that with my iPhone during my all too brief trip to Vancouver at the corner of Davie and Bute. A fine tribute to Vancouver's Jazz drumming community, this drummer sort of has a striking resemblance to my fellow jazz drumming blogger Jesse Cahill don't you think?

Latest Zildjian/Gretsch Collaboration *Spoiler Alert*

Some exciting industry news here exclusively from Four on The Floor.

The Zildjian cymbal and Gretsch drum companies have worked together to present their recent collaboration, a special drum set/cymbal combination that will only be available in Northern Canada for a limited time only:

Rumor has it that this kit was actually designed for John Bonham in preparation for a Led Zeppelin tour of Alaska, the Yukon, North West Territories, Baffin Island and Labrador that was cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ed Blackwell...

Hosted by Branford Marsalis, here's a brilliant documentary on the life of drummer Ed Blackwell produced by NPR. Special thanks to Chad Anderson who sent these my way.

A great quote from Blackwell:

"Neglect your art for one day and it will neglect you for two!"

And from his friend Billy Higgins speaking about Ed:

"He wasn't a drummer by choice, he was a drummer by design."


Saturday, April 16, 2011

M'Boom Meets The World Saxophone Quartet

A meeting of musical minds of epic proportions, here's the M'Boom percussion ensemble with the World Saxophone Quartet:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Steve Houghton on Cymbals

Drummer and educator Steve Houghton's books and educational resources were very important tools for me when I was a young person, first trying to figure out the drum set. His book "Studio and Big Band Drumming" in particular was a very useful book in learning how to interpret a big band chart.

Steve is now doing great things at the percussion department at Indiana University. Here's a few of Steve doing his thing:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Backstage with Cindy Blackman

I posted some footage of this band awhile ago but here's another one of the same band but from a different angle:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Billy Martin

Get comfortable. Here's an extensive interview with drummer and visionary Billy Martin, a very eloquent and articulate musician who always has great things to say:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Acoustic Brecker Brothers

Not a terribly long clip here today but a nice reminder of a concert I saw a number of years ago in Montreal:

Michael Brecker was the special Jazz festival feature artist during the 2001 Montreal Jazz Festival. I caught most of his shows that week, each night featuring a different group. Every night was great.

The group that knocked me out and surprised me the most was billed as the "Acoustic Brecker Brothers" featuring Michael Brecker with his brother Randy on trumpet and a killing rhythm section with David Kikoski on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Carl Allen on drums. It was very cool to hear all the classic Brecker Brother's hit tunes played with a different "acoustic" angle.

There are a few bootlegs of this great group floating around the web but as far as I know this particular group didn't record together.

Fortunately we can still dig this:


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Milt Jackson & Clark Terry - Minor Blues

Just when I start to get overconfident with my vibraphone playing, all I have to do is check out THIS guy and I'm quickly brought back to earth and sent to the woodshed...

And of course, Clark Terry just always sounds incredible in my books : )

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Billy Hart & Dave Liebman

From New York's Birdland, here's some footage (not mine) of two of my favorite musicians, saxophonist Dave Liebman and drummer Billy Hart:

These two musicians always play with an intensity, energy and driven purpose that, to me, defines the whole reason why we even try to play this music in the first place.

I recently picked up a copy of Liebman's book "Self Portrait of a Jazz Artist: Musical Thoughts and Realities" and have found it to be a thoughtful and inspiring collection of ideas based on Dave Liebman's real life experience of being a Jazz musician (through his various perspectives and reflections on different points of his career) and of the many things that go into being a Jazz artist in today's environment (touring, recording, gigging, practicing, etc.) Any young musician considering a career in this music should definitely check this one out (and of course anybody who has been doing this awhile as well!)

Also, during my CD buying binge in New York two weeks ago at J&R music I picked up a copy of Billy Hart's latest release on Steeplechase "Sixty-Eight".

This is an album to commemorate Hart's 68 years on the planet (and tearing up a drumming storm I might add!) and the music features a band of much younger musicians in a creative outing featuring tunes by Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Sam Rivers (among others). Also nice to hear my former collaborator Jason Palmer on trumpet sounding great as always (I had the pleasure of working with Jason at the Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency in Washington D.C. in 2003).

Dave Liebman and Billy Hart are truly two Jazz warriors that I admire deeply and continue to make a difference as both performing artists and teachers in the world today. Two good examples to follow, I think.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rodney Green on Brushes

More brushes today. A brief one of drummer Rodney Green playing some mean brushes:

I recently heard Rodney at Smoke a few weeks ago with organist Mike LeDonne and Peter Bernstein on guitar. Green sounded great, swung hard and gave the music exactly what it needed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brush Cajon

An interesting approach to playing both the brushes and cajon today (!) brought to us by drummer Ulysses Owens:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Backbeat Blade

I enjoyed this one today immensely. A rare glimpse and up-close view of drummer Brian Blade laying down a serious backbeat (incidentally backing up his father) in the studio (with a large and attentive studio audience no doubt!):

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Thelonious Quartet

I've got a really fun couple of nights of music coming up this week with guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer's band. Along with Ralf on guitar, Derek Stoll on keyboards, Jim Brenan on tenor saxophone and myself on drums, we'll be playing two evenings of Ralf's creative and clever arrangements of the music of Thelonious Monk, one of Jazz musics greatest pianists and composers. I have always been a real fan of Monk's music so I'm looking forward to this project with these fine musicians.

Lately I've been having fun revisiting my favorite Thelonious Monk albums preparing for these dates and checking out the unique approach of the great Monk drummers including Frankie Dunlop, Ben Riley, Art Taylor, Roy Haynes and Art Blakey. Monk's music seems to bring out many great things in different drummers.

Incidentally, drummer/blogger Todd Bishop has posted a good interview with drummer Frankie Dunlop here: www.shipdrummer.blogspot.com/2011/04/frankie-dunlop-on-monk
and Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle also recently offered his thoughts on Monk: www.ronanguil.blogspot.com/2011/03/probably-well-behind-everybody-else-ive.html

Ralf Buschmeyer & The Thelonious Quartet

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

Thursday, April 7th

Friday, April 8th



Ralf Buschmeyer - Guitar
Jim Brenan - Tenor Saxophone
Derek Stoll - B3 Organ
Jon McCaslin - Drums

Monday, April 4, 2011

Max Roach Quartet 1990

A nice way to start off the week here with some footage and full-length concert of the great Max Roach and his band from a festival in 1990:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

DeJohnette Supreme

Jack DeJohnette recently posted this clip via his Facebook page of his solo performance from the 2009 PASIC conference in Indianapolis. I was there and it was incredible...

I'd also like to quote from a recent Downbeat magazine article in which Jack was named Drummer of The Year in their annual critics poll. With regards to his "melodic" approach to playing the drums:

"Another important aspect to DeJohnette's talent is how his piano playing and writing impact his drumming and music. Referring to both, he says,"They help me think more orchestrally. Add to that, I've been referred to as being one of the most melodic drummers around. That might have to do with tuning the drums in a melodic way so that every time I play one of the components on my kit, there's always melody happening. I'm always thinking in terms of composition. Playing the piano and writing helps me do that, and then I have a better overall sense of what's going on in the music. It also helps me to know how best to complement a composition and the soloist with their improvisation. And the instrumentalists know I can hear everything they're playing and where they're coming from. They have that trust that I will be there supporting them."

Quite revealing!

Furthermore, here's apparently what Jack practices before hitting the road (borrowed from another recent series of posts of his over at the Facebook):

"Here are some CDs I play with to get me in shape for a tour:

- Ready for Freddie/Freddie Hubbard
- Inception/McCoy Tyner
- Live at the Village Vanguard and Giant Steps/John Coltrane
- Four and More/Miles Davis"

"I'd like to add The Real McCoy/Mcoy Tyner and for playing real fast tempos I highly recommend Study in Brown/Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet. Max Roach plays the fastest tempos I've ever heard. This is because Max had to play those tempos with Charlie Parker and Dizzy. It's easy to play real fast but you have to be very relaxed to do it!

"Here is some more music I like to play along with and listen to.

- In and Out/Joe Henderson
- Smokin/Miles Davis Quintet
- The Young Philadelphians/Benny Golson
- Sonny Rollins at The Village Vangaurd with Bob Cranshaw and Don Cherry. It's incredible!"

So there you go !

Friday, April 1, 2011

New York

And....we're back.

Sorry for the brief radio silence here lately. I just returned home after spending ten action packed days in the Jazz capital of the world, New York City. I was extremely busy during my trip as I was interviewing a variety of drummers as part of my field research towards my ongoing DMA dissertation that I am writing through the University of Toronto. It's been seven years since my last time in the Big Apple so I also took advantage of my time there to check out as much live music as I possibly could (there's no better place to do this in my opinion!)

A few of my personal favorites included:

-Vancouver saxophonist, club owner, producer and all-around nice guy Cory Weeds featured with the crack rhythm section of David Hazeltine on piano, John Webber on bass and Joe Strasser on drums followed by the late night set featuring the fearless Kreston Osgood on drums (from Denmark) joined by Johannes Weidenmuller (bass) and Sam Yahel (piano) all at Smalls.

-I really dug pianist Bill Charlap's trio so much with Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola that I ended up going to see them two nights in a row. And I'm glad I did. Kenny's impeccable sense of dynamics, light touch on the ride cymbal and fine attention to articulation was a master class in itself in musical drumming.

The late night set on the second evening I attended featured drummer Greg Hutchinson (a former students of Washington's) with a great guitarist (whose name escapes me...) and Aaron Goldberg on piano.

-I caught another one of my favorite drummers, Billy Drummond with his group "Freedom of Ideas" featuring trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on another return trip to Smalls.

-After spending an afternoon checking out a rehearsal with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and an informative hang with drummer Ali Jackson Jr. I caught their hard swinging, entertaining and informative "Jazz for Young People" concert featuring classic big band music from the swing era.

-On Sunday evening I met up with my old friend Barb Hamilton and we checked out trumpeter Dave Douglas and his Brass Ecstasy band that featured drummer Rudy Royston at the Village Vanguard. Dave is a prolific composer and improviser. I really dig this recent project of his and the whole evening exuded a real sense of joy.

-I returned the following evening to hear the renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra featuring drummer John Riley in the drivers seat. This was another lesson in big band drumming and I really appreciated his dynamic playing on the Jim McNeely composition "Mel" (incidentally which is composed around a classic Mel Lewis drum phrase). Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry also shined on a ballad feature and I was all smiles as the band swung through what is likely my all-time favorite big band arrangement, Thad Jones' "Three in One".

-I headed to the Blue Note on Tuesday evening and heard drummer Lewis Nash & bassist Francois Moutin give an impeccable demonstration how a great drummer and bassist can work together while backing up French composer/pianist Michel LeGrand.

Here's a picture of me, Lewis Nash and a bowl of fruit backstage in his dressing room at the Blue Note:

-My New York adventure finished on a high note (sorry about the pun) digging the hard swinging and "greasy" grooves of Mike LeDonne (B3 organ), Peter Bernstein (guitar) and Rodney Green (drums) at Smoke. The highlight of the evening came in the form of a special surprise guest as Jazz legend and tenor saxophonist George Coleman sat in with the band for the last set.

-I also paid a visit to Steve Maxwell's Drum Shop in midtown Manhattan and admired the impressive plethora of vintage drums on display. If you like old drums, this is the place to be! He also had some very cool old sets that belonged to the likes of Elvin Jones and Kenny Clarke. Those are like Holy Relics in my opinion!!! The newer Craviotto drums they had on display are really pieces of drumming art as well.

-Speaking of art, it wasn't all Jazz all the time during my stay. I took some time on Sunday afternoon to make the trek to the Museum of Modern Art and check out some interesting abstract works of art. I'm always interested in checking out the works of Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. Picasso's "Three Musicians" was impressive to see in person:

-I did something during this trip that I haven't done in a long time. I walked into J&R Music and bought a stack of CDs !!!
Nowadays I usually order my music online or download it off of iTunes. It was a nice feeling to step into a good music store again, browse for a couple of hours and come out with a bag full of great albums to listen to. I miss those days...

Alright. I'm back home and back to work. Regular posts forthcoming.