Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winard Harper on Melody

An excellent demonstration here today of how a good Jazz drummer uses the idea of Melody while playing the drums:

And thanks again to Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, for putting this one together.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Farnsworth on Brushes

I never get tired of watching Joe Farnsworth's slick moves with the brushes:

Also, notice the absence of any toms or extra cymbals in his setup. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Kenny Clarke today on some recording dates done in the early 50s for the Savoy record label when Klook was their house drummer and I was reminded of why it's important to be able to play just a basic collection of drums to get the job done. Apparently, Clarke was so busy doing recording sessions at the time that he would often play with just a minimalist setup to facilitate transporting his drums between recording sessions, running across town. I'm always impressed when I hear him swing so mightily on those recordings and play so creatively, occasionally soloing just on a snare drum and using such a limited setup. Hanks Jones' "The Trio" is a good one (thanks to Jesse Cahill who set me up with that one in 1996!) and "Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazzmen" is another personal favorite.

I often enjoy the challenge of using a small, one-cymbal setup with no toms when I'm playing club dates (btw - that seems to be a term that nobody in Calgary nor Toronto ever seems to understand. I guess it's a Montreal thing?) Although recently there have been a few local gigs I've played like this to give myself the challenge of getting more out of less. I first heard drummer Leon Parker play like this as well although with no hihat either (!) accompanying the Jacky Terrasson trio in Saskatoon around 1995. His ability to get so many sounds out of so few drums and cymbals was really quite shocking.

By the way, what ever happened to Leon Parker? At another Saskatchewan Jazz Festival date around 1999 I heard Leon play in Saskatoon as a duet with Charlie Hunter and that still resonates as some of the heaviest music I've heard. The groove was very deep. Incidentally Leon was playing a rather large drumset that evening but still no hihat !

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle/Calgary Jazz "Festival" Shows - Part 4

Yesterday I checked out the last of several shows as part of what I have been billing this week as the 2011 "unofficial" Calgary Jazz Festival and took in local pianist Lorna MacLachlan's band at the Ironwood Stage & Grill located in Inglewood on Sunday evening. Lorna is an accomplished pianist and dedicated composer who also spends her time inspiring young minds at Western Canada High School as a passionate music educator.

The band consisted of Lorna on piano and vocals joined by local musicians Keith Smith on guitar, Rich Harding on alto and soprano saxophones, Stefano Valdo on bass and Robin Tufts on drums. The group has been playing a lot lately and I sure appreciated the overall cohesiveness that the group demonstrated on Lorna's original compositions, in particular the tricky lines and forms that dealt with a wealth of odd meter phrases. Most of the music played was from Lorna's recent release "Time 4 Change" as well as some of her previous hit tunes including the through composed "Telegraphy". From personal experience, I can tell you that Lorna writes great music that is very challenging but very melodic with many twists and turns. Everyone did a great job of presenting it in a very musical way and it was great to hear her music presented at such a high level. Overall a great way to finish what has been several days of great Jazz music. Perhaps next year we'll be able to organize these many concerts, print off some posters, sell some tickets and call this a proper Jazz festival !

- Looking for some good Jazz advice? Well these two guys have a TON of great things to think about and learn from here:
www.jazzadvice.com There is lots of valuable things to learn from those two. I plan on spending some time reading their columns and hopefully learning a thing or two myself...

- Here's a drummer that, after a recent conversation with Kenny Washington, I intend on checking out more of in the days to come:

If you can recommend some albums that feature Charlie Persip and should be aware of, please let me know.

- George Colligan has an excellent interview he recently did with drummer Ralph Peterson over at his blog Jazztruth: http://jazztruth.blogspot.com/2011/06/ralph-peterson-interview.html

- Roy Haynes is and always will be my hero. Check him out here with the "Freedom" Band along with Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett and Christian McBride:

The level of respect these musicians have for Haynes is self evident. Watch how they all line up in awe behind the drums during Roy's drum feature.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Calgary Jazz "Festival" Shows - Part 3

Yesterday's Calgary Jazz experience took me to the Ironwood Stage & Grill in Inglewood to catch the Prime Time Big Band with special guest, alto saxophonist P.J. Perry. Under the direction of Dave Jones this band has been playing a regular Saturday afternoon concert series at the Ironwood for eight seasons now. The band includes a number of musicians who are no strangers to Calgary's Jazz community including the likes of saxophonists Pat Belliveau, Rich Harding, trombonist Brian Walley, guitarist Keith Smith, drummer John DeWaal, pianist (and sometimes tubist!) Derek Stoll and trumpeter Al "Oop" Muirhead.

The band opened with Don Menza's classic chart "Groovin' Hard" originally written for the Buddy RIch big band and really set the pace for the afternoon ahead by featuring a dynamite saxophone soli that even had P.J. Perry frantically running out from backstage to cheer on and applaud the band.

P.J. was in fine form throughout and proved once again why he is truly one of Canada's greatest and a real living Canadian Jazz legend. In particular his solos on Rick Wilkin's arrangements of "They Way You Look Tonight" and "Round Midnight" were outstanding. Perry's soloing and mastery of the bebop language is impressive to say the least and his lines and phrasing are always full of surprises and contain a melodic and rhythmic intensity that SWINGS with every note. P.J. also shined with a lyrical interpretation on the ballad "Loverman" and played the Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington feature "Caravan" with such authority and conviction that you'd swear he wrote it himself ! The influence of such alto players such as Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt and Art Pepper is quite evident in his refined style and I have a great deal of respect for his mastery and devotion to playing on such a high creative (and swinging!) level.

I was disappointed that I missed P.J. a month ago while he was touring with Kevin Dean, Mark Eisenman, Neil Swainson and Andre White so I'm glad that I had the opportunity to hear him play with the big band. From what I understand P.J. is soon to leave on an 18 month tour with the show "Come Fly Away" so be sure to catch this master while you can!

Overall, I felt that everyone in that band rose to the occasion on Saturday afternoon and everyone sounded great. Assembling and presenting a big band on even a semi-regular basis is no easy feat so Dave Jones and his crew are to be congratulated for such dedication and perseverance to keeping the big band flame alive in Calgary.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Calgary Jazz "Festival" Shows - Part 2

Still lots of great Jazz music to be heard in Calgary this week. Last night took me back to the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club to hear Polish drummer Jacek Kochan's group featuring New York/Canadian ex-pat Seamus Blake on tenor saxophone, Dave Restivo on piano and Calgary turned Parisian Chris Jennings at the bass.

The program mostly consisted of original compositions provided by Kochan with exceptional playing from everybody on the bandstand. In particular, I liked Kochan's very loose and organic straight 8th feel via an ever rhythmically changing style of drumming. Restivo and Jennings were great as always and a pleasant reminder as to why these two are constantly in demand as sideman with many the world's greats. Seamus Blake is a powerhouse tenor player and the evenings highlights, for me, were easily his solo on Herbie Hancock's "One Finger Snap" and an extended solo saxophone intro that developed into a beautiful ballad rendition of "Peace" by Horace Silver.

This band is currently touring across Canada hitting the current Jazz festival circuit. As you can see below, pianist Dave Restivo is clearly enjoying his time out West:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Calgary Jazz "Festival" Shows - Part 1

Just a few words with regards to a couple of great shows I caught yesterday in Calgary. There is no official Calgary Jazz Festival this year, but I am pretending : )

The Alex Goodman Quintet

I heard this band of fine young musicians on an outdoor free stage set up on the Stephen Avenue Walk downtown. The City of Calgary sponsors free Jazz shows during the noon hour every Thursday.

I've known guitarist Alex Goodman and played with him since my days in Toronto and he is definitely one of the countries promising and up-and-coming young Jazz artists to watch. He is an exceptional technician, a great composer and is quite active in terms of finding opportunities to record, play and tour. He's currently touring the country with his quintet just following another extensive national tour with a group co-led by himself and Calgary turned Torontonian alto saxophonist Brent Mah.

The band consisted of Alex Goodman on guitar, Nick Morgan on alto, Maxwell Roach on drums, Dan Fortin on bass and D'arcy Myronuk on piano. I really appreciated the overall band cohesiveness (no music stands or charts!) and they still played with a sense of purpose and genuine musicality despite performing on a busy street corner in downtown Calgary over lunchtime to a transient crowd. Goodman's compositions are richly melodic and the overall vibe reminded me of the ever so popular Kurt Rosenwinkel with some hints of Brian Blade's Fellowship project. Overall very impressive to hear and see and these musicians certainly have a bright future ahead of them playing the way they do. I'm sure they will turn more than a few heads by the time they reach the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Alex was also nice enough to slide me a copy of his latest album with this group entitled "Bridges". I haven't had an opportunity to listen to this yet, but I look forward to checking it out and was impressed with the apparent number of interpretations of classical music that appears on this CD.

The Francois Bourassa Quartet

Speaking of classically inspired contemporary Jazz music, I popped over to the Beatniq on Thursday evening and heard the first set of Quebec pianist Francois Bourrassa and his quartet with Andre Leroux on tenor saxophone, Guy Boisvert on bass and Phillipe Melanson on drums. The music consisted of a huge exploration of Bourassa's original compositions that featured a large influence of 20th Century classical music and techniques. The first piece, in a particular, a harmonically winding, broken swing number, reminded me a lot of the same angularity that Herbie Nichols exhibited in many of his compositions as well. Andre Leroux exhibited a technical prowess on the saxophone that reminded me of why Leroux is easily one the country's preeminent saxophonists and he should be more well-known outside of Quebec's borders. I was intrigued by the drumming of Phillipe Melanson as he exhibited a physicality and primal approach to the drums that brought Ari Hoenig to mind. His creative approach to breaking up the time and exploring different textures on the drums also reminded me of the looseness and ingenuity of other accomplished Quebec drummers such as Michel Lambert and Pierre Tanguay.

I first heard Francois Bourassa with his trio at the Regina Jazz Society in the University of Regina faculty club around 1993-94. Guy Boisvert was also playing bass at the time and was joined by his brother Yves Boisvert on the drums. This was really the first piano trio I ever heard in person and this particular gig left a deep impression on me. Boisvert's drumming was very reminiscent of Jack DeJohnette and I remember a distinct influence of the Keith Jarrett trio with regards to there approach to playing standards. Being exposed to live music like this at a young age is really important and, speaking from experience, often provides an influence and experience that resonates for years to come.

There is plenty more great Jazz music to check out this week in Calgary. Tonight I'm looking forward to hearing Seamus Blake with Chris Jennings, Dave Restivo and Polish drummer Jacek Kochan.

Stick Control Revisited

Today I'd like to share an exercise/concept with you that Montreal drummer Michel Lambert showed me many years ago.

The book Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone is a must have text for any aspiring drummer. However, despite the multitude of important sticking variations to be found in its pages, there is not much for dynamic variations. And as I've stated before, it's really important for drummers to think dynamically when playing the drums.

Michel's basic concept for his exercise was to add different accent patterns over a given line of Stick Control to come up with interesting variations. This is, as I found out years later, was also the basis for many of the exercises found in Stone's follow up book Accents & Rebounds and Joe Morello's important book, Master Studies as well.

However, using the first page of Stick Control you can figure out probably a million variations and possibilities (and not have to go out and buy yet another book haha)

So basically the exercise is the following:

1) Take any line of Stick Control and play it on the snare drum.

2) Once you have that sticking pattern down come up with a simple, one or two bar accent pattern and play that sticking pattern in conjunction with those accents. Really exaggerate the accents and make them clear.

For example:



Here's that same sticking pattern with some different accent variations:

You'll find that the more creative you get with whatever accents you come up with that simple patterns like RRLL or RLRR LRLL won't even feel like the familiar patterns you are used to playing after a while. It's a great way to get your hands playing familiar patterns in unfamiliar ways.

You could probably write out all the different accent variations within a given sticking pattern (and hey why not write another book?) but don't be afraid to come up with your own patterns in the moment and mess around with it. Not everything we play has to be written down, right? Nothing wrong with giving your brain a bit of a drum pattern workout. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Furthermore, play the accents on the drums with the right hand on the floor tom and the left hand on the high tom with all the unaccented notes staying on the snare drum. This is a great way to learn new and interesting ways to get around the drums.

Add some kind of a stock foot pattern to play between the hihat and bass drum and you're in business.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


A real gem here. Here's the MAN himself, rudimental snare drum legend Frank Arsenault performing the snare drumming standard "The Downfall of Paris":

And here it is so you can play along:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Buddy Rich Drum Clinic

Not the greatest footage but still some wise words from Buddy Rich (with a little bit of wit thrown in for good measure!):

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Calgary "Sort of Temporary" Jazz Festival Update

Well, unfortunately due to last year's debacle and last-minute cancellation of the Calgary Jazz Festival we still don't have a local Jazz festival a year later. However, there is a group of concerned local Jazz citizens who are taking a cautious approach to reorganizing things so hopefully we will have a viable festival up and running in Calgary in a year or so. Here's a recent article to that effect: www.ffwdweekly.com/article/music/music-previews/jazz-celebration-takes-steps-to-fill-jazz-festivals-void-7648/

Fortunately there are still a number of great concerts going on this week so local Calgary Jazz fans can get their fix and still enjoy great music all week. Officially Calgary is still Jazz festival-less but a number of people have stepped up to the plate to presenting a number of great Jazz concerts this week.

-The Jazz Is Society is presenting the Marc Atkinson Trio on Friday night and trumpeter Gary Guthman on Saturday with a group of fine local Calgary artists (check out my friend John DeWaal on drums). Both shows run at Central United Church. For more info click here: www.jazzis.org

-The Beatniq is also presenting four nights that feature groups that are currently touring the Canadian Jazz festival circuit this month. Wednesday features drummer Kevin Brow and his band. Quebec pianist Francois Bourassa is featured with his quartert (including powerhouse tenor saxphonist Andre Leroux) on Thursday evening. On Friday Polish drummer Jacek Kohan brings an all-star group featuring Dave Restivo, Chris Jennings and Seamus Blake (don't miss this one!) and then Calgary turned New Yorker alto saxophonist Curtis MacDonald brings his touring crew to finish things off on Saturday night. All in all there is lots of great music to be heard this week so make sure to get out and support these live acts this week. For more info click here: www.beatniq.com

-Canadian alto saxophonist and Jazz legend PJ Perry is also appearing with the Prime Time Big Band under the direction of Dave Jones this Saturday afternoon at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (2pm) and pianist/composer Lorna MacLachlan appears with her own group on the same stage on Sunday evening to promote her latest CD "Time 4 Change" (8pm).

So if you are a Jazz fan in Calgary there is more than enough good music to check out this week!

"Swingin' in Carstairs, Alberta with Terra Hazelton"

I had the pleasure of hearing Toronto vocalist Terra Hazelton and guitarist Nathan Hiltz twice in the past week. First at Calgary's Loose Moose Theatre and last night in Carstairs, Alberta at the Cafe Radio, a fine establishment recently opened by the Valleau brothers Jason and Sheldon of PolyJesters fame. Terra and Nathan are currently touring across Alberta and British Columbia. Make sure to catch their touring act whenever you can. This is some of the best live music I've heard in awhile. For their tour schedule click here: www.terrahazelton.com

Terra is an incredible vocalist and really sings great, evoking very soulful, bluesy and authentic renditions of classic standards and old school swing and blues numbers. She is the real deal and it's always refreshing to hear a singer with a great voice and such an affinity for the material she is singing. Terra used to perform extensively with Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards and brings a wealth of knowledge and real depth to the material she performs. Her version of Duke Ellington's "In My Solitude" really made my day. She's also a fine actor and you can see her work in the soon-to-be classic film Fubar II. Just give'er!!!

Guitarist Nathan Hiltz is a force and truly one of Canada's top young Jazz guitarists. His technical and stylistic mastery of his instrument is impressive and you can tell that he's really done his homework. It's always a pleasure to hear him play. He has a deep knowledge of the Jazz tradition, knows a ton of tunes and swings his ass off. Nathan's also a visionary and has been experimenting with his pedals and original compositions with the Griffiths-Hiltz Trio with his cohorts Johnny Griffiths and Sly Juhas. This band came through Calgary earlier this year and was definitely a highlight for me.

Terra and Nathan were nice enough to invite me on stage to sit in on a few numbers with my snare drum and brushes joining Jason Valleau on bass and his brother Sheldon on ukulele. Fun times indeed. All in all there is great Jazz music happening in these parts these days. Check it out!

Hutch with Warren Wolf

Two of my favorite musicians featured today - Greg Hutchinson on drums with Baltimore's Warren Wolf on vibraphone (who also happens to be a fine drummer in his own right! Thanks to Greg Duncan who pointed that out to me):

I first became aware of Warren's fine vibraphone playing through his work with Christian McBride's current working band "Inside Straight". Check out Christian's album "Kind of Brown" for a display of his great playing (and some great drumming from Carl Allen as well). They are doing the festival circuit this summer across Canada but unfortunately I'm going to miss them seeing as Calgary still doesn't have a Jazz festival that features international touring groups...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bill Stewart Plays Cymbals

Bill Stewart never ceases to impress! Here he is with Zildjian R&D chief Paul Francis demonstrating some really nice cymbals courtesy of the folks at the Memphis Drum Shop and mycymbal.com:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fritz Hauser Plays Everything

Percussionist Fritz Hauser is a force in the contemporary percussion world. His solo multi-percussion compositions and performances are impressive and very creative:

I've been thinking of putting together a solo drumset/percussion show and recording myself for some time now. I'm familiar with many recordings that Jazz drummers have done in this context but only vaguely aware of the works that exist in the contemporary and classical percussion world. I have a feeling there is lots to draw from there and look forward to checking that angle of things out some more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dennis Mackrel

I came across this great footage of drummer Dennis Mackrel and had to share it with you all:

Dennis is an amazing drummer and somebody that I think all aspiring Jazz drummers should be aware of. He's played in a wide variety of musical situations and really hits the gig no matter with who or what music he's playing. I've heard him back up the Count Basie Orchestra and the likes of Tony Bennett to more modern and open contexts with saxophonist Kirk MacDonald and bassist Neil Swainson. A fine example to follow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Victor Lewis with Stan Getz - Voyage

More burning playing here today from a favorite of mine these days, drummer Victor Lewis, playing here with Stan Getz on Kenny Barron's signature tune "Voyage":

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Late Night with Joe Morello

Drummers Anton Fig, Sheila E., Roy Haynes and Neil Peart all got nice features on the Late Show with David Letterman last week but Joe Morello also got his due a few years ago on Conan O'Brien's late night show. Here is the master in action on his signature feature "Take Five":

Modern Drummer magazine also featured a nice cover story on Joe in their recent issue. Check it out !

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jazz for Lunch...

The ProArts Society of Calgary presents:

The Jon McCaslin Trio


Jon McCaslin - Drums

Jim Brenan - Tenor Saxophone

Rubim DeToledo - Bass

Wednesday, June 15th


Appearing at:

The Cathedral Church of The Redeemer
Corner of 7th Avenue & 1st Street SE
Calgary, AB



Don't miss this noon-hour show on Wednesday featuring my trio with Jim Brenan and Rubim DeToledo. We are going to play one fun set of music by the likes of Charles Mingus, Sam Rivers, Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, an original by Rubim and a few choice standards thrown in as well. Come on by and bring your lunch !

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

During my travels over the course of the past few months many artists have been generous enough to give me copies of their latest releases. Here's a few of these fine recordings that have been making the rounds over here at Four on the Floor lately:

-Nancy Walker - "New Hieroglyphics"

Pianist Nancy Walker and her partner bassist Kieran Overs are good friends of mine from my Toronto days. They are joined here by drummer Ethan Ardelli and guitarist Ted Quinlan on a program of Nancy''s original compositions. Lots of nice variety here and some really exceptional writing. Nancy's band won the Montreal Jazz Festival prize back in 2003 when my own band was nominated as well. It was an honour to be in such fine company! Nancy's tunes are really well crafted and exhibit a brilliant and very personal harmonic and melodic approach that is very enjoyable to listen to.

-Jerry Granelli with Danny Oore and Simon Fisk - "Let Go"

Drummer Jerry Granelli recently performed in Calgary with bassist/cellist Simon Fisk and Mark DeJong on saxophone and bass clarinet. Unfortunately I missed their show as I was playing myself that evening with my own trio. From all accounts I missed a great evening of creative music making. I believe Granelli is also teaching at the Banff Centre and participating in the Jazz & Creative Music Workshop that's currently running and headed by Dave Douglas.

Jerry's publicist sent me a copy of his latest album and I was really impressed with the overall tone and mood created on this trio recording date. Granelli is a master of space and texture on the drums, reacting perfectly to the improvised elements around him. I like to think of Jerry as being like our own Canadian/East Coast version of Paul Motian. This trio plays with a really nice sympatico and group dynamic. It's always great to music played by musicians who are clearly listening to each other.

-Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra - "Deep Shadows"

-Kirk MacDonald Quartet - "Songbook Vol. 2"

A couple of very great and very different albums from tenor saxophonist Kirk MacDonald. "Songbook, Vol. 2" features Kirk and his music in a small group format while "Deep Shadows" features his compositions as arranged for Jazz orchestra by the likes of Terry Promane and my old McGill composition professor Joe Sullivan. Both are great albums and showcase Kirk's exceptional writing and playing. Kirk's tunes really shine within these fine arrangements. His tune "Starlight", based on the changes to "Stella by Starlight", is a personal favorite and brought back memories of hearing him play this tune with drummer Andre White and bassist Ron Seguin in Montreal during the mid 90's. Drummer Barry Romberg also features prominently on both these recordings and plays very creatively while at the same time propelling the music forward and giving the music exactly what it needs. Kirk plays with a huge sound and a very strong melodic/rhythmic clarity that is not only a joy to listen to but a blast to play with as well !

-Curtis Andrews and Patrick Boyle - "Rock Music"

--insert photo here--

No photo of the cover art for this one yet (!) but Patrick slid me a copy of this one last month while we were working together in Saskatchewan. I've been listening to this one a lot lately and love it. Hearing fine musicians play in duet situations is a personal favorite of mine (see my previous post about my favorite duet records). Patrick is heavily influenced by Don Cherry and this recording certainly brings to mind the great Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell collaborations such as "El Corazon" and "Mu (The Complete Session)". Andrews brings the entire the world of drumming and percussion under his bearing and exhibits this very tastefully and musically. I really dig the variety that these two fine musicians are able to achieve while playing in this duet context. Each track on the album reflects a different place or town found in Newfoundland. I didn't believe that there is really a place called Dildo, Newfoundland....but there is and it's a great tune too!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jeff Ballard with Los Guachos

Composer Guillermo Klein's contemporary Jazz orchestra "Los Guachos" recently played at the Village Vanguard featuring drummer Jeff Ballard. Unfortunately I wasn't there to take that in, but here's the band in action from an earlier date featuring Ballard on the composition "Child's Play":

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Louis Hayes Still Swingin'

There's not many drummers from this generation left so if you ever have the opportunity to hear one of the "old guard" and see the likes of Louis Hayes, Mickey Roker, Joe Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes, Victor Lewis, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Persip, Billy Hart and Al Foster play: DO IT !!!

And in case you missed it, here's the Master himself Roy Haynes from his feature on the David Letterman show last night featured as part of "Drum Solo Week":

Haynes, as always, does it in style and never ceases to impress.

Hey folks, I've tipped over 100,000 hits on my blog. Thank you for your continued support !

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jason Marsalis 4tet

Some different clips today of drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, an incredibly multi-talented artist whether playing the drums or on the vibraphone.

Here he is on vibes with a burning quartet, demonstrating some crazy uptempo playing (do people play these tempos anymore outside of New York? They should....but that's for another post!):

From a recent masterclass with some very lucky students:

And on drums with Marcus Roberts demonstrating his very unique approach to the drums and dealing with rhythm:

As a drummer who is also aspiring to play the vibraphone, I find Jason to be an incredible role model and example to follow. It's hard enough trying to learn and master one instrument let alone two !

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gary Burton Quartet

A double dose today featuring some great drumming AND great vibraphone playing from Antonio Sanchez and Gary Burton respectively featured in some concert footage in Seoul, South Korea:

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

-Thanks to Jan Mulder who finished up another successful season of the Cliff-Bungalow/Mission Community Centre Jazz Series here in Calgary. Jan went out of his way to promote this entertaining monthly Jazz series that features local artists. Looks like he's already looking ahead to next year's program. This concert series runs the first Wednesday of every month starting in September.

Last Wednesday I played the vibraphone with the Jazz Winds Composers Collective to finish out this season's concert series. It was great to have the opportunity to play the vibes in a concert situation (a first for me). I hope to continue playing the vibes like this and welcome any opportunity to spread my wings on the vibraphone these days. People were very complimentary with their comments about my playing so I'm think I'm improving!

-Jazz pianist and composer Ray Bryant recently passed away. He was actually quite a significant musician for me as I really enjoyed his (and his brothers) playing on the Jo Jones trio records that he appears on. He also composed the tune "Cubano Chant" which was featured on the Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers record "The Drum Suite" from 1956:

I distinctly remember walking into Vintage Vinyl in Regina, SK when I was a teenager and picking up a used vinyl copy of this record. In fact, I think it was the first vinyl record I ever bought (haven't been many since!)

-My wife and I caught the Summit Jazz Series Part II "Latin Jazz" concert at the Cantos Foundation on Friday evening. The band really cooked and featured some of Calgary's finest including Carsten Rubeling on trombone (who is also producing this series), Jim Brenan on tenor saxophone, Chris Andrews on piano (from Edmonton), Rubim DeToledo on bass and Calgary's dynamic and fiery percussion team of Raul Gomez Tabera and Luis Elpana Tovar. It was a great evening of great Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Latin Jazz all played with the right sound and feel. The concert started out with an intense conga duet between Raul and Luis that got everyones attention really quickly. Was also nice to hear the show finish off with an arrangement of Steve Swallow's salsa tune "Let's Eat!" (based on the changes of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise") from his contrafactual album "Real Book".

-I've got a busy week of gigs ahead of me but be sure to come out and catch the Sheldon Zandboer Trio at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday evening as part of the new Jazz series sponsored by the Cantos Music Foundation and the National Music Centre.

All That Jazz
featuring the Sheldon Zandboer Trio

Thursday, June 9th

Hyatt Regency Hotel
Sandstone Lounge
Calgary, AB


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Drum Solo Week on the Late Show With David Letterman

Looks like the King of late night, David Letterman will be "giving the drummer some" with it's first ever "Drum Solo Week" on the Late Show all next week on CBS.


Look for a different drummer to be featured every evening next week including the likes of Anton Fig, Sheila E, Roy Haynes (!) and Neil Peart. I'll be cueing up my PVR to save those shows next week...

Friday, June 3, 2011


A few more today of Peter Erskine who, incidentally, has released a new instructional DVD entitled "Everything I Know":

I look forward to checking this one out as I'm always impressed with his instructional materials. I just hope that Canada Post doesn't go on strike too long !

In the meantime here's Peter with Alex Acuna in their percussive tribute to Weather Report from a few years back:

I also caught these two in Toronto during their Weather Report/drum clinic tour up at Drums Only and it was great.

Here's a few more of Erskine's clinic from a PASIC conference a few years that also features Mike Mainieri on vibraphone:

Thanks to the thoughtful folks over at Vic Firth who were smart enough to capture all this footage.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tony Williams - Footprints

I never get tired of watching this !!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm always impressed with Trilok Gurtu's ingenious approach to rhythm and his use of different percussion instruments in a way that is uniquely his own. Every time I see him perform I'm inclined to add a dozen bells, shakers and other interesting percussion instruments to my set-up!

Here's a couple clips of Gurtu demonstrating his creative and personal approach to the drums: