Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bud Powell in Europe

Dig this compilation footage of Bud Powell with drummer Kenny Clarke:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Calgary Scene - John Reid

Today's column features John Reid, a longtime member of the Calgary Jazz community. John is the full time Prairie Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre in Calgary, and Artistic Director of the Jazz Is Society of Alberta. He has had a radio show weekly for 22 years; from 1981 to 1991 he hosted the weekly Jazz Space and Jazz Spectrum programs on CJAY 92 FM in Calgary and since 1988 he has done the weekly program The Canadian Music Centre Presents on CJSW 90.9 FM in Calgary. Reid has taught Jazz History on an annual basis as Sessional Instructor at the University of Calgary since 1984. He teaches a new course at U of C that he founded, called The African Effect in Music. Reid is a Master of Arts degree candidate at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and his thesis topic is the music of Dexter Gordon. Reid is the founder and past chairman of the Calgary International Jazz Festival (1980) and founding secretary and past president of the Jazz Calgary society.

1) Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you learn to play Jazz?

I took piano lessons, sang in the church choir, played alto saxophone in the school band, heard R&B and then went nuts! I took a class at U of C and learned the blues! Eventually I got a job touring with the band "Stratus Faction".

2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Dexter Gordon - because I love his logic.

3) Name your favorite albums:

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

The Brecker Brothers - anything

Dexter Gordon - "Go!"

4) What sort of things are you practising or developing musically these days?

I practice a few minutes a day in the morning, usually working with an Aebersold play-a-long and things for the Instrumental Society's "Master Saxophonists" concert series.

5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

I play an annual jazz spot with the Instrumental Society of Calgary concert series and play in the funk/gospel band at Central United Church.

6) As the artistic director of the Jazz Is Society of Alberta you have been very active over the years in bringing guest artists to Calgary from abroad and featuring them with local Calgary Jazz artists. What can you tell us about some of the guest artists you’ve worked with and what you’ve learned from them. What future plans does Jazz Is have for presenting live Jazz music in Calgary?

I think that the opportunity for many of us to work with visiting jazz artists has been excellent. I have noticed a difference over the years in the way that local artists who have participated have improved their playing,in their abilities to put difficult music together at short notice, to concentrate and focus with an audience present, and to improve their soloing. It's been very gratifying.

7) Favorite place to eat in Calgary?

Notable Restaurant in my local community of Montgomery.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bird Lives!

Happy Birthday Charlie Parker!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ron Carter Masterclass

Today's post is for all my friends of the bass clef persuasion. Here's bassist and Jazz legend Ron Carter from a recent masterclass at Loyola University:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pat Metheny Trio w/Roy Haynes

Hearing the Pat Metheny album "Question & Answer" was the first time I ever heard drummer Roy Haynes. I was hooked from the very first note and have never looked back since...Here's that very same trio (with Dave Holland on bass) from a European concert date:

Thanks to Patrick Boyle who sent this one my way all the way from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kendrick Scott & Co.

Some great playing here from Kendrick Scott in a jam session (?) with the likes of Chris Potter, Joe Lovano and Francois Moutin on some great tried, tested and true tunes:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cozy Cole Swings

Another short segment from the same French documentary that featured Papa Jo Jone and Milt Buckner last week, here's drummer Cozy Cole showing us how it was done:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A full-length documentary to keep you busy today....here's an up close look at Charles Mingus:

This film actually has a special place in my heart as I first saw a portion of this on PBS when I was 16 years old while flipping through the channels on the television one evening. I only caught a part of it but between the great playing (featuring Dannie Richmond on drums!), Mingus' great compostions and a glimpse into his enigmatic and eccentric personality this 'glimpse' certainly set the stage for a personal lifetime appreciation of his music.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Andre White Interview

Today's special interview features Montreal Jazz drummer, pianist, recording engineer and McGill University professor Andre White.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Andre has released a new album entitled "Code White" that features him on drums joined by trumpeters Kevin Dean and Joe Sullivan, Remi Bolduc on alto saxophone, Kirk MacDonald on tenor saxophone and Neil Swainson on bass. Half of the tracks feature Sullivan's four horn arrangements of Andre's original compositions and the other half features a two saxophone, chordless quartet with bass and drums. The music and playing (as always with this cast) is outstanding.

I decided to take this opportunity to ask Andre about his new album and some other questions regarding his drumming and music:

1) What can you tell us about your musical background?

My father was a jazz pianist so I grew up listening to Hank Mobley and Donald Byrd, Charlie Parker, Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, and a lot of boogie woogie, which he used to play almost every day when he had the time. I got my first drum set when I was 12, an old set of WFL's from a friend of my father's who had retired. Before that I was making noises on the pots and pans in the kitchen when I could. I took some piano lessons when I was young, but hated it, and didn't really consider the piano until I was 15 or so, and after that I more or less taught myself.

How did you learn to play Jazz drums?

Another friend of my father's, Keith "Spike" McKendry, who is a legendary figure to a lot of Montreal and Toronto musicians, showed me paradiddles, which confused me for the next 30 years! He also ranted about Kenny Clarke, and I went out and bought Dexter Gordon's "Our Man in Paris" on vinyl, which was the only disc I could find that named Klook. After hearing "A Night in Tunisia" I was completely sold. After that I played in a rock band called Zodiac with guitarist Bill Coon, and the two of us continued playing and writing music together through high school, CEGEP, and after.

2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Well, I try to listen to everything, but the stuff that I return to again and again is Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Max Roach, Kenny Wheeler, Philly Joe Jones, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, etc.

Who are your favorite drummers?

Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Frankie Dunlop, Jerry Fuller, Paul Motian, Jon Christensen, Jack DeJohnette, Papa Jo Jones, all of them!

3) Name your top 10 favorite albums and how they have influenced you.

This is very difficult, because I spend most mornings before school starts listening to new stuff I have discovered in my Internet travels, trying to fill the holes I have missed in the past. So here are ten IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

1) Bud Powell - "A Portrait of Thelonious"
2) Stan Getz - "Focus"
3) John Coltrane - "A Love Supreme", "Transition", "Interstellar Space"
4) Art Tatum - "Solo Masterpieces"
5) Jimmy Raney - "Motion"
6) Jimmy Raney - "Solo"
7) Bill Evans - "Turn Out the Stars"
8) Elvin Jones - "Coalition"
9) Billie Holiday - "The Complete Columbia Recordings"
10) Kenny Wheeler - "Music for Large and Small Ensembles"

4) What sort of things are you practicing on the drums and developing musically these days?

I'm trying to get better at playing lots of different tempos, and being able to subdivide well in those tempos. I'm also really trying to develop my soloing to speak more as Max did, and especially Frankie Dunlop, because my technique is limited, and I'm getting older and I feel a certain urgency to be able to express myself more clearly. I'm continuing to develop my doubles at a lower dynamic level to achieve this, and I'm also trying to make the switch between doubles and singles as seamless in my soloing as can be.

5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

I just finished a three day recording project which reunited Bill Coon, Dan Skakun and myself playing the original music we used to play almost every week for a few years that never went anywhere. Bill and I revised some of the music through email, and we recorded as many of our tunes from back then that we could. I'm very happy that I was able to make this happen, and feel that I finally have something I can feel good about after I'm gone.

6) Over the years you have accompanied a wide range of Jazz artists as a drummer. What musical "lessons" have you learned from some of the people you have played with?

I learned a lot from my experience with mainly two musicians: Sonny Greenwich and Steve Grossman. Both of them liked to play long solos, and Sonny encouraged me to get away from strict time keeping. That forced me to check out more modern drummers and more modern music, which I desperately needed to do at the time. I had to invent a way of playing that had some time keeping, but also had way more interaction and power. With Steve I had to figure out how to provide momentum behind the soloist during chorus after chorus, learning where the music had to go up dynamically and where it was OK to come down dynamically in a subtle way while the solo continued so that there was more dynamics available as it continued. It's not just dynamics that change, but density in the music as well. Most drummers are used to increasing the density by about the third or fourth chorus of a solo. When you have twenty or thirty choruses it's a different road map. You have to consider every stroke, sound, drum, hand and foot. You have to truly diversify the amount of expression. Elvin Jones, Frankie Dunlop, and Jon Christensen are three contrasting examples of perfect accompanists.

7) In addition to being a great drummer, you are also a world-class Jazz pianist.

Well, thanks!

How has your experience as a drummer influenced your piano playing?

Tremendously. I hope on a good day that my piano accompaniment reflects my drummer thinking, especially when it comes to comping. I've also learned how to play against a drummer in order to "stir the soup" which can be really effective behind a soloist if it's done right, but all the rhythm players have to understand that that's what's happening. It requires being proactive and yet listening carefully outside of your own ego.

How has your piano playing influenced your drumming?

It's enabled me to understand why drummers who play less are as great at times as drummers who play more. I don't think I would ever have appreciated and learned to love Connie Kay's approach if I wasn't a pianist. It also has helped me really hear how the drums actually sound when I'm playing them, and how they might sound if I take care of business.

8) Years ago, during a set break at the Upstairs Jazz Club (Montreal) while playing with guitarist Ben Monder (this was also following a previous weekend where you played there with guitarist Ed Bickert), you confided in me that despite everything that we as drummers are capable of playing on the drum (in terms of comping, fills, polyrhythms, interaction, etc.) at the end of the day and once all is said and done that "all you really have to do is swing!" (ie. keep it grooving!) This simple piece of advice and music humility has stuck with me for a long time and speaks volumes as why so many people enjoy your drumming. What musical advice would you give young musicians who are considering a career as a Jazz drummer in this day and age?

Well, thanks again, but I'm not sure the idea of swinging has the same kind of importance that it did when I was learning how to play. I do know, however, that seldom will anybody get on you for playing good time, whether it's 7/4 or even 8ths or ding-da-ding. They will usually be more vocal about overplaying and underswinging. Bobby Watson told me it was like a standard car. "When it's time for 3rd gear, make sure you're in 3rd gear. Make sure you HAVE a 3rd gear!"

9) Your most recent recording project "Code White" brings together many familiar and frequent musical collaborators of yours.
Please tell us all about this exciting project, the music and your compositions.

I used to do a gig every Christmas vacation at Upstairs when everyone was with their families or out of town. Usually it ended up being trumpet tenor bass and drums, which I enjoyed for the amount of experimentation it afforded. So I resolved to try this with Kirk and Remi, and then I though it would be nice to have a slightly larger ensemble with some arrangements by Joe. I sent him the tunes, mostly lead sheets, and he went nuts. I knew some of the stuff I wrote was going to be "improved" because that's how he works, and I welcomed that. We rehearsed the music in the studio and recorded it. Kirk has been involved with most of my recording projects because he is extremely reliable as an improviser, and always sounds like himself. Remi is a virtuoso with an unbelievable work ethic and abundant imagination. Kevin is well known for his sound and expressive improvising and Joe, in addition to being a first-class composer and arranger, has a fiery and complimentary iimprovising style to Kevin's. You really hear four mature voices when they solo. Neil is the ultimate perfect bassist. His level of musicality scares me when I play with him, but since I'm there to play, I have to try to overcome that. I don't think I've ever heard him play a bad solo. I toured with him in May, and he had to play a couple of questionable borrowed basses. You would never have known from the solos. He's like Tatum that way; he can assess quickly where the instrument is unplayable and avoid those areas without any compromise in his musicianship.

As for the tunes, well, I'm a songwriter more than a composer. If I write a suite, it will have three or four tunes. I'm self taught and I listen to music that most of the time is lyrical and harmonically interesting. That's what I aim for in my compositions. Some of the tunes on "Code White" are based on other tunes; I find that to be a great way to get started on coming up with original material. First I'll write something on familiar changes, and then once I've got the juices flowing, I set off on my journey. I also at times will sit down in my office or at home or whatever and record myself playing the piano freely improvising for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Then, later, the next day or two, I'll listen to what's there. Usually I come up with a germ or strain that I can develop into a tune, in an afternoon or two. Once in a while I will spend months or weeks going over these recordings forcing myself to develop something. I don't write music that quickly, I mean entering notes on a page, because I don't read well, so for me it's faster and more complete to record myself, so I don't forget things.


Here's a few nice clips of Andre in action:

From a recent cross Canada tour, here's Andre playing drums with alto saxophonist P.J.Perry and Kevin Dean on trumpet from the Cellar in Vancouver:

This one is a repost from awhile ago but here's Andre in a trio with Montreal guitarist Greg Clayton and bassist Alec Walkington:

And finally a couple of audio bootlegs of Andre playing drums with bassist Brian Hurley and guitarist Ben Monder:

As you can tell from all these examples Andre plays with an exceptional feel and amazing sense of swing. I first met Andre in 1994 in Regina, Saskatchewan at the Regina Jazz Society (which at the time was being presented at the University of Regina Faculty Club) while he was touring with pianist Bernie Senesky in a group that also featured Mikes Downes on bass and former Miles Davis sideman Gary Bartz on alto saxophone. It was amazing ! Andre really, as he likes to put it, put the music into "3rd gear" that evening (I even distinctly remember an involved version of them playing "Afro Blue"). I immediately appreciated and identified with Andre's style of drumming and that gig was a huge influence on my decision to move to Montreal to study at McGill soon after.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Higgins & Jackie McLean

These two clips made my weekend....thanks Chad!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Triplet Strokes RRR LLL

I thought I would contribute my own "rudiment of the moment" today inspired by Ted Warren's fine work over at his blog Trap'd.

Today's lesson features a rudiment that is often overlooked and underused - the triplet stroke roll. Here are a few exercises and applications that I've found to be very useful.

1) First of all, spend some time on the drum pad or snare drum and remind yourself of the three stroke roll:


This is a great rudiment to develop and control your rebound. Here's a hint: this rudiment is easier to play if you bring your stick back high enough to start with and, hence, give your stick enough room to bounce.

2) The next application is what is known in drum corps circles as an "Egg Beater" hybrid rudiment:



Played in groups of five tuplets, this pattern is actually a combination of both triplet and double strokes. I've heard Jack DeJohnette use this pattern from time to time.

*The next few applications of the triplet stroke roll are inspired by Joe Morello's use of "Stick Control":

1) Here is the three stroke roll in a paradiddle type of alternating hand arrangement:


2) And here organized as a double paradiddle:



3) As an extended triplet paradiddle:



5) And finally as a paradiddlediddle:



*All these patterns should be play as continuous sixteenth note triplets with no break. These are real chop busters and force you to really get your rebound together!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Terreon Gully & Pedro Martinez

Thank you to Winnipeg Jazz drummer Jeff King who brought this nice one to my attention via the Facebook. Here's Terreon Gully in a drumset/percussion duet with percussionist Pedro Martinez:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Warren Wolf with Karriem Riggins

Vibraphonist Warren Wolfe has a new album coming out on Mack Avenue Records this week. I look forward to checking this out and so should you!

Here's a taste of this amazing vibes player featured here with drummer Karriem Riggins and pianist Mulgrew Miller:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Max Roach & Booker Little

Today's post features a rare television appearance of Max Roach's band with trumpeter Booker Little:

Chad Anderson also hipped me this great live set from Max Roach at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1967 with Charles Tolliver, Stanley Cowell and Odean Pope:

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Busy times these days between changing diapers and going through mixes of my next upcoming quintet album (to be released on the Cellar Live label this fall). I'm also hoping to hook up with John Riley this week for a lesson while he's in town teaching at the Mount Royal University Summer Jazz Workshop and Tyler Hornby's drum set camp the following week. I'm also looking forward to hearing John play at the Beatniq next Friday with the faculty ensemble. John always has many thoughtful answers for my many questions. In the meantime, here's a few interesting things to check out around the blogosphere:

-Thanks to Todd Bishop over at his blog Cruiseship Drummer where he dug up this interview with West Coast drummer Dick Berk:


Dick isn't as well known as he should be, in my opinion, but he is really a GREAT drummer and I've admired his work with Cal Tjader, Ray Brown and Milt Jackson for some time. In particular here's an album that I enjoy and is a great example of Berk's swinging drumming:


Thank you Todd for this great find and keep up the great work!

-Speaking of interviews, Ted Panken has published a ton of old interviews over at his blog. Here's a great one with drummer Edward Blackwell:

And another with Herlin Riley:

And finally a double interview with Idris Muhammed and George Coleman:

-My friend and frequent guest blogger here at Four on The Floor Prof. Patrick Boyle forwarded this interesting video article on the future of advertising from marketing guru and blogger Seth Godin and is really worth taking a look:


-Halifax drummer and Jazz icon Jerry Granelli was recently featured on the CBC radio show Q last week. Check out this link for his interview and some really nice solo & duet playing:


And here's another CBC radio interview from a previous episode of Take '5':


-To get us all in a nice, inspired mood for the week ahead here's a masterpiece to admire. I hadn't heard this one in awhile but I'm glad I did. Here's Buddy Rich featured on the epic "Channel One Suite" that also features some great tenor playing from Don Menza:

Speaking of Don Menza, apparently he and trumpeter Sam Noto recently reunited for a gig at the Pilot Tavern in Toronto (with my good friend Bob McLaren on drums!)

Did anybody happen to check that hit out?
Does anybody know of any albums these two recorded together as a front line?

In the meantime, here's a video of Menza and Noto together from a date in New Orleans with Ralph Penland on drums and Cedar Walton on piano on "Cedar's Blues":


SAM NOTO | Myspace Music Videos

Now, I wasn't really familiar with drummer Ralph Penland either but thanks to the youtube.com gods here's some clips worth checking out as well:

-And finally here's another new blog that I've been checking out lately from my friend and frequent collaborator, saxophonist Jim Brenan:

Into the Stratosphere http://jimbrenan.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bill Stewart @ MyCymbal.com

Get comfortable!
Here's Jazz drumming phenom Bill Stewart from his clinic and Q&A session at the Memphis Drum Shop courtesy of MyCymbal.com that was streamed on the web not too long ago:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Calgary Scene - Rubim DeToledo

Today's "Calgary Scene" interview features a frequent musical partner of mine, bassist Rubim DeToledo - one of Calgary's busiest sidemen and also an accomplished composer and band leader in his own right.

1) Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you learn to play Jazz?

At the age of nine I began studying the violin. I was honestly terrible. A neighbour was a retired piano teacher and my mother thought that studying the piano would help my violin playing. Little did she know, I was going to be just as bad at the piano.
Fed up with negative musical experiences (at the ripe age of 12), I was asked by my grade six lunchroom mates what electives I would take in Junior High school. I said, ‘anything but band.’ As it turns out they were all going to take band except me. Peer pressure kicked in and I enrolled in band just to stay close to my friends. That elementary school lunchtime conversation changed my life.

On my first day of band we got to choose our instruments. My band teacher happened to be a working bassist so offered bass as an alternate instrument. I saw on the page, bass guitar. Guitar? That sounds cool. So there it was, secondary instrument bass guitar (primary instrument euphonium.)

Well being bad at violin and bad at piano had prepared me perfectly for grade seven bass playing. I had some facility and ability with my fingers and the strings and could read the bass clef reasonably well. I was better than everyone else instantly. This was the only encouragement I needed.

I had the luck of having an amazing and inspiring band teacher named Dan Breda (who has since passed). He, with a great sense of humour and incredible patience, turned most of us into decent school level musicians and most importantly implanted in us a great respect for music, our teachers and for each other.

After that I went through the paces, attended high school and in grade twelve attend a summer jazz workshop. There I met a great teacher named Gordon Towell. He encouraged me to audition for the Littlebirds Big Band put on by the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton. There I met a lot of great young players many of them I still know and work with today. Doug Berner, Jeff Hendrick, Lina Allamano, and Lyle Molzan in particular. I then attended Grant MacEwan College and met many more great young musicians that I also still know and play with such as Chris Andrew, Jim Brenan, Johanna Sillanpaa, and Don Berner.

During my early career I was really fortunate to be called to play in the house band for the Yardbird Suite jam sessions. Basically I am sure I got called because I was the only guy that owned an upright bass and was available on really short notice. I got to play with the very best musicians in the Edmonton Jazz scene on a weekly basis such as Gord Towell, Sean McAnally, Bill Elmes and Mike Gillespie. This was truly a school for me. They showed me the ropes, tune after tune and eventually I started getting calls for casual and jobbing gigs from them. At the same time I was doing regular jamming with my peers pianist Chris Andrew and drummer Lyle Molzan. We would lift Oscar Peterson arrangements of standards and shed them for hours every day. At that time I started playing in ‘Big’ Miller’s band. One of my first professional gigs was a ten night stint at Emerald Lake Lodge with Big Miller and Chris Andrew and Lyle Molzan. Those are still some of the best and scariest moments of my life. After that I got the chance to work with Tommy Banks and PJ Perry on a semi-regular basis. Playing with these real Canadian Jazz heavies was the best experience I could ever have dreamed of.

From there, all I can say is that I have been trying to develop the skills that all these great musicians shared with me. I can honestly say that I was very fortunate to have this great beginning as a musician and that twenty years later I am still working on trying to achieve the level that these masters introduced me to.

2) Who are your musical influences and why?

It’s a complex question. As a bassist, the usual suspects appear: Jaco, Ray Brown, Mingus, Dave Holland, John Patitucci. I have always been a very groove oriented player and a bassist who enjoys well constructed basslines. James Jamerson, Aston Barret, Me’Shell, Cachao, Cachaito, Paul McCartney and Sting also come to mind.

As a musician or composer I have always been interested in Brazilian musicians such as Caetano Veloso, Djavan and Chico Buarque. I also have been highly influenced by mainstream artists like Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Daniel Lanois.

Most of all, I am influenced by great traditional music. This could mean folkloric music from Cuba and Brazil or Americana and tradition Jazz styles. I am also very interested in people that take these traditional styles and push them forward in unique ways.

As far a traditional Jazz musicians go my favourites are: Cannonball, Coltrane, Miles and Mingus. Modern players I enjoy are: Robert Glasper, Joey Calderazzo and Jason Lindner.

3) Name your top 5 favorite albums and how they have influenced you.

In no particular order:

Weather Report "Heavy Weather" - It was what I needed to hear as a teenager to get me hooked on Jazz music. It was energetic, it had great grooves, the playing was killer and the writing was one-of-a-kind.

Miles Davis "Four and More" - It showed me the possibilities that could come out of playing standards. It also taught me how a rhythm section should work together and also work with the soloist. This was a real band improvising together.

Branford Marsalis "Crazy People Music" - I actually heard this before I heard "A Love Supreme". It had an intensity to it that I was attracted to. I later found that in" A Love Supreme" but I may not have accepted it until I had heard Branford’s band first. It was like an initiation to high-energy post-bop.

John Coltrane "A Love Supreme" - Besides the intensity of the playing and the quality of the playing it was the concept behind the record that really affected me. Coltrane’s revolutionary approach to an extended improvisational concept when put into context of the history of the time is huge. The idea that it’s not the technical playing that mattered in "A Love Supreme" but the spiritual or emotional element that really matter to him. That really struck me and really gave me a deeper respect as to what Jazz could become.

Miles Davis "Birth of the Cool" - What I got out of this record was the beauty and sophistication of the arrangements and the understated approach to the playing. When you’re a young or immature player the flashy, higher, louder, faster thing is really easy to embrace. Then you hear something like this and you, for the first time, take a peek into the crystal ball and see a new musical universe. It really messes with your preconceived notions of what “it” is really all about. Many musicians (with a lot of talent and technique) NEVER get past the initial phase. They stop at the flashy, higher, louder, and faster kinds of music. But there is so much more. Really that’s the beauty of music (or art). You think you've got it and then ‘Boom’ you’re back at square one!

4) What sort of things are you practicing or developing musically these days?

The things I am working on these day, and it seems forever, are technique (lots of classical etudes, exercises, scales and arpeggios), ear training, time/groove/feel and learning more standards. I'm pretty sure that this is what everyone is working on.

5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

Right now my primary musical goal is composing new music. I always try to keep my bass chops up but really I enjoy writing new music or I like improvising in a band context. I hope to record a new jazz record in the next 12 months so I want to really gather a strong batch of original tunes and get out there and play them with as many combinations of musicians as possible. I really want to workshop my material live before I hit a studio to document it. I feel a lot of people (including myself), with the new ease of recording, are putting out a lot of CDs but maybe aren’t really ready yet. I don’t want to rush my next recording. I want it to be special.

6) In addition to being an accomplished Jazz player you also have extensive knowledge and experience playing Brazilian music and genres from South America and Cuba. Can you elaborate on how you learned about those styles of music and how they have influenced your Jazz playing?

My parents are Brazilian and I have always been drawn to Brazilian music. I love the balance of rhythmic, harmonic and melodic integrity that Brazilian music incorporates. Few styles music can compare in this aspect. I have been to Brazil countless times and have lived there from time to time. I have checked out a lot of Brazilian music on record and a lot of live Brazilian music while in Brazil. I have been fortunate to gig there and all of this makes everything I play and compose, inherently, have a very subtle but underlying Brazilian tinge to it.

I have also studied quite a bit of Cuban. I have been to Cuba four times and have studied with a variety of Cuban bass players including Carlos del Puerto of Irakere and Cubanissmo. Along with fellow Edmontonians Mario Allende and Chris Andrew, I played in a Latin-Jazz group called Bomba extensively. With Bomba we have recorded 4 albums and toured Canada extensively as well as many international dates. Most importantly though is that we have had many great Cuban, Latin and Jazz musicians work with us throughout the years. These people really became teachers to me. Raul Tabera, Toto Berriel, Luis Emilio Rios, Luisito Obregoso, Aldo Aguirre, Neraldo Duran, Levan Morejon, Jose Seves, and Oscar Valdez come to mind. It is incredible the natural and technical ability that these musicians possess. Their rhythmic sense is so deep and there energy is tireless.

7) Favorite place to eat in Calgary?

I can’t possibly narrow this down to one but I will settle for four places:

Jimmy’s A&A NW (Go there now!)

Gaucho Grill (Brazilian BBQ)

Mimo (Portuguese home-style cooking)

Home (My wife is a great Cuban inspired cook and I love to cook myself)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bobby Hutcherson & Harold Land

Another gem forwarded to me from cymbalholic.com mastermind Chad Anderson:

Great drumming from Joe Chambers and, as always, amazing playing from Bobby Hutcherson. Also nice to hear Harold Land, a guy whose playing I always admired from his days with the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Art Taylor!

GREAT drumming here today featuring Art Taylor with Sonny Rollins:

Anybody have any ideas as to who that bass player is?

(Editor's note: Irish bassist/blogger Ronan Guilfoyle and a host of others have informed me that this bassist is in fact Gilbert 'Bibi' Rovére, a French bassist who played a lot with visiting American musicians)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well it's been awhile since I've had time to write a proper blog post. Things have been quite busy here over these past two months. Being a new father will do that to you but all is good ! Here's a few things on the go here at Four on the Floor:

- I had the pleasure of hearing the Jeff McGregor Quintet on Saturday evening at the Beatniq Jazz & Social Club in a band that featured Jeff on alto saxophone, Brent Mah on tenor saxophone, Steve Fletcher on piano, Kodi Hutchinson on bass and Calgary-turned-Montrealer Andrew Dyrda on drums. The band featured Jeff's original compositions that brought together a myriad of influences and you can learn more about him here from a previous edition of the "Calgary Scene".

Andrew's drumming was exceptionally musical and demonstrated a real maturity and development towards creating an original identity since I last heard him (Andrew was an occasional student of mine about six years ago before he moved away). Dyrda is certainly a young drummer you'll want to keep an eye on in the years to come as his dedication and hard work ethic is certainly paying off. You can learn more about Andrew in another upcoming edition of the "Calgary Scene".

- What am I listening to these days?

Between a productive trip to Calgary's premier used record shop Recordland and a shopping spree on iTunes, I've been listening to a lot of great music lately. Here's some that have caught my attention and I've been enjoying lately:

Milt Jackson "Milt Jackson and the Thelonious Monk Quintet" Milt Jackson - vibraphone, Kenny Clarke - drums

Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" Shelly Manne - drums

Joe Locke Trio "Very Early" Joe Locke - vibraphone, Adam Nussbaum - drums

Louis Bellson Big Band "Explosion" Louis Bellson - drums

Benny Green Trio "Source" Kenny Washington - drums

The Modern Jazz Quartet "European Concert" Milt Jackson - vibraphone, Connie Kay - drums (thanks Jesse!)

Mike LeDonne Trio "Common Ground" Kenny Washington - drums

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner "Manhattan Moods" Bobby Hutcherson - vibraphone

Kevin Dean Quintet "Since 1954" Dave Laing - drums

Herbie Hancock "Trio 77" Tony Williams - drums

Kenny Drew "Tough Trio" Philly Joe Jones - drums

Russell Gunn "Gunn Fu" Ali Jackson Jr. - drums

Andre White "Code White" Andre White -drums

- I've known Montreal drummer Rich Irwin since my McGill days and he's doing great things touring with Nikki Yanofsky's band these days. Here's Rich showing off his nice new Sonor drums:

- Check out this amazing Tony Williams drum clinic that has been making the rounds lately:

- This is not a terribly long clip but I enjoyed the brief up close footage here of drummer Adam Nussbaum:

You can really sense the incredible energy and deep sense of swing that he plays with even in this short one !

- Speaking of swing, this is the first footage of Thelonious Monk I ever saw when I was a teenager (from a 1950s CBS television program entitled "The Sound of Jazz" and if you haven't seen this in its entirety then check it out!):

Dig the ever swinging and tasteful drumming of Osie Johnson on that one (and an attentive Count Basie hanging out next to the piano as well!)

- Please come check out this exciting upcoming gig of mine this coming Thursday:

The Vaughn Ambrose Trio

Appearing at the
Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
811 - 1st Street SW
Calgary, Alberta

Thursday, August 11th 9pm


Vaughn Ambrose - Tenor Saxophone

Rubim DeToledo - Bass

Jon McCaslin - Drums

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Does Anybody Have...

...one of these Camco/Tama bass drum pedals they want to sell me?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Calgary Scene - Ralf Buschmeyer

Today's Calgary Scene interview features one of Calgary's finest all round musicians, guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer. I've been very fortunate to have played with Ralf in a number of situations over the years and he always brings his A game to the bandstand along with a friendly attitude, a virtuosic ability on the guitar and a musical imagination that is matched by his professionalism and ability to cover a wide range of musical situations.

1) Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you learn to play Jazz?

My Dad is a big music fan. He had music on around the house a lot. I caught on to Blues and R&B when I was around 12, really listening. I liked Eric Clapton and Booker T & the MGs and had my first guitar at 13. Eventually, I found stuff like the 70's Jeff Beck fusion records, Spectrum by Billy Cobham and then Robben Ford. I asked a guitar teacher about how Robben was getting his sound, and he mentioned that Robben was influenced by jazz. Miles & Coltrane, notably. That led to finding guys like Mike Stern who then turned me on to Wes Montgomery and it wasn't too long before I was a full-time student studying with Lorne Lofsky.

2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Well, among the people mentioned in the last answer, I think I've been influenced by just about everything I've spent time learning. From intensive studies of jazz players, to songs I have found inspiring/curious/humorous/disrupting that perhaps I had to learn for a gig. It's all gone into informing me on how to play.


Robben Ford - for making the blues sound sophisticated while still honoring the tradition of a simple music form.

Mike Stern - for bridging a rock influence with legit bebop lines and phrasing as well as a great tone.

Lorne Lofsky - for regular, routine butt-kicking (as well as setting a high level of artistry). My college experience was great, a lot of that has to do with who you get as a private teacher, I believe. I don't think I could have asked for anyone better.

Wynton Kelly - made jazz sound natural and swinging. Wynton had a huge influence on my comping and sense of time.

John Coltrane - for ferociously attacking chord changes and not allowing jazz to be background music.

Miles Davis-uncanny band - leading and being impossibly cool.

Rock/Blues guys include - Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray, Albert King, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Morse

Country guys - Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley

3) Name your top 5 favorite albums and how they have influenced you.

In chronological order:

Slowhand (Eric Clapton) - Made me want to experience playing rather than just listening.

Wired (Jeff Beck) - Rock guitar played with jazz changes. A gateway record, for sure.

Talk To Your Daughter (Robben Ford) - Blues that was jazz informed. I needed to know how to get that sound.

Time In Place (Mike Stern) - Jazz guy with a rock sound. Blew my mind.

Kind Of Blue (Miles Davis) - Confirmed jazz was, indeed, cool. I'd put it on every night before I went to bed in college and got the feel for swinging 8th notes in my head. Gateway to Wes, Coltrane, all other Miles, Bill Evans, and on and on....

4) What sort of things are you practicing or developing musically these days?

Always working on my time and finding rhythmic variations in my playing. Always working on new lines, including a lot of arpeggios and 4ths these days.

5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

Putting together CD #7, bebop stuff with bands from Calgary, Vancouver & TO. Also doing year 2 of the Blues & Jazz Guitar Workshop at Mount Royal University.

6) As a sideman you have played with a great variety of artists and genres over the years. Can you tell us about your experiences and some of the lessons you have learned from playing with these musicians?

Bob Day gave me an example of a guy who never stopped the learning process and never compromised his own playing.

Ingrid Jensen was fun, encouraging and demanded a high level of artistry.

Ralph Bowen set a ridiculously high bar of ability and creativity. Having to follow him on a solo was not an ideal place to be, at the same time it was a real test.

Jim Brenan is reaffirming that you can be from anywhere and be great.

I have learned from just about everyone I've ever played with. sometimes what to do, sometimes what not to do. But it's all practical knowledge. It's also worth mentioning that I've met or opened for several people that I really admire like John Scofield, Mike Stern and Wayne Krantz who were ALL very nice people. That was a lesson in itself.

7) Favorite place to eat in Calgary?

Spiro's. Had my wedding dinner there, great family, best pizza ever, I've never been disappointed. Try the 'Spartan warrior'!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brian Blade with George Garzone

Thank you to Norbert Botos (a very fine, up and coming drummer in his own right!) for hipping me to this one of Brian Blade tearing it up with Boston tenor saxophonist George Garzone:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Erskine en Italia

Da alcune prestazioni recenti della clinica del tamburo in Italia, here' s mai il musical ed il Peter altamente articolato Erskine nell'azione:


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Barry Romberg

Here's another drummer today who I feel should get some wider recognition, Toronto-based Canadian Jazz drummer Barry Romberg. Barry plays with a real inventiveness and aggressive approach to the drums and is the choice sideman for many of Toronto's Jazz artists these days as well as leading his own groups (such as his Random Access large ensemble) and teaching at York University.

Here's Romberg in action with tenor saxophonist Kirk MacDonald and bassist Kieran Overs from a trio date at Rex Hotel & Jazz Bar in Toronto on the standard "All The Things You Are":

Monday, August 1, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Patrick Boyle on Jon Christiensen

My good friend Patrick Boyle was nice enough to contribute a guest blog post today featuring some commentary about the great Norwegian ECM drummer, Jon Christiensen.


The recent tragic events in Norway had me reaching into parts of my CD collection I had not visited in some time. There is so much amazing Norwegian jazz. I enjoyed my limited time in Oslo working on cruise ships moons ago and I was moved by the warmth and friendliness of the people. Geographically, Norway and Newfoundland (my home) are close cousins. Fjords, vast unswimmable oceans, trees that grow sideways, and a seemingly endless winter. The people of Norway know how to adapt. They have a connection to the land and sea that transcends generations, and this symbiotic relationship is represented in much of the best Norwegian jazz and improvised music.

Drummer Jon Christensen is one of my all-time favorite musicians on any instrument. His sparse but totally convicted style is most often heard on ECM releases by Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stense, Terje Rydpal, Iro Haarla, Eberhard Weber, Dino Saluzzi, Tomasz Stanko and many others.

Without meaning to diminish Christensen’s original contributions to the Keith Jarrett European Quartet, it’s impossible for me to consider him without bassist Palle Danielsson. To date they remain one of the great rhythm sections in jazz - masters of subtlety without a wasted communal gesture. Jarrett changes moods suddenly, and Daneilsson and Christensen never let the moment down. Here is a video from 1974. In particular, check out his accompanying of Danielsson from 2:12 – 3:10.

Playing with such a delicate yet confident touch is extremely difficult. He switches from implying time to, in my opinion, implying space. This band created melodies that required all hands to breathe together. Christensen effortlessly opens up the space, heightening the “ceiling” in which the music can fit, and the closes it back up again when the time is right. Jarrett has said in interviews that he wrote for himself and Garbarek and allowed Chistensen and Danielsson to “do what ever they felt like.”

On the complete flipside, check out Christensen laying into ‘Oleo’ with Michael Brecker, NHOP, Philip Catherine, and Gordon Beck:

It’s hard to see his incredibly fluid ride cymbal in that video. Here’s one with John Scofield where we can see both his nimble right hand and unusual cymbal set up:

My personal favourite Jon Chistensen cut would be on the Nude Ants recording of the European Quartet live at the Village Vanguard. Listen to how he alternates between strictly laying down the groove and getting the hell out of the way on ‘Chant of the Soil’:

Thank you Jon Christensen and please keep inspiring all you play with to play their very best. ECM released a ‘greatest hits’ package of Christensen gems available below. The liner notes encapsulate this master musician:

"Christensen has the rapacious appetite of Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes, but combines it with the wonderfully light dancer’s touch of a Billy Higgins. The nine tracks shown here highlight Christensen’s ability to adapt, colour, and in some cases even drive the vision of a bandleader towards it’s flourish."



Thanks Patrick!

editors note:

For all the drummer types out there, here's some good footage of Jon Christensien from a "drummer's" angle: