Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning with Jack DeJohnette

There is no better way to start one's Monday morning than with some Jack DeJohnette in full-throttle!


Furthermore, here's a couple clips of Jack demonstrating his Sabian 3-point ride cymbals (courtesy of the Memphis Drum Shop) and a chance for us to admire his fine ride cymbal technique:


Friday, April 27, 2012

Mr. Wilson @ The 55 Bar

Matt Wilson is one of Jazz music's creative and innovative shining stars on the scene these days (and a genuine soul also!)

Here's a few close ups of Matt in action from a recent hit at the 55 Bar in New York City:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Sound of Jazz

I first saw a video of this amazing footage in my grade nine band class twenty years ago. My band teacher at the time, Brent Ghiglione, literally sat us down one morning and said: "You have to watch this. This is really important." And he was right! I remember being mesmerized by Jo Jones' fluid and swinging drumming, by the incredible bounce that the entire Count Basie band was able to conjure up when playing together. To get that many people to play and feel time together....that is pure magic folks! And also, while I didn't understand it at the time, I recognized that the interplay between Billie Holiday and Lester Young on "Fine and Mellow" is about as pure as one can get emotionally while playing music...

This is an amazing collection and also features some great drumming from Jimmy Cobb with Miles Davis and also some very rare footage of Vernell Fournier playing some great (and unique!) brushes with the Ahmad Jamal trio (dig the lack of "spread" that he is playing brushes with...how does he get that sound???) The footage of the unsung hero Osie Johnson playing with Thelonious Monk really stands out for me as well (if for nothing else to see Count Basie himself hanging out next to the piano, digging every note - apparently that really pissed Monk off!)

Here's what ol' trustworthy Wikipedia has to say about this important footage:

"The Sound of Jazz" is a 1957 edition of the CBS television series Seven Lively Arts, and was one of the first major programmes featuring jazz to air on American network television. The one-hour program aired on Sunday, December 8, 1957, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, live from CBS Studio 58, the Town Theater at 851 Ninth Avenue in New York City. The show was hosted by New York Herald-Tribune media critic John Crosby, directed by Jack Smight, and produced by Robert Herridge. Jazz writers Nat Hentoff and Whitney Balliett were the primary music consultants.

The Sound of Jazz brought together 32 leading musicians from the swing era including Count Basie, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, Jo Jones and Coleman Hawkins; the Chicago style players of the same era, like Henry "Red" Allen, Vic Dickenson, and Pee Wee Russell; and younger 'modernist' musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, and Jimmy Giuffre. These players played separately with their compatriots, but also joined to combine various styles in one group, such as Red Allen's group and the group backing Billie Holiday on "Fine and Mellow".

The show's performance of "Fine and Mellow" reunited Billie Holiday with her estranged long-time friend Lester Young for the final time. Jazz critic Nat Hentoff, who was involved in the show, recalled that during rehearsals, they kept to opposite sides of the room. Young was very weak, and Hentoff told him to skip the big band section of the show and that he could sit while performing in the group with Holiday. During the performance of "Fine and Mellow", Webster played the first solo. "Then", Hentoff remembered:

"Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been—whatever that was. And in the control room we were all crying. When the show was over, they went their separate ways."

Within two years, both Young and Holiday had died."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On The Mountain

I'm ashamed to admit that this is one Elvin Jones record that I haven't heard or checked out yet!


Thanks to Calgary bassist and world traveller Dale James who has been raving about this one to me over the course of the last couple of weeks via texts, e-mails and smoke signals. And now I know why!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Canadian Jazz Archives

Thanks to the kind people over at Toronto's jazz.fm radio station, they have archived some great Canadian concerts, documentaries and interviews over at www.canadianjazzarchive.org

There are many great live, recorded concerts going back to the 70s and it's a great opportunity to hear the likes of drummers such as Terry Clarke, Bob McLaren, Claude Ranger, John Sumner, Marty Morell, Ted Warren and many others:  http://www.canadianjazzarchive.org/en/concerts.html

There are also several radio documentaries worth checking out that feature many iconic Canadian Jazz artists here: http://www.canadianjazzarchive.org/en/documentaries.html 

The real gem, however, for me is the collection of archived radio interviews with many of the great, legends of Jazz music:  http://www.canadianjazzarchive.org/en/interviews.html

This is a great website/resource and props to who ever thought of coming up with this one. I have to admit that the content is obviously very Toronto-centric however I appreciate the vision and foresight to preserve these recordings and interviews. I think the CBC could take a page from jazz.fm's book given how much material they've also recorded over the years...wouldn't it be great to be able to access all those Jazz Beat sessions that Clare Lawrence produced over the years?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Roy & Winard

Thanks to Bret Primack, the hard working "Jazz Video Guy", here's two great clips of two great drummers. The first features an insightful interview with the great Roy Haynes:


And here's a helpful lesson courtesy of Winard Harper on how to apply the rudiments to the drum set, how to create a vocabulary and the overall importance of thinking and playing melodically on the drums:


Friday, April 20, 2012

Bobby Hutcherson Quartet

Here's a bunch of great ones from a European concert featuring my all-time vibraphone hero. Here is Bobby Hutcherson with his quartet featuring the late, great Eddie Marshall on drums:

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Lesson with Han Bennink

Thanks to the kind people over at NPR here's a short but yet insightful drum lesson with the great Dutch improvisor Han Bennink:

Enjoy the rest of the fine article over here:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ralph Peterson Jr. & Bobby Hutcherson - Mr. P.C.

Myself and Calgary bassist Dale James have been exchanging some lengthy and insightful emails with regards to this performance lately:

Dig Ralph Peterson's ferocious drumming and, in particular, how he's able to maintain the energy of this jam for almost half an hour! That's an impressive feat in itself.

I also love Bobby Hutcherson's vibraphone solo and I really dig how he creates a masterpiece, takes a bit of a break and then he's back for more!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gary Burton Masterclass

Get comfortable! Thanks to our Regina, SK correspondent Dylan Wiest, here is an extensive improv masterclass brought to us by Gary Burton:

Monday, April 16, 2012

New York April 2012

And...we're back.

Sorry for my radio silence over the past few days but I've been in New York City for most of the past week and things have been very busy and on the go...not much time to sleep let alone blog! I don't make it to NYC very often (maybe like only once a year if I'm lucky!) so I always like to pack in as much as I can during my travels.

Here are a few of the highlights of my recent experience travelling to Jazz Mecca:

-The main purpose of my trip was to take a lesson with percussionist and vibraphonist Allan Molnar who teaches at Lehman College in the Bronx. I've been studying with Allan online via Skype for over a year now thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. It's been a great experience and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to travel to New York and work with Allan in person as part of my study project. We spent an afternoon together working over the finer points of playing over rhythm changes and dealing with the art of ballad playing. It was a really motivating experience and I have plenty to work on in the months ahead!

Allan is an exceptional teacher and quite involved with the KoSa percussion camp that Aldo Mazza runs every summer in upstate Vermont:


-I travelled an hour north of New York City by bus and was fortunate to spend a day working with Adam Nussbaum, a great drummer and teacher, who's literally played with the best of the best and who's resume speaks for itself. We did quite a bit of playing together (I played drums while he sang!) and talked at length about his conception of playing time, phrasing, ride cymbal technique and the brushes. We also did a considerable amount of listening together and discussed the music of Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Shirley Horn, Gil Gilberto, Nat King Cole, Ahmad Jamal and Chick Webb. Adam is a superb teacher and a great guy. I would highly recommend seeking him out if you are interested in learning from one of the greats.

As you can see here, Adam is all about the music!

-No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the original Shake Shack in Madison Square park!

-I headed down to the Village Vanguard on Friday evening to hear trumpeter Tom Harrell and his fine quintet. I always make a point of heading to the Vanguard whenever I travel to New York. It was really nice to hear Harrell's fine compositions played by his regular band which has been together for some time now. My buddy Johnathan Blake did a fine job behind the drums giving the music exactly what it needed in terms of dynamics, orchestration and direction. Johnathan is one of my favorite younger drummers on the New York scene these days to listen to so keep your eyes and ears out for him.

I was also nice to hear pianist Danny Grissett again. I just heard him play in Calgary last month with drummer Matt Slocum's trio and it was cool to hear him in a quintet context backing up some horns. I really appreciate his nice touch and very inventive yet melodic style of playing. I'll have to make a point of listening to his own music he's released as a leader sometime soon.

Here is a clip of Harrell's quintet from awhile ago unleashing over a rhythm changes:

(I hope to do that on the vibraphone someday!)

-After catching Tom Harrell's band at the Vanguard I caught up with my old McGill arranging teacher Chuck Dotas (who now heads the jazz department at James Madison University) and we headed down the street to catch pianist Jonny King and his band which featured Ralph Bowen on tenor saxophone, Ed Howard on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. This was killing !!! The whole band sounded great but in particular Ralph and Nasheet really tore it up.

-On Saturday evening Allan Molnar and I caught the first set of Bill Evans' "Soulgrass" band at the Blue Note. The main reason we went was to hear the legendary vibraphonist Mike Mainieri (of Steps Ahead fame) who was to be featured with the group (Randy Brecker and John Medeski were featured earlier in the week). I don't get to hear that many Jazz vibraphonist play all that often so this was quite a treat for me to hear one of the Masters in action. And he certainly didn't disappoint and Allan and I were both spellbound by Mainieri's rubato intro to one of the pieces that featured a solo interpretation of "Here's That Rainy Day". Mike Mainieri is a force and I'm also going to make a point of checking out more of his work in the future, in particular the albums he recorded with Steps Ahead.

The "Soulgrass" band itself was very unique and very different but very interesting (!) Saxophonist Bill Evans is a force on his instrument and really impressed with me with his immense technique and phrasing. The music itself could probably be best described as a mix of Jazz funk/fusion with a heavy dose of Americana bluegrass! It was quite refreshing, Bill Evans and Mike Mainieri played their butts off and I dug it.

Here's a taste from a previous European concert date:

-After taking in Soulgrass at the Blue Note I wandered over the Cornelia Street Cafe to hear bassist Kermit Driscol's group with guitarist Ben Monder, Kris Davis on piano and drummer/percussionist John Hollenbeck. I was only somewhat familiar with Kermit Driscoll mainly from his work with Bill Frisell's trio (Montreal's Mike Shulha was the one who first hipped to the Bill Frissell trio live album years ago while we were studying together at McGill during the mid 90s and that featured Frisell with Driscoll on bass and Joey Baron on drums - my frist introduction to the wide world of Joey Baron!) The band featured Driscoll's very eclectic and involved compositions. The pieces and playing were fine throughout and could not have been more different than the music I had just heard at the Blue Note!!!

The band also played a composition of John's (I don't think they announced the title) that seemed like mostly an orchestrated/textural framework for John's fine and inventive drumming...that was very interesting. Hollenbeck is a drummer and composer that I greatly admire and will also make a point of checking out more of his work for large ensemble and the Claudia Quintet in the days to come.

Here's a a sample of the Claudia Quintet from a few years ago (I really dig his use of the vibraphone/accordion combination!):

It was also nice to hear Kris Davis playing so well. I first met and played with Kris when she was only 18 years old and right out of high school. We met each other at the Banff Centre for the Arts during the summer of 1997 and played quite a bit of trio with bassist Solon McDade. She went on to study at the University of Toronto and then moved to New York City a little over 10 years. She's up to great things these days and making a name for herself in the Big City so be sure to keep your eyes and ears on her music as well.

So as you can see it was one busy but very satisfying week! I'm not sure when I'll be back but it's always an adventure when I travel to New York.

I don't think that one has to live in New York in order to be a "real" Jazz musician these days but I do think that there is a lot to be said for spending time in the Big City, studying with the Masters on their home turf and soaking in as much of the creative energy and music that you can from that city. The musicians who live there play the way they do for a reason and I think that the rest of us owe it to ourselves to try and tap into that by whatever means we can!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, it's sort of spring here in Calgary but winter still refuses to give itself up completely and leave us for good. Personally I'm ready for some warmer temperatures, some fresh air and some green on the trees and shrubs around here for once...let's get on with it already! Anyways, enough of me rambling on about the weather. Here's a few interesting things to take note of this morning in the wide world of Jazz drumming and percussion:

-I was lucky to hear some real world-class musicians this past week here in Calgary. Last Tuesday I caught Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain and The Masters of Percussion at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts. I've seen them before during a performance in Toronto at Roy Thompson Hall a few years ago and it was incredible then and they certainly did not disappoint this time either! Zakir and his cohorts are true masters of rhythm and it was really a mind-blowing experience all around.

The group featured a several soloists on instruments from the greater India/Pakistan region in both solo and ensemble features. The highlights for me were Zakir's tabla duets with his brother that featured them trading some pretty slick polyrhythms back and forth over some really intricate forms and at some ridiculous speeds. And of course, as always, Abbos Kosimov from Uzbekistan stole the show on the frame drum known as the Doyra (and at one point playing three drums balanced on each other at the same time!) I saw Abbos give a brilliant masterclass at PASIC in 2009 and was blown away then too.

Here is a sample of Kosimov's brilliant frame drumming:

And here is a taste of Zakir Hussain and his budding Masters of rhythm:

-Friday evening took me to the Beatniq Jazz & Social club to hear legendary pianist Hal Galper with his trio. The band had a real tight dynamic and a connection you only get from mature musicians that play together a lot and you could tell that they were all really on the same page musically and conceptually. They mostly played Galper's originals but opened the evening's first set with a blistering fast version of "Alice in Wonderland" and finished the first set with a rearrangement of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin". I was really impressed and fascinated by the very dense and loose rhythmic nature that the trio played with and how they really propelled the music forward from the very first note. There was no sense of hesitation or doubt whatsoever! The trio arrangements, as far as I could tell, really blurred the line between playing free and structured, playing in-time/out-of-time but I really dug it and it was really beautiful music to listen to. Drummer John Bishop did a fantastic job, played with a great sound and dynamics and he really exhibited a nice way of orchestrating ideas around the drum set while moving the music forward and giving the music exactly what it needed. I especially appreciated his approach to playing some really fast tempos that broke up the patterns around the drums very effectively. I'd like to hear more of this trio and, in particular, explore more of their personal approach to how they express the notion of time and playing freely together.

Thanks to Bret Primack, The Jazz Video Guy, here is some footage of the very same trio playing and Galper explains their trio concept of open playing very articulately:

-One of my favorite earlier Hal Galper recordings is called "Children of The Night" and features Bob Moses on drums along with Randy and Michael Brecker. Here is one of Rakalam doing his thing that I came across:

-Thanks to David Stanoch who passed along this fine clip of Art Blakey circa. 1979:

-Here's an interesting one of Brian Blade using his hands...

-My good friend Jerome Jennings from New York City is up to great things these days (including work with his group "The Jazz Knights" and the occasional gig with Sonny Rollins!) Check out his EPK:

-Congratulations to Phil Dwyer and David Braid who each recently took home Juno awards for their respective albums. Phil and David are both incredibly talented artists and have also worked very hard on their music over the years. It's very nice to see these two recognized for all the efforts they've put into their projects.

-Courtesy of the New York Public Library's Oral History Project, here is an extended interview with drummer Art Taylor to check out: http://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/arthur-taylor-full-interview (thanks to Mike Melito who found this one!)

-What am I listening to these days?

Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" - Shelly Manne (drums)

Louis Bellson Big Band "East Side Suite" - Louis Bellson (drums)

Dave Pike "It's Time for Dave Pike" - Billy Higgins (drums), Dave Pike (vibraphone)

Brian Barley "Trio 1970" - Claude Ranger (drums)

Ulysses Owens Jr. "Unanimous" - Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums)

Milt Jackson "The Ballad Artistry of Milt Jackson" - Connie Kay (drums), Milt Jackson (vibraphone)

Charles Lloyd "Home" (DVD) - Billy Higgins (drums & percussion)

Miles Davis "Round Midnight" - Philly Joe Jones (drums)

-If you are interested in seeing me play over the next couple of months, here is where I'll be for April and May:


17 Jazz Drumming Workshop - Foothills Composite High School (Okotoks, AB)
18 Drum Set and Percussion Workshop - Banff, AB
19 Sheldon Zandboer Trio - Hyatt Regency, Sandstone Lounge 5-7pm
20 Johnny Summers Quartet - Heritage Park
21 Vibraphone duet with bassist Stefano Valdo - Waves Coffee House on 17th
27-28 Chris Andrew's Tribute to Oscar Peterson - Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)


2 Drum Set and Percussion Workshop - Banff, AB
4-5 Jon McCaslin Quintet Sunalta CD Release - The Cellar (Vancouver)
6 Jon McCaslin Trio recording session (Vancouver)
10 Jeff McGregor Trio - Kawa Espresso Bar
12 Jon McCaslin Quintet - Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)
18-19 Jon McCaslin Quintet - Beatniq Jazz & Social Club
23-25 Oliver Jones Quartet - Theatre Junction Grand
26 National Jazz Summit - Improvisation Workshop
26 Ralf Buschmeyer Quartet- Yardbird Suite (Edmonton)

-I'm off to New York City pretty soon here so I won't be blogging for the next week or so but expect a full report of my travels once I return from the Big Apple. In the meantime, please check out www.cellarlive.com and purchase a copy of my new album "Sunalta" (see below!)

Friday, April 6, 2012


I'm very proud to announce that my latest album entitled "Sunalta" is finally now available on the Cellar Live jazz record label!

This new CD contains all my own original compositions and features the incredible talents of:

Brad Turner - trumpet
Phil Dwyer - tenor saxophone
Tilden Webb - piano
Jodi Proznick - bass

and special guests on two septet numbers:

Steve Kaldestad - alto saxophone
Rod Murray - trombone


Different Mountains
Fort San
Farmer's Vacation
Hymn to Ninkasi (for Herbie Nichols)
Scout's Own
Section 28
Marmalade Margaret (composed/arranged by Paul Read)
The Runaround
Shuffle G

If you are interested in purchasing a copy please send me an email and I'll set you up or visit www.cellarlive.com for more information.

I've been writing and preparing for this album for almost ten years now, basically since my 2003 debut release "McCallum's Island" (send me an e.mail and I'll set you up with one of those as well!)

I hope you all enjoy listening to this record as much as I did making it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Erskine on Big Band Drumming

Thanks to Bret Primack, The Jazz Video Guy, here are some inspiring words of wisdom from someone who really knows it! Here is Peter Erskine on the art of big band drumming:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Straight 8th Drumming with Skip Hadden

Here's a few lessons from Berklee Prof. Skip Hadden brought to us by Vic Firth dealing with some interesting conceptual approaches to playing contemporary, broken straight 8th grooves:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Michael Carvin Unleashes

Special thanks to Dublin's Conor Guilfoyle who hipped me to these two of his former teacher playing with Freddie Hubbard and Junior Cook:

Wow! I really found this one quite inspiring and I'm going to make a point of buying the DVD with the entire concert. I really admire the overall vibe and intensity that they are playing with. You can tell that these guys play like their lives depend on it ! Carvin also plays with a distinctive influence and vocabulary drawn from Tony Williams and Elvin Jones although in a different way than some of his contemporaries such as Jack DeJohnette. I'm digging his cymbal beat and the rich sound he gets from the entire drum set. There is a sense of flow there....well, back to the 'shed (as they say!)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Seinfeld & Buddy Rich

Who knew?

Here's the audio of the mentioned infamous Buddy Rich bus tapes that apparently inspired Seinfeld:

And here's a comic book so you can follow along : )