Friday, November 30, 2012

Drums for Sale...

I know this isn't kijiji or craigslist...but I'm selling a fun little set of jazz drums these days.

For Sale: Jazz Drums


16x16 Bass Drum

12x9 Tom

14x14 Floor Tom

14x5 Snare Drum

-Tom, floor tom and snare drum are all professionally refinished Gretsch Catalina maple shells

-The bass drum is a converted high-end Epek maple floor tom shell with proper bass drum hardware and parts professionally installed

-Drums have been refinished in a classic “Tony Williams” Yellow stain

-Die cast hoops on both the tom and floor tom

-Snare drum has a Trick throw-off installed, Pure Sound snare wires and die cast hoops. Bearing edges and snare bed have been professionally re-cut.

Also included (not pictured):

-Tom mounting post
-Gibraltar removable bass drum pedal riser attachment
-Floor tom legs
-16" inch soft bass drum case
-Extra bass drum heads

Does NOT include hardware or cymbals

Price firm. No trades.
Serious inquiries only.

Inquire within!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Three Approaches to Fast Ride Cymbal Technique

One thing that I've been practicing and trying to improve on in my own playing over the past few years is my facility at playing fast tempos. Some lessons with John Riley and incorporating his "open/closed"
ride cymbal/hand technique (ie. let the stick do all the work!) has personally really helped me open things up and take my fast ride cymbal playing to another level.

Today I've compiled three approaches by three very accomplished and renowned teachers:

- As I mentioned above here is John Riley demonstrating his technique:

From my time with John he told me that this approach was greatly influenced by Tony Williams and his  loose, dancing up-tempo beat.

Here's an example of Tony in action playing as John described to me:

- Here is long time UNT drum set prof. Ed Soph demonstrating his approach, first as a basic bounce pattern on a drum pad and then applying it to the ride cymbal:

- And finally here's Ralph Peterson Jr. from his excellent dvd from Jazzheaven.com:

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Hope you all had a pleasant weekend. For all those Canadian football fans out there (yes, I'm referring to REAL three down football with the BIG balls ya dig?) I trust you all enjoyed your Grey Cup parties (and congrats to the Toronto Argonauts on their victory over the Calgary Stampeders...look out next year as my beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders will rise and conquer, just wait!)

Here's a plethora of interesting things to check out today, many of which that were forwarded to me by many loyal readers from around the globe:

- Further to my last post on the recent passing of drummer Pete LaRoca, here's a nice article courtesy of NPR's A Blog Supreme:


- Conor Guilfoyle, a very fine drummer from Ireland, demonstrates his approach to playing a broken, swing feel:

Sounds great Conor!

- I was very fortunate to spend some time working with the great Joe LaBarbera in the past month. I have lots to work on and think about these days including this recent article written by Joe where he shares his thoughts about playing fast tempos:


- And from that same webpage here's insightful article by Allan Herman (who was recently featured in Billy Martin's very fine DVD "Life on Drums")"


- Here's a nice, up close one of Joe Farnsworth in action with Pharoah Sanders:

If you find yourself in Vancouver, B.C. this coming weekend be sure to catch Farns with Mike LeDonne's trio at the Cellar. Wish I could be there!

- Courtesy of the kind people over at Vic Firth, here's a great breakdown of Al Jackson Jr.'s iconic groove on "Green Onions" as explained by Zoro:


- From a recent masterclass here's the great Peter Erskine demonstrating his "comping game" exercise:

- If you find yourself in Edmonton next weekend I'll be playing with an exciting band at the Yardbird Suite on Friday and Saturday nights, playing Duke Ellington's imaginative interpretation of the Nutcracker Suite:

The Yardbird Suite All-Stars
directed by Craig Brenan
Play the Duke Ellington Arrangements of the Nutcracker Suite

Friday - Saturday, November 30 - December 1, 2012
Tickets - Members $24, Guests $28
Doors 8 PM - Show 9 PM

Jim Brenan, Jerrold Dubyk, Sarah Matheson, Ray Baril, Mark Dejong  - woodwinds
Craig Brenan, Marty Majorowicz, Ken Read - trombones
Dave Morgan, Allan Gilliland, Sergio Rodriguez, Doug Berner - trumpets
Chris Andrew - piano
Jeff Johnson - bass
Jon McCaslin - drums

For a twist on seasonal classics, nothing beats the Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington. The "Duke" jazzed the titles of Tchaikovsky's legendary score - "Dance of the Reed Pipes" became "Toot Toot Tootie Toot," "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" was rechristened "Sugar Rum Cherry" - and then added swinging brass and colorful solos to the familiar tunes. The whole suite is filled with holiday joy. The evening will feature the complete suite as well as a selection of swingin' holiday jazz standards.

- Billy Drummond has long been one of my favorite contemporary Jazz drummers and during the early 2000's if there was an album on the Dutch Jazz record label Criss Cross that featured Billy, I had it! He's been a big influence on me and I've always really dug his unique style and sound. He's a nice little interview with Billy and an example of his great playing to check out:

- Thanks to cymbalholic.com patron saint Chad Anderson, here's a recent interview with my vibraphone hero, the great Bobby Hutcherson:

- And of no mention of Bobby Hutcherson is complete with out mentioning this amazing clip of Hutcherson with Harold Land and Joe Chambers!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Farewell Pete LaRoca

The great but lesser-known Pete LaRoca recently passed away. His drumming on Joe Henderson's "Page One" always had an impact on me. Every time I play "Blue Bossa", THAT is the sound I'm going for on the drums! And his driving groove on Henderson's "Homestretch"...yep, that's it! For several months during early 2000 a cassette copy of that album never left my mother's red Volkswagen Golf that I was driving around Regina at the time (Side B contained "Mode for Joe" with Joe Chambers and Bobby Hutcherson - another favorite).

Peter Hum over at his fine blog jazzblog.ca had these thoughts regarding LaRoca's passing:


Here's a clip of LaRoca in fine form with Sonny Rollins from a 1959 broadcast in Holland (thanks to my European correspondent David Grebil who dug this one up!):

David Liebman, who was mentored by LaRoca during the late 60s, also had these inspiring words to offer:


"Before the advent of so many jazz programs in America, the question used to be to a young musician: "Who did you play with?"

The inference was what "master" did you serve under.

(Now the question is: "What school did you attend?")Those of you familiar with my background know that I most notably put in a few years with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis (and Chic Corea much later). But my first true employer was drummer Pete LaRoca Sims. (The name LaRoca, meaning the Rock, came from his reputation, but his real name was Sims.)

I have written in my biography about my audition with Pete, Steve Swallow and Chick Corea in 1969 playing a few bars of “Softly” before Pete stopped the music and said: ”Let’s rehearse.” I spent the next six months with him mostly doing a gig at a club on 69th Street and Broadway called La Boheme paying five dollars a night-(absolutely true).

We ended that cycle playing the Village Vanguard on Thanksgiving weekend in 1969, forty three years ago…my first time there.

I was substitute teaching in NY schools at the time to make a living residing in my first of many lofts on West 19th Street in Manhattan trying to learn the music. For those six months every bass player and pianist in New York worked with Pete and me.

He was my first teacher in all ways. He was a brilliant guy who after being so disenchanted with the music business became a lawyer. Over the next decades, every once in awhile he would put together a group to work a few weekends in NY, but basically Pete went into sunset mode.

He was by far one of the most brilliant minds I ever knew, one of the greatest musicians I ever encountered who for starters would sing the bass line IN KEY and was a drummer like no one else.
Coltrane had him before Elvin; he worked with Newk; Miles wanted him to join as did Herbie Hancock when he branched out on his own.

Pete was one of a kind … a stubborn, brilliant guy who insisted on perfection. I will never forget the lessons he taught me, which I recite almost daily in my teaching. For me, Pete’s passing is in a sense like the passing of a father or uncle, meaning of all my mentors he was the last to survive.

Maybe now, I am truly on my own!!"

- Lieb on the road

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Joe Ascione

I'd like to thank Mike Clark via the Facebook for this one today:

One regular reader of my blog recently wrote me, wondering what Joe Ascione is up to these days (if you'll recall, I posted some clips of Joe's brush playing awhile ago). Honestly, I have no idea what he's up to these days but from the above clip you can see that he's a ridiculous drummer.

Check out that INSANE left hand!!! How does he make it look so effortless? Buddy who???

I took some lessons with Joe back in 2004 while I was spending some time in New York City. His teaching studio was literally in the basement of the Ed Sullivan Theatre (!) below Late Night with David Letterman. He was very astute in his observations of my playing and made some small, but very important observations about my technique that, to this day, have had a great impact on how I play.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gadd on Brushes (on a box!)

Monday's post featuring some recent footage of Steve Gadd performing at this year's edition of PASIC got me searching for more of this modern day Master. As Dave Mancini put it to me during a lesson together last week: "Gadd NEVER overplays" and he's right!

Here's a cool one of Gadd demonstrating his brush technique:

And here's more footage of Gadd's drum clinic from the 2005 edition of PASIC in Columbus, Ohio:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rodney Green with the Benny Green Trio

Drummer Rodney Green is another of my favorite contemporary jazz drummers on the scene today. I was really impressed with his playing on pianist Eric Reed's album "E-Bop" from several years ago and he's really playing great and developing his own sound and style these days.

Here's some more recent examples of Green's fine playing from a recent concert date in Thailand with pianist Benny Green (no relation!) and Ben Wolfe on bass:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Things are really on the go for me these days but I'm still trying to blog as often as possible. I'm just humbled that people are still interested in what I have to say these days! Here's a few interesting things making the rounds this week over here at Four on the Floor: 

-I didn't make it to PASIC 2012 in Austin, Texas this year but from all reports it was stellar (as usual!) Here is the legendary Steve Gadd with percussionist Pedrito Martinez:

Dig how Gadd's famous grooves and feel fits seamlessly with Martinez' Rhumba patterns on the Bata drums and vocals.

-Here's some fun up close footage of Matt Wilson with tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger on a tune called "Taurus People" originally made famous by Elvin Jones from his "Live at the Lighthouse" sessions from the early 70s:

-When Kim Thompson isn't on the road with Beyonce she frequently shares the stage with guitarist Mike Stern. Here she is in a solo spot with Stern at the 55 Bar:

-Cuban-born drummer Francisco Mela has been one of my favorite contemporary young lions these days. Here he is from a performance at New York's Blue Note Jazz club:

-What am I listening to these days?

Jim Hall - "Live!" Terry Clarke (drums)

Pat Metheny - "Trio Live" Bill Stewart (drums)

Joe LaBarbera Quintet - "Silver Streams" Joe LaBarbera (drums)

Christian McBride Big Band - "The Good Feeling" Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums)

Chet Baker - "Chet Baker in New York" Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Brandi Disterheft - "Gratitude" Greg Hutchinson (drums)

Phineas Newborn Jr. - "Harlem Blues" Elvin Jones (drums)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Matt Wilson/Jeff Hamilton Drum Battle!

I've always been a sucker for drum battles or, as I like to call them, "Percussion Discussions". Some of my early favorites include the Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa drum battles from Jazz at the Philharmonic, Rich vs. Roach and Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland.

Here's an impressive rhythmic exchange between Jeff Hamilton and Matt Wilson to enjoy from last summer's Port Townsend Jazz Festival:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Joey Baron's GIGANTIC Drum Solo

Just as the title reads on this youtube.com video, here is Joey Baron playing a GIGANTIC drum solo with the Dave Douglas & Joe Lovano Quintet from a recent performance in Budapest (hoping these guys actually record this project sometime soon!):

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ali Jackson Jr. & Joshua Redman

And....we're back.

(and thanks to Mr. Patrick Boyle who provided that very eloquent interlude while I was working in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last week!)

Here's an interesting clip today of Jazz @ Lincoln Center drummer Ali Jackson Jr. in an impromptu, post rehearsal jam with tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman (dig the slick fast cymbal work and some nice brushwork!):

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post: Patrick Boyle's Choice Cuts

Thanks to my good friend and partner-in-crime Professor Patrick Boyle, here is an insightful and generous guest blog post to muse upon today.

"Choice Cuts" by Patrick Boyle

I enjoy reading blog posts of artists ‘top ten’ lists of key recordings. It’s a fun way to learn about their backgrounds. I had a teacher once who said ‘you are what you eat, you are what you listen to.’ So I compiled the following informal annotated best-of list that includes some of my most favourite recordings for my students at the University of Victoria. I passed it along to your favorite drum blogger (and mine) Jon McCaslin who asked me to turn it into a blog post. Here you go, in no particular order:

Miles Davis - Love for Sale

Just a killer. So many personalities working together. Everything a young jazz musician needs is here.

Miles Davis - Walkin' (Live in Tokyo 1964)

Just listen to the drums and piano for the entire trumpet solo and maybe that's all you'll ever need to hear for the rest of our lives. I have likely played this at least once in ever class I've ever taught.

Hank Mobley - Soul Station

Total swinger. If jazz makes you burb, then wear a bib listening to this. Capital ‘J’ jazz. Wynton Kelly on piano is so fluid.

Keith Jarrett - Survivors Suite

A warning about Survivors Suite. For me, this is truly heavy. Esp 12min-18:30. There are moments on this record that I feel were made for me alone to hear, as though there is an alien secret language in the notes. Obviously that cant be true, but Jarrett is unreal (he plays piano, soprano and flute on this recording, with Dewey Redman on tenor, Charlie Haden on bass, and Paul Motian drums). Of course the record might not resonate the same way with you, but for me I would honestly say this is my most favorite single jazz recording, even more than the Love for Sale.

Mike Murley, Dave Liebman, Jim Vivian, Ian Froman Live at the Rex in Toronto


I was at this show with Jon. Jim is an old friend from Newfoundland and Murley plays on my last record, so there's the idea of hearing friend's personalities come through their music while listening to it WITH friends that appeals to me here. And if you know a little of their backstory with Liebman then it’s kind of like THEM listening to a friend. Meta-meta listening! This sound quality of the gig doesn't translate as well on YouTube, and I don’t know what the band thinks about it being online, but take my word for it...it was super super heavy. They made a wonderful record available here http://www.cornerstonerecordsinc.com/pages/cat130.html

Many people, including me were completely transported at this show to somewhere way way far away....somewhere where 'potential' and 'imagination' meet and where it might be possible to hear everything at once forever. One of the top two or three shows I've ever witnessed.

Barry Elmes Quartet - Grooveyard

This was the 2nd jazz group I ever saw in my life (around 1991). Kevin Turcotte was my trumpet teacher for many years. To me, this is quintessential 'Canadian' jazz. You can set your watch by the time-feel of any member of the band. Beyond solid.
It’s funny…Jon and I grew up thousands of miles away from each other but we bonded over so much of the same music, especially this band.

Murley, Bickert & Wallace – Test of Time


 This record isn’t out yet, but it is streaming for free till Nov 5. What a thrill. If you are in Toronto be sure to check out the Ed Bickert Celebration Nov 29. This record, like so many others on this list, is so full of ‘time.’  I swear, all I need is to hear really great time.

 Ron Miles - Quiver

This record came out recently. Ron is a fave trumpeter of mine with my two other faves, Bill Frisell on guitar and Brian Blade on drums. Ron's sound is visceral, from the heart. Without a bassist, the time has to flow naturally/authoritatively from each player.

Django Reinhardt -Limehouse Blues

I first heard this with my parents in Heathrow when I was maybe 12 or 13. My folks are the type of people to buy me things I want to shut me up. Later, when I found out that what he did at 1:34 was done with only two fingers on his right hand, I realized maybe my 'able-bodiedness' was capable of more than I was putting it through. It helped me try harder.

Lyle Lovett - Simple Song

Ok, not jazz…but so much more. Lyle is serious. I've seen him a couple of times live and have rarely experienced a performer 'giving it' more. His lyrics aren't that straightforward. They can be taken many ways. But the melodies are direct and his stage show flawless. Really, this is all about the last lyric for me.

Penderecki - Polymorphia

This is more fun to listen to with the score. What kind of mind made this? Dang.

Pat Metheny on Night Music

'Night Music' for many musicians born when I was born was a huge deal. It was on quite late. Saxophonist David Sanborn was the host and he would assemble only the deepest and most progressive musicians. Metheny is beyond words. A true jazz fiend....not friend. He is a fiend. Wherever he is right now as you are reading this sentence, he is practicing.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

I got this record for my birthday in 1995. To really dig it, you should go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Love_Supreme to learn some of the issues behind the music itself. I think about this record when I am unsure about things. It has deep answers to questions I haven't really formulated. Coltrane at this time was on a quest. We are all on some kind of quest. Coltrane acknowledged it though. He was honest about what he didn't know.

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats

I have all my uncles old LPs and among them is an abundance of Zappa. Zappa would've been the greatest music prof ever had he had the chance. A vast mind with a tendency to disrupt protocol of all kinds. Google more for some deep live cuts. Hot Rats is just my fave Zappa studio record, but so many have deep resonance, especially considering his stage banter.
Wynton Marsalis - Green Chimneys

This trumpet playing, especially from 3.27 onward, necessitates a force and commitment we can all have if we really try. Think about THAT!!!

Joe Zawinul – The Harvest

How this record was for sale in Corner Brook, Newfoundland I’ll never know. How no one plays this tune that often I’ll also never know. This is a great live version. Bobby McFerrin is on the studio version from the album “Dialects.”


Ornette Coleman - Lonely Woman

Jon and I share much love for Ornette and his fabulous musicians. I had the privilege of giving the pre-concert lecture for the Ornette Coleman concert at Massey Hall in 2009. He is a massive influence on so many people. When I met him, I thanked him for his years of incredible music...to which he replied...."music is energy." I am still figuring that one out. Ornette is not from this time. We'll sort him out when we are long gone.

Incidentally, when is the last time you listened to recordings with friends? The few times I've listened to music with dear friends who are equally keen have been formative. Plan a dinner party where you eat, drink and listen. Be sure to invite me. I don’t like olives.

Phew. That’s a lot of music. Hope you dig. What are your choice cuts? And now…back to Jon.