Friday, February 28, 2014


The folks over at Zildjian have recently produced a new line of cymbals, something akin to their K Constantinoples, but different. I'm eagerly looking forward to checking these out. Here's a trio to reckon with: Ulysses Owens Jr., Kendrick Scott and Eric Harland all demonstrating these new instruments:

Hey Saskatoon, Saskatchewan!

I'm hitting the road this weekend and playing at the Bassment (one of Canada's finest jazz establishments) on Saturday evening with Canadian pianist David Braid and his unique brass octet project. We played together last spring in Edmonton at the Yardbird Suite and this is truly some very unique and creative music. David is a brilliant composer, pianist and improviser and I'm really looking forward to playing his challenging music again.

Fortunately it's only a balmy - 64 degrees there with the wind chill (yes, I am being serious...) I guess I will have to bundle up!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Greg Hutchinson on Brushes

Some incredible brush playing today from Gregory Hutchinson, featured on "Salt Peanuts":

And here's a little up-close footage as well (with sticks!)


(sorry...it doesn't want to embed but it's worth checking out!)

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Hey folks we're now on Twitter! Find regular blog updates at:


Friday, February 21, 2014

Stick Control Linear Exercise - Part One

Wow! Now here's something a bit different for a change...a drum lesson! It's been awhile since I've posted one of these but since I've received some nice comments with regards to my previous lessons (it's been month, years!!!) I thought I would try and keep this up.

Here's a little variation on a Stick Control exercise I took from Steve Smith's excellent DVD "The Art of Playing Brushes" (with Adam Nussbaum). I believe that Steve originally got this one from his time studying with Alan Dawson in Boston. I've found this a great way to engage all my limbs at the same time and develop an overall sense of coordinated balance on the drum set.

Take the first few pages of Stick Control (such as the column above). Using a steady rhythm of eighth-notes as your rhythmic template, use these following variations as your guide to create some interesting linear ideas:

1) Exercise #1

- When you play R with your Right Hand, follow it with a bass drum.

- When you play L with your Left Hand, follow it with a hi-hat (open or closed, your choice)

So a paradiddle sticking RLRR LRLL would look like this:

R B L H R B R B      L H R B L H L H

R = Right Hand

L = Left Hand

B = Bass Drum

H = Hi-Hat

2) Exercise #2 (variation)

- When you play R with your Right Hand, follow it with a hi-hat (open or closed, your choice)

- When you play L with your Left Hand, follow it with the bass drum

So the following RLRR LRLL combination would look like this:

R H L B R H R H      L B R H L B L B

You'll find that you come up with some pretty interesting and challenging four-limb linear patterns as the sticking variations develop. I've also been messing around with a fun variation that involves triplets that I'll share with you in a future post.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We just wrapped up a long weekend here in Alberta so here's an inspiring drum solo from Lewis Nash to get the week ahead started off right:

Notice the overall different textures that Nash gets from the drum set and, specifically, the percussive and "orchestrated" nature of his ideas. Very musical and very creative. The entire solo has a great shape and I admire how he is able to connect his ideas on a larger scope.

If someone can please show me how to play my bass drum as fast as he does, by all means please let me know! I really dig that sound of the bass drum "fluttering" underneath while improvising up top. It's a very effective concept....I just don't know how to do it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Lesson in Rhythm with CK Ladzekpo

Thanks to Todd Bishop over at Cruiseship Drummer who hipped me to this incredible footage of Ghanaian drummer CK Ladzekpo giving a masterclass on rhythm:

Todd has also published a great companion worksheet of some related rhythmic exercises:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Johnathan Blake Quartet

My friend Johnathan Blake has a great new project in the works featuring Ben Street on bass with Chris Potter and Mark Turner on saxophones. I'm really looking forward to hearing this new album.

Here's this stellar quartet in action from a recent hit at the Jazz Gallery:

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Alright folks, it's Monday. Let's get this week off to a running start. It's really freezing cold up here in Calgary....so perhaps some of the pieces below will inspire us to make great things happen!

-Thanks to Todd Bishop who brought to my attention via his own excellent blog Cruiseship Drummer that West Coast drummer Dick Berk recently passed away:


Here's a great interview with Berk where, among other things, he talks about working with Billie Holiday when he was a mere 17 years old:


I've been a big fan of this underrated drummer, especially his playing on the Ray Brown/Milt Jackson recording "That's The Way It Is" (thank you to Jesse Cahill for hipping me to this one):

Dick Berk was an important part of the West Coast scene and acted as a mentor to many young musicians over the years (including the likes of bassist John Patitucci and trombonist Andy Martin).

- Bassist and educator Chuck Israels published an interesting article about his "unpopular" perspective on Jazz education that is worth reading:


- Here's a New York Times article in which recently several Jazz drummers who are releasing new albums are featured:


- Peter Hum over at the Ottawa Citizen also has a couple nice reviews of music from Matt Wilson and Jeff Ballard:



- Looking for some motivation? Thanks to Steve Smith for passing along these masterclasses from Zakir Hussain and Carnegie Hall:


- Tunes. If you are serious about being a Jazz drummer you've got to learn some tunes. It's all about the tunes. Here's a concise list of some important tunes to learn (no matter what instrument you play!) if you want to learn the Jazz language from pianist George Colligan over at his fine blog Jazz Truth www.jazztruth.blogspot.com

George Colligan's Top 20 Tunes to Learn:

1.Stella By Starlight
2.All The Things You Are
3.Autumn Leaves
4.What Is This Thing Called Love
5.There Will Never Be Another You
6.Tune Up
8.Beautiful Love
9.Alone Together
10.Body and Soul
12.Someday My Prince Will Come
14.Bye Bye Blackbird
15.On Green Dolphin Street
16.There Is No Greater Love
17.I Love You
18.How High The Moon
19.Just Friends

Being an aspiring vibraphonist myself, I find this list incredibly useful.

- Looks like Zildjian has another line of incredible cymbals coming our way. Here's Kendrick Scott demonstrating the new K Kerope cymbal line:

- Montreal film maker Randy Cole has been producing some very fine short films about several Montreal Jazz artists over the past few years. Cole's latest production features the drumming and music of Jim Doxas, a drummer who I had the pleasure of going to school with at McGill University in Montreal during the late 1990s:

- Another great Montreal drummer whom I also had the pleasure of going to school with is Rich Irwin. Check out Rich's fine drumming on these new, compact Sonor drums:

- Thanks to Kenan Foley who passed along this nice piece about Pittsburgh's Roger Humphries:

- What am I listening to these days?

Mike Downes "In the Current" - Mark Kelso (drums), Michael Davidson (vibes/marimba)

Joey Baron/Bill Frisell Duo "Just Listen" - Joey Baron (drums)

Dave Holland Octet "Pathways" - Nate Smith (drums), Steve Nelson (vibes)

Brian Blade "Mama Rosa" - Brian Blade (drums)

Paul Chambers "Paul Chambers Quintet" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Kirk MacDonald "Symmetry" - Dennis Mackrel (drums)

- Okay, now it's time for some music! Here's some amazing trio footage featuring New Orleans Master drummer Johnny Vidacovich with Jeff Coffin on saxophones and Felix Pastorious (Yes, Jaco's son!) on bass playing an adventurous version of "When Will The Blues Leave?":

- To finish off today's column I'd like to leave you with a great article courtesy of the fine folks over at jazzadvice.com on the role of motivation:


In particular I really dig this quote, from Wynton Marsalis:

“The thing in jazz that will get Bix Beiderbecke out of his bed at two o’clock in the morning, pick that cornet up and practice into the pillow for another two or three hours, or that would make Louis Armstrong travel around the world for fifty plus years non stop, just get up out of his sick bed, crawl up on the bandstand and play, the thing that would make Duke Ellington, the thing that would make Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Mary Lou Williams, the thing that would make all of these people give their lives for this, and they did give their lives… And when you get a taste of that, there’s just nothing else you’re going to taste that’s as sweet." - Wynton Marsalis (via jazzadvice.com)

Onwards and upwards!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Antonio Sanchez at Berklee

Antonio Sanchez has recently been acting as the Armand Zildjian Artist in Residence at the Berklee College of Music. Check out his very informative masterclass:

Jeff "Tain" Watts once described Sanchez as being the "Latin Tony Williams" and given the scope of his technique and contemporary approach, it's no wonder why!

And thanks to the kind people over at LP, here is an excellent demonstration by Sanchez on how to incorporate left foot clave patterns into one's conceptual approach:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mike Clark on Tony Williams

Mike Clark generously shares some serious wisdom about Tony Williams and what it was like growing up as a jazz drummer during the 1960s, an incredible time for jazz drumming. It's always great to learn these things from someone who lived it!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Playdate with Matt Wilson

My friend Matt Wilson debuts his new jazz radio show Playdate on WBGO tomorrow (February 4th). Matt is a very engaging, entertaining and informative speaker so I expect to be a regular listener of his new program.

Check out Matt and Kris Knuffke recording the theme song and chasers for this upcoming radio show:

For more information visit the WBGO website: http://www.wbgo.org/playdate