Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Billy Martin: Percussion Ensemble & Drum Solo

A nice find today of Billy Martin directing a percussion ensemble and featured in a solo feature:

This will be my last post of 2015. Time for a wee holiday, me thinks. Thanks again for your support, drive safe and see you all in 2016!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

More Hammer...

Thanks to the kind people over at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, here's a few more lessons with Jeff Hamilton:

- Jeff talks about his mentors and formative influences:

- Hammer discusses the importance of learning the rudiments and how to play them around the drum set:

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

This column is a little bit late today but hey, it's Monday morning "somewhere" in the world (!) so here you go...This will likely be my last "Monday Morning Paradiddle" column of 2015 and I've tried to include a backlog of things that have been collecting on my desktop lately. So here's what's happening around the interweb these days in the wide world of Jazz drumming:

- John Hollenbeck, the most recent addition to the Jazz faculty at McGill University, and his large ensemble is featured at CBC Music:


- Antonio Sanchez talks drums, music and movie soundtracks over at the Drummer's Resource Podcast:


- Matt Wilson is currently on the road with his "Christmas Tree-O" project. Hear what he has to say about his recent happenings:


- A great recent Jazz Times article on the legacy of contemporary Master drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts:


And an older Jazz Times article featuring Max Roach's reflections on the legacy of Tony Williams:


- More on Max Roach via Scott K. Fish's excellent blog:


- Jerry Granelli, the drummer on the original Charlie Brown sessions with pianist/composer Vince Guaraldi, reflects on the iconic "Charlie Brown Christmas" sessions:


- A BBC Radio interview with British Jazz drummer Martin France:


And here's some footage with France demonstrating his drums and cymbals…

- WWOZ's "New Orleans Calling" offers this piece on Johnny Vidacovich:


- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along this great article from Vanity Fair, a piece from drummer Gregg Field about his days playing with Frank Sinatra:

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/12/frank-sinatra-final-concert-gregg-field-drummer- Jeff 

- A great story testifying to the generous spirit of the great "Big" Sid Catlett:


- From Noel Martin Jr., via the Facebook, here's a great piece on developing your left hand, Traditional Grip from the perspective of Tony Williams:

- "The day Elvin Jones fired up Milwaukee's Lakefront Festival of Art in 1972":


- Ralph Peterson Jr. laying it down with his brushes!

Get well soon Ralph!

- Johnathan Blake stretches out with Joe Lovano and Chris Potter from their interpretation of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme":

And here's a great recent interview with Blake from Jazz Times:


- Some up close drumming from Jack DeJohnette from his appearance at the Drum Boogie Festival in Woodstock, New York:

And more DeJohnette with the Jack DeJohnette All-Stars from the Newport Jazz Festival:


-  An interview with contemporary Jazz drumming icon Brian Blade:

- This is brilliant!

- What am I listening to these days?

Barry Harris "Luminescence" - Lenny McBrowne (drums)

Duke Pearson "Sweet Honey Bee" - Mickey Roker (drums)

Bob Sheppard "Close Your Eyes" - Antonio Sanchez (drums)

The Fensters "Vol. X" - Alan Jones (drums)

Kevin Harris "Bird Interpretations" - Francisco Mela (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to Toronto's Mark Kelso:

"The Power of Rhythm" by Mark Kelso

"Rhythm is mystical. Rhythm is spiritual. Rhythm is powerful. It has coexisted with mankind since the dawn of time. There are large rhythmic cycles like the change of the seasons, the orbit of the earth around the sun, the swelling of the sea. Smaller rhythmic cycles like the life of a tree, the life of a person, the sun rising and setting and then smaller cycles again like a baby’s rapid heartbeat or an adults slower heartbeat, the barking of a dog or the clapping of hands. Everything has a rhythm to it and it’s what lets us know we are alive.

As Drummers, we are chosen as vessels to keep rhythm important, to make peoples bodies move, to spread joy, fear, create tension, keep time and most importantly, to make music feel good. The power of rhythm is not to be taken lightly by anyone who ventures down its rhythmic path. If you pick up the sticks, you should know there’s a long journey ahead of you. Rhythm is a living thing and it is embedded deep into our DNA. Everyone’s DNA.The knowledge we have today, as sophisticated as we know it to be, comes from a very old place. From the 5000 year old practice of playing a rattle to a newborn baby, to watching an infant react and instinctively dance when they hear rhythm being played, we can see it’s magic. It’s fascinating to watch when we play a rhythm and it affects a persons physicality. Rhythm can do that! That’s when you can see its power in action. That is when you understand why we play the drums. It’s a gift and we give that gift to everyone who joins in the rhythmic cycle and connects on a deep level to what we do. It is our passion. It is our goal. It is our life."


Thanks again for all your support and I'll be back soon with a few more posts before my annual holiday break. Have a great week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mark Kelso "Making Metronome Practice More Fun"

Thanks to the kind folks over at Drumeo, here's Toronto/Humber College's Mark Kelso with his very informative session entitled "Making Metronome Practice More Fun":

Mark also has his own full-length DVD in the works, "Musician First, Drummer Second", so be on the look out for that as well. Check it out: http://groovydrums.com/musician-first-drummer-second/

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Art Blakey: Caravan

Thanks to Bill Steiger who passed along this inspiring and action packed clip of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wallace Roney: The Great Jazz Drummers

Trumpeter Wallace Roney shares his thoughts about the great Jazz drummers:

Here's the complete series:


And few excerpts via YouTube.com:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Billy Martin Solo Drums

A very musical set of solo drums/percussion offered by Billy Martin:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Just some shameless self-promotion for a few exciting upcoming projects I'm very proud to be a part of:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rakalam Speaks

Some playing, teaching and words of wisdom today from Rakalam Bob Moses:

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Thanks for checking in and thank you to all of those who contributed comments to my previous Stick Control posts this month. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. I have several more fun, interesting and practical little applications of George Lawrence Stone's essential text to come soon.

Here's what's on the go for today's MMP:

- A very nice column on Shelly Manne over at Scott Fish's excellent blog:


Max Roach also offer's some comments on his influences via this article also found on Scott's blog:


- An interview with Carl Allen:


- Allison Miller speaks with WBGO:


- Ari Hoenig interviewed via the Iron Curtain:


- Antonio Sanchez is interviewed over at the ever resourceful Drummer's Resource Podcast:


- The BBC offers their "Desert Island" Buddy Rich picks:


Here's a few more interesting things to check out (well, I think so anyways!):

- Kenny Clarke with Lucky Thompson:

As far as I'm concerned, studying Klook's cymbal beat and comping is a MUST for any aspiring Jazz drummer. You can't go wrong. Now get to work.

- Some rare footage of Britain's Phil Seaman with Al Cohn & Zoot Sims:

- What's better than one super grooving pocket drummer? Well, that would be TWO super grooving pocket drummers playing together! Here's Steve Jordan Jim Keltner laying it down:

- I loved this demonstration of the Ghanaian drum groove Kpanlogo:

- Quincy Davis is still up to great things with his "Q-Tips" over on his YouTube page:

Lots to learn here so check back often.

- Rob Hart offers some fun Tony Williams hi-hat combinations thanks to the nice people over at VicFirth:

- What am I listening to these days?

Hugh Fraser & Jean Toussaint "Back to Back" - Keith Copeland (drums)

Hugh Fraser "In the Mean Time" - Blaine Wikjord (drums)

David Braid "Set in Stone" - Lorne Nehring (drums)

Sonny Rollins "Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders" - Shelly Manne (drums)

Duchess "Duchess" - Matt Wilson (drums)

Terry Gibbs "Dream Band, Vol. 5 " - Mel Lewis (drums)

Kristian Braathen "Tempus Fugit" - Kristian Braathen (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Daniel Glass who has this sage advice to offer via the Facebook:

"I once heard Bruce Springsteen say that music is the only “business” that has no rules; that those who become successful are the ones who create their own set of rules. What Springsteen's statement means to me is that it's paramount for each of us to follow our heart and our inspiration, regardless of the naysayers or those who confidently assure us that it can't be done."

Alright, that's all I've got for today. Thanks for checking in, stay focused and have a great week!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tootie on Brushes

Just a quick, over-the-shoulder, brush demonstration today from Albert "Tootie" Heath:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stick Control Around the Drums: Part Deux

Just a quick variation to my previous post which (hopefully) offered a simple way to develop some interesting patterns around the drum set using Stick Control.

In my previous post the patterns incorporated the snare drum, small tom, floor tom and ride cymbal (with the bass drum). Today I was messing around with this exercise and discovered even more practical variations if I actually LEFT OUT some drums.

Let me explain…

To review, here's my previous exercise (check out my other previous post for a more comprehensive explanation):

1) Play each line of Stick Control as eighth-notes with the hi-hat on beats 2&4 (or on all four quarter notes)

2) Divide each bar into TWO equal parts (ie. beats 1 & 2 and 3 & 4) and use the following orchestrations:

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = small tom

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = floor tom, L = snare drum


Okay, so as you practice the first few pages of Stick Control you should come up with some fun things to play (and as I discovered, some very melodic ideas as well).

To come up with a wealth of other variations, leave one hand on one instrument, essentially leaving OUT one instrument. For example:

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = snare drum

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = floor tom, L = snare drum

* Or the reverse

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = floor tom, L = snare drum

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = snare drum

Try this one, which leaves the snare drum out all together:

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = small tom

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = floor tom, L = small tom

* Or the reverse

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = floor tom, L = small tom

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = small tom

If I wanted to get really "ride cymbal" centric I might try playing all the R's as ride cymbal + bass drum with the L's orchestrated between the other two or three drums accordingly.

Have fun with it and see how many other combinations you can come up with.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Morning Gospel: Jamey Haddad

If you've been following my blog you know that I'm generally a big fan of different combinations of drum + other instrument duets.

Fiddler Casey Driessen has an interesting project on the go, exploring the rhythmic and percussive possibilities of the fiddle. In this clip he teams up with the multi-dimensional drummer/percussionist Jamey Haddad, coming up with some pretty interesting sonic results:

And here's a longer one also featuring the two of them:

This all, of course, led me to several other great clips of Haddad demonstrating his super interesting approach to blending drum set and percussion instruments:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stick Control Around The Drums

I stumbled across this exercise yesterday while I was practicing and trying to think of interesting ways to split up paradiddles around the drum set (I was listening to Ed Blackwell that afternoon and he inspired me to do so…) I came up with a simple exercise that yielded some interesting patterns and decided to expand on it by using George Lawrence Stone's Stick Control as well.

I'll do my best to explain this simple method without the benefit of notated parts. Wish me luck! (although you can also refer to the first page of Stick Control above…)

"Stick Control Around the Drums (with a nod to Alan Dawson!)":

1) Play each line as eighth-notes with the hi-hat on beats 2&4 (or on all four quarter notes)

2) Divide each bar into TWO equal parts (ie. beats 1 & 2 and 3 & 4) and use the following orchestrations:

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = small tom

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = floor tom, L = snare drum

3) Then reverse the order of the orchestration :

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = floor tom, L = snare drum

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = small tom

I also found myself messing around with this version:

Beats 1+ 2+ : R = ride cymbal & bass drum, L = snare drum

Beats 3+ 4+ : R = floor tom, L = small tom

(then try the reverse version as #3)

I came up with many interesting combinations that I hand't really considered before (always a good thing!) and I'm sure you could also come up with some more interesting variations of your own based on this as well.

(just wait until you get to the pages of Stick Control that use triplets!)

I hope this makes sense...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dan Weiss Plays Tristano

I think this kind of creative ingenuity is brilliant and, if more people do this and try this sort of thing, will inevitably serve to expand the creative potential of the drum set as a musical instrument:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Morgan Childs "On The Street of Dreams"

I've really been enjoying Toronto Jazz drummer Morgan Childs' latest offering over the past few months, a hard swinging and very enjoyable quartet outing featuring Childs on drums with several of my favourite Canadian Jazz artists including Kelly Jefferson on tenor saxophone, Dave Restivo on piano and Jon Maharaj on bass.

Morgan was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest project and his music:
1) How did this recording project come about?

It actually started as a touring project more than a recording project. I had survived a “down” winter in 2011 with less gigs than I would have liked in the months of January and February, and when it looked like 2012 was going to be the same, I resolved to work hard to have something to do the next year. I started working on a tour for a band with personnel to be decided as it came together, and got some nice gigs on the calendar for 2013… gigs at the Yukon Arts Centre, Cellar Jazz Club, Hermann’s, Vernon Jazz Club, Columbia Valley Arts Council, Fernie Arts Station, Yardbird Suite etc… it grew and grew and I was lucky enough to get a Canada Council touring grant. I decided to record the gigs at the Cellar and Yardbird, because those were rooms I had recorded in before and always felt really comfortable playing in. It took awhile for me to decide whether or not I was going to release it—I tend to agonize over the quality of my own playing, which slows the process down. 

2) What's the overall concept for this album?

Since the album was recorded on live dates and nobody knew that it was going to become a record, there’s a sort of freedom to how we’re playing and a looseness… maybe a lack of pressure, the kind of pressure you put on yourself in a recording studio to get the “perfect” take. I like that. I like that the guys stretched out and expressed themselves. When I put the tracks in order for the disc, I thought about what I personally really enjoy as a listener, and tried to put everything in the order to represent what you might hear if you came to hear one really good set at one of these clubs. It comes in a little longer than a lot of records, but if you think about what you might hear in one set at a really great club with great acoustics like the Cellar or Yardbird, I think it is representational of that sound. I suppose the overall concept is intimacy; the sounds on the record are exactly how everything was played in the moment. There isn’t a single edit on the record. 

3) Why/how did you choose the musicians you played with? What unique qualities do they bring to your music?

When I moved to Toronto in 2009, I had kind of a mental list of people I hadn’t played much with but had always really admired and wanted to play with, and Kelly, Jon and David were all high up on that list! I started out playing saxophone trio gigs at the Rex with Kelly and Jon in the winter of 2010, which I loved, but some of the music I was hearing in my head I thought would sound really great with a pianist. Later that year, I toured with the great saxophonist Richard Underhill with a really nice quintet with David on piano and I really felt like we had instant rapport that developed really naturally. Kelly, David and Jon are all superb listeners. It’s really gratifying to play with people who truly listen to what everybody is doing, and make their next musical choice based on that empathetic approach. Of course they are all virtuosos on their individual instruments, but that is less important to me than that sense of musical unity and empathy. I value compelling musical statements above all else, and all these guys are so committed to getting the most out of everything they play. 

4) You begin the album with a beautiful ballad (this is rare....and takes serious guts!) What can you say about this choice and the other standards you chose to record?

Thanks for noticing! I’ve gotten a few compliments on my choice of opener, the title track being the Victor Young tune “On The Street of Dreams”. I like to think of ways to be unconventional… to maybe go against the grain of what would be de rigueur for compiling a set or album order. Many jazz albums (including many of my favourite jazz albums, I should mention) start with a track that functions as an “I can play” statement. I wanted something subtle to draw people into a mood. 

I think about how I can create a sense of flow and balance within a set, not just from tune to tune. Did I play brushes in time on the last ballad? Maybe on this one I will play mallets and play out of time, for example. Did the drums trade 8s in the last tune we played? Maybe this tune, the saxophone and piano can trade with each other instead, or solo at the same time and have that be a mood for a part of the set. Maybe the pianist could play something unaccompanied. Maybe I could play a solo with my bare hands, or play tambourine (actually that’s probably not a good idea!). These are not particularly original ideas (and one has to be careful not to become gimmicky), but every set can be a different, original musical statement because of how you choose to control the texture and pacing of a set of music. Those are important decisions as a leader. Some personal abstraction tends to translate to the listener as being intriguing, which I think is a desirable goal. 

5) Half of the tunes represented on this recording are your own original compositions. Can you speak to your influences and a process as a composer?

 I usually sing little ideas into my voice memo app on my iPhone, and then when I have the chance to write and flesh them out, I think a lot about what kind of song it might become and who is going to play it (or who I would like to play it). I think about how Ellington wrote for the individual voices of a Bubber Miley or Cat Anderson or Ray Nance or Johnny Hodges. I try to find interesting inner voices or basslines to accompany core ideas that I hope are strong melodically. I try to have each piece create a specific effect for me as a listener, and once I’ve achieved that by including some details, I hope that the people I’ve chosen to play it bring it to life with their individual voices and input… that’s very important to me. With everything I write, I try to make the melody the most important thing. The idea of harmony is, for me, something that is there to add nuance and colour to the melodic line. 

6) Any future plans/recordings for this group? 

It’s been awhile since I released a record so I am taking it slow and just trying to get people to hear it and enjoy it and hopefully I will be able to tour these guys again one day. I would like to take them overseas somewhere maybe. I have never played on any other continent, so that remains a goal of mine. 

7) What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I am on a new record by Amanda Tosoff called “Words” which is an extraordinary album I’m really excited for people to hear. I have a tour with the Griffith/Hiltz trio in November (Nathan Hiltz: Guitar, synthesizers, bass pedals, Johnny Griffith: Saxophones, bass clarinet, synthesizers), subbing for my good friend Sly Juhas. There is the organ group with Bernie Senensky, Nathan Hiltz and Ryan Oliver that plays every week. I did an August tour with saxophonist David French, Hiltz and bassist Jon Meyer that yielded a crop of new material (no originals, but many cool tunes), we’ll see if that band gets some more work at some point, I’d sure like to play with those guys again. I’m going into the studio with the great guitarist Lee Wallace to record some new material next week. Finally, I have immensely enjoyed the addition to the Toronto scene of organist/pianist Jeff McLeod and guitarist Ben Bishop and I think we will be planning to do more playing together in various contexts in the near future. 

8) Can you speak to your influences as a drummer these days? What kinds of things are you practicing?

I have just started writing out all the possible permutations of all the numbered rolls in the context of snare/bass drum combinations (assigning L to your left hand and R to your bass drum, for example) against the ride cymbal. When I say “all possible” permutations, I mean in every metric context that I could think would be useful, mainly ¼, 1/4note triplets, 8th notes (for the 3-beat rudiments, phrased over the barline until you reach 1 again in bar 4), 16th notes (again, for the 3 beat rudiments, phrasing them across the barline). The idea is that it starts very simple and gets more and more complex, with the feel of each phrase being a unique permutation against the ride cymbal beat. I continue to work on solos from the Wilcoxin book “Modern Rudimental Swing Solos”, and some of the Kenny Clarke book (I think I sent you that stuff?... the Renversements and triple paradiddle pages). My biggest influence lately has been early New Orleans funk music… Lee Dorsey, James Black, Neville Brothers, The Meters etc. 


To learn more about Morgan's music check out his website www.morganchildsmusic.com and buy his album at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/MorganChilds.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shirley Scott with Art Taylor

Some seriously groovy and swinging music today featuring the great Art Taylor on drums with Shirley Scott on B3 Hammond Organ and Harold Vick on tenor saxophone:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kenny Plays Yaiba

I'm posting a little late this week but since I was out of town, better late than never I suppose.

Anyways, here's an entertaining one of the "Jazz Maniac" himself, Kenny Washington, demonstrating his new Canopus Yaiba drums ("Don't walk, RUN!!!" he says...):

(Thanks to Zion Afuang who passed along this gem via the Facebook.)

And just for kick's here's another clip of KW in action with the Bill Charlap trio from a recent hit in Paris at the Duc du Lombards:


And here's Kenny playing another, different set of Canopus Neo-Vintage drums:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ben Wendel & Jeff Ballard: The Seasons

More excellent saxophone and drum duet action today from Ben Wendel, this time featuring Jeff Ballard in Wendel's excellent on-going series The Seasons:

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Alrighty, the week is off to a running start and here's the latest from our hard working Four on the Floor correspondents:

- Scott K. Fish is up to great things over at his blog "Life Beyond Cymbals". Here is an in-depth interview with the great Roy McCurdy:



- Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle continues to contribute wonderful interviews over at his blog "Mostly Music." Here he interviews bassist Gene Perla and offers some insight into the many great drummers he's played with:


- Antonio Sanchez' "Before and After" interview over at Jazz Times:


- Carl Allen is interviewed over at Drummertalk.org:


Carl also offers a few pieces of wisdom via his YouTube.com channel:

- Vancouver's Cory Weeds was smart and recorded these audio interviews with the one and only Louis Hayes during some recent dates on Canada's West Coast:


- Jake Feinberg interviews Roy Haynes:


 - Johnathan Blake interviewed over at NextBop.com:


- NPR recently featured a concert hosted by Ali Jackson Jr., celebrating the music of Max Roach at Jazz @ Lincoln Center. The program is narrated by bassist Christian McBride and a great episode to check out:


I really wish the CBC would explore and invest in more programming initiatives like this...

It's important.

- Oh yes and here's the concert footage!

- Thanks to Billy Drummond, here's a great, older piece entitled "A Tribute to Max Roach" from All About Jazz:


- Another interview with Roy Haynes, this time by Portland's Alan Jones:

- Jeff Hamilton offers a very important lesson on the how's and why's of keeping loose while playing the drums:

I wish someone had told me this 20 years ago...

- I posted earlier blog posts on both Ralph Peterson Jr. and, separately, the importance of playing along with recordings. Here's an example of Peterson playing along with a Christian McBride drum-less bass,trumpet and guitartrio on Herbie Hancock's "Eye of the Hurricane":

- Jerry Leake offers a great lesson on a 12/8 Bell pattern and various corresponding cross rhythms:

- Martin France demonstrates some up-tempo brush playing:

- I recently heard Chicago's Dana Hall here in Calgary with the Spin Quartet. Hall is a great musician and force to be reckoned with. Overall the group was excellent and their playing and concept quite inspiring. Something to really aspire to.

Here's a good example of Dana Hall in action where he clearly exhibits his uncompromising style of Jazz drumming:

- And finally here's a drummer I greatly admire, the one and only Dr. Marvin Bugalu Smith:

- What am I listening to these days?

David Friesen Trio "The Name of a Woman" - Alan Jones (drums)

Walt Weiskopf "Day In, Night Out" - Kendrick Scott (drums)

David Friesen Trio "Midnight Mood" - Alan Jones (drums)

Tara Davidson "Duets"

David Friesen Trio "1-2-3" - Alan Jones (drums)

Pedro Martinez "Rumbas de la Rumba" - Pedro Martinez (percussion)

Harold Land "The Fox" - Frank Butler (drums)

- And finally, here's today's Last Word:

Alright, that's all I've got for today. Thanks again for tuning in and see you all again real soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Conversations with Joe Lovano

"When the Masters Speak, We Listen..."

Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of my favourite musicians. I first heard him around 1995 while he was touring Western Canada and performing the music from his double album "Quartets" which featured two amazing bands and two amazing drummers: Lewis Nash and Billy Hart. I've been a fan of Lovano's music and many projects ever since.

I had the opportunity to work briefly with Lovano at the short lived Lake Placid Jazz Workshop (Lake Placid, New York) during the summer of 1998. I was really taken aback by not only his understanding of rhythm but the man REALLY knows drums, drumming and drummers! I was really impressed with his own drumming too which we would frequently witness during the evening jam sessions.

Another couple recent favourites of mine are Lovano's "Trio Fascination, Vol.1"with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones (this a great example of Elvin's playing, in the latter part of his career...great tunes too) and "Sound Prints" with Joey Baron on drums. Lovano always plays with great drummers.

Apparently Joe also owns an impressive collection of gongs and, from what I've heard, one of Paul Motian's old drum sets. Without a doubt, the man knows how to play them too!

Anyways, from New York University's "Conversations with..." series, here's Joe Lovano talking about Life & Music:

And if you wanted some proof as to what a monster and heavy swinger Lovano is behind a set of drums, look no further...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Steve Maxwell on Tuning

Steve Maxwell, a man who knows a thing or two about drums, offers some insights and his ideas about drum tuning:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ralph Peterson Jr. Solo

From the 2015 Meinl Drum Festival, here's Ralph Peterson Jr. in a nice little solo spot:

I really appreciate the fact that he uses such an assortment of drums and cymbals, and a larger overall set-up than most Jazz drummers, in such a musical way.

And here's another series of Q&A interviews with Peterson, answering a few questions about his gear, music and style:


BTW - if you've haven't checked out his excellent DVD from JazzHeaven.com, then you really should!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Jeff Hamilton on Brushes

Another great lesson thanks to the kind folks over at the Jazz @ Lincoln Center's Jazz Academy. Here's the Master brush player Jeff Hamilton himself talking and demonstrating some very important, basic brush concepts:

This idea of playing the brushes laterally or "side-to-side" as opposed to strictly an up-and-down motion was one introduced to me (via Jeff incidentally!) about ten years ago or so from an article he wrote for the PAS publication Percussive Notes (see "You've Got to Be Pretty to Play the Brushes" in Percussive Notes, February 2004). This really opened up my own brush playing and changed things in a positive way. I don't always play way this but it certainly adds another dimension to one's brush playing and it really helped me. Check it out.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ed Soph - Ride Cymbal Playing

Here's a series of six lessons with UNT drum professor Ed Soph, brought to us by the fine people over at Zildjian, all featuring topics on ride cymbal playing:

There are some important lessons and concepts in here to check out for sure.

All six video lessons are embedded in the link above. If you scroll down you'll find a wealth of other great lessons from the Zildjian Drumset Education vault offered by some other artists as well. Enjoy! (and learn something too in the process...)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jack, Ravi and Matt

From a 2014 performance in Lausanne, Switzerland here's the unrecorded (I think?) trio of Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison in a full-length concert:

Here's hoping to a future ECM recording of this trio!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

And...We're Back.

Thanks for your patience as I took a good portion of this summer off from blogging. Sorry for the hiatus! Well, now we're back in the saddle and have plenty to share with you all in the weeks and months ahead. Our correspondents here at Four on the Floor are well rested and ready to get back to work. The break was nice and we have plenty of things to talk about.

So to get started, here's a few articles and links to check out from around the interweb:

- Christian McBride offers "All About That Bass, But Give The Drummer Some" over at NPR:


Now wouldn't it be nice if the CBC also produced innovative segments such as this?

- Jeff Hamilton swing, swing, swings on this solo drum version of "Sing, Sing, Sing":


- An interview with Milford Graves from Clocktower.org:

- Behind the scenes with tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel and his duet partner Eric Harland from his series "The Seasons":

- An article on unsung hero Winard Harper from Downbeat magazine:

- Leo Sidran interivews Bill Stewart on his podcast The Third Story:

- An older radio interview with Portland's Alan Jones from KMHD:

- Here's a preview of Kendrick Scott's new release on Blue Note records, "We Are The Drum":

A few Canadian Jazz drummers to take note of...

- Anthony Michelli offers some wisdom over at The K Spot:

- Morgan Childs talks about his new release (more on this soon!) and other great things over at Nathan Hiltz's recent podcast series "The Body Electric":

- Curtis Nowosad also talks about his new release "Dialectics" over at Neon Jazz:

Alright, now onto a few video clips I've been enjoying this summer and so should you:

- Lewis Nash on "Second Balcony Jump":

- A brief feature on Rodney Green:

- Kenny Washington swinging in Paris at the Duc Des Lombards with Bill Charlap and Peter Washington:

- Willie Jones III in some grainy black and white footage from a recent hit of his at New York's Smoke:

- Greg Hutchinson jams with Dave Douglas and Reuben Rogers:

- Okay keep your eyes and ears on this young lad in the years to come:

Yikes! Has Tony returned? Needless to say, I'm very impressed...

- What am I listening to these days?

Alan Jones "Spirits" - Alan Jones (drums)

Wynton Marsalis "Black Codes (From the Underground)" - Jeff Tain Watts (drums)

Francois Theberge "The Medium Band" - Alan Jones (drums)

Morgan Childs Quartet "On The Street of Dreams" - Morgan Childs (drums)

Alan Jones Sextet "Storyline" - Alan Jones (drums)

Pedro Martinez "Rumbos de la Rumba" - Pedro Martinez (congas)

Curtis Nowosad "Dialectics" - Curtis Nowosad (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to the great Jabali Billy Hart (who I recently heard in Banff, AB earlier this summer):

"Love is the highest form of intelligence in the Universe." - Billy Hart

Alright, that's all for today. Thanks again for sticking around and see you all again real soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The "Thursday" Morning Paradiddle

I meant to drop this post on Monday morning like I usually do but I've been on and off the road for the better part of two months now and unfortunately my blogging has consequently not been quite as consistent as I like it to be. Anyways, here it is and better late than never I guess! But actually, now that I'm home and almost caught up, I think I'll take a little break from all of this for the next few weeks to recharge my batteries. In the meantime, check this stuff out and we'll see you in a bit...

- An interview with the ever articulate Peter Erskine:


- Jason Marsalis is interviewed at Music Inside Out and also shares some insights into several other important Jazz drummers as well:


- An interview and feature with the ever swinging European Jazz drummer Eric Ineke entitled "I Want the Swing to be Alive":


- Here's a few worthwhile and relevant discussions from the Modern Drummer education team archives:

On Learning Jazz:


Traditional Grip?


On Learning Other Instruments:


- Clayton Cameron discusses "What are the Mathematics of Jazz?" over at NPR:


- Australia's Simon Barker is a very unique, creative drummer that I've only recently been introduced to but I really dig his style:

Also check out his work for solo drum set here:


- The ever resourceful Drummer's Resource Podcast features a very informative interview with John Riley:


- What differentiates human drummers from machines? Fractals. Apparently. (And machines also work for scale haha):


- I recently ran into Montreal's ever swinging Dave Laing during my time at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. Check out this fantastic clip of him playing along with a Joe Henderson and Christian McBride track:

- Benny Green has recently been touring with an Art Blakey tribute project. Here's a clip of the band with Carl Allen taking on the role of Buhaina:

And here's a link to a complete concert featuring this band:


- I've really been fascinated by Max Roach's percussion ensemble M'Boom lately. Here's a concert from 1973 to check out:

- What am I listening to these days?

Curtis Nowosad "Dialectics" - Curtis Nowosad (drums)

Jan Jarczyk "Full Circle" - Jim Doxas (drums)

Jimmy Heath "The Thumper" - Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

Kirk MacDonald "The Atlantic Sessions" - Jerry Fuller (drums)

Phil Dwyer "Let Me Tell You About My Day" - Alan Jones (drums)

Keith Copeland "The Irish Connection" - Keith Copeland (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Maya Angelou:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Alright, that's all I've got for now. Thanks again for checking in and we'll see each other in a bit. In the meantime, have a great summer!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Eric Harland with Ben Wendel

A brief post today as I am currently on the road in Saskatchewan and about to spend the next 10 ten days teaching at the Prairielands Jazz Camp, an annual summer Jazz workshop held at the University of Regina.

Last weekend I found myself in Saskatoon performing with a variety of groups at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. As I also heard several great groups during my stay including the band Kneebody
(with the great Nate Wood on drums). Trumpeter Patrick Boyle has been raving about these guys for years so I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to hear them play.

I was really impressed with this group and, in particular, tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel. I really dug his original concept, huge sound and the energy he brought to the music.

Ben has a series of duet videos up on youtube.com entitled "The Seasons". Check out this episode featuring a duet with drummer Eric Harland:

Monday, June 29, 2015


And now a few words about Billy Higgins...

Here's a few more pieces to check out....

- Nasheet Waits offers his favourites recordings of Billy Higgins:


- A drummer's roundtable discussion on the legacy of his drumming:


- And two more interviews and some words of wisdom with the man himself:



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lewis Nash with Renee Rosnes

Today we bring you a complete concert featuring the stellar quartet of pianist Renee Rosnes with Steve Nelson on vibes, Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums:

I recently heard this very same band in Toronto at the Jazz Bistro during the Toronto Jazz Festival. They are currently touring the Canadian Jazz festival circuit. I believe they will also be recording together this summer (lucky for us!)

The music I heard was outstanding and they exhibited a certain group sympatico that only comes from playing together for a very long time (in my estimation likely around 30 years given the different circumstances they have collectively played in...) I really identify with the style and sound of Jazz music in which these four music exhibit both individually and collectively.

I actually had the best seat in the house (!) and found myself directly behind Nash's drums (nice to see that the Jazz Bistro in Toronto has inadvertently continued the tradition of the "drummer's row", a strategically placed group of seats, not unlike those at the Village Vanguard, where you can enjoy an intimate and unobstructed view of the drummer...)

Nash's drumming was, of course, exceptional. I've seen him play many times but this time I was really drawn to his clear and constant orchestrations of not only the melody, arrangement and form but also the soloist in question. His ears and priorities are always tuned to the music and it all adds up to a very satisfying musical and hard swinging result. Quite a lesson indeed!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dave Laing "Joy Spring"

Another post today featuring the amazing Dave Laing, my former drum teacher at McGill University (Montreal, QC).

Here's Dave demonstrating how to orchestrate melodic ideas around the drum set, in this case Clifford Brown's transcribed trumpet solo from the Max Roach/Clifford Brown hit tune "Joy Spring":

This is very impressive and a stark reminder of how much vocabulary and creative information we can gain from studying solos of jazz musicians of ANY instrument, not just the drums.

In fact, when I interviewed Dan Weiss for my doctoral research he spoke at length about how this particular concept has influenced and informed his own "melodic" approach to the drum set.

Boston's Bob Gullotti also spoke to me extensively about how he teaches students how to learn melodic drum solo vocabulary by means of studying Charlie Parker's solos and phrases found within the pages of the Charlie Parker Omnibook. I've been investigating these ideas myself and find it a fascinating study.

Well, back to the drawing board/woodshed...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Conversations with "The Birdman"

An insightful interview and "conversation" today with the world's "Birdman" of the drums, Antonio Sanchez:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dave Laing!

I've posted a few of these clips from him before but, there's more! Here's Montreal's Dave Laing demonstrating many of his talents (actually in addition to being a great player he's also a GREAT teacher!) In particular dig his use of the hi-hat/bass drum ostinato underneath the Delecluse snare etude in the last clip:

Dave was my teacher at McGill during the late 90s and he continues to inspire with his great playing, hard swinging drive and creative spirit.

Keep 'em coming Dave!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ali Jackson Jr. on Rhythm

Jazz @ Lincoln Center's Ali Jackson Jr. demonstrates a few important rhythms we should all consider:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ralph Peterson Jr. Webcast

Courtesy of the nice people over at mycymbal.com here's a complete masterclass with Ralph Peterson Jr. demonstrating his Meinl cymbals:

There is a lot of great information here and Peterson is a very articulate teacher (in addition to being an iconic player of our time).

I also highly recommend checking out his DVD "Jazz Drumming Demystified" available through Jazzheaven.com (click on the link to the side of my blog).

Incidentally, I've been getting a lot of mileage lately out of this brush pattern found his DVD, a pattern with multiple applications Peterson likes to call the "Infinity Pattern":

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Three Brush Players

These guys are having way too much fun...

Now who said that playing the brushes was a lost/dying art form?
Certainly not while these guys are around!

Thanks to Calgary's Kevin Willms who passed along this one.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

And...we're back.

Sorry for the radio silence lately. This spring has been quite busy and I've been on the go, first playing for a very time consuming and soul satisfying modern dance production with a very talented and creative group of people, Calgary's Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production of "Ziriguidum". Then my wife and I recently took off to Paris for a couple weeks for a break. Now I'm home and back in the saddle. Blogging over here will resume accordingly. Thanks for sticking around!

This was my first trip Paris and surprisingly I was fortunate to hear many great Jazz drummers during my travels in addition to all the many things one does when they visit Paris (like eat lots of cheese...)

First we headed over to the Duc de Lombards, one of Paris' premier Jazz spots, and heard Kendrick Scott with virtuoso harmonicist (harmonicacist?) Gregoire Maret featuring Jon Cowherd on piano and a wonderful Polish bass player whose name escapes me. Scott's drumming was exceptional and he has really developed a very musical and unique voice on the drums (that I'm quite fond of actually). In particular his ride cymbal variations and techniques were a real lesson in themselves that offered me more than a few things to ponder and think about while waiting in line at the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in the days to come. I first heard Scott with Terence Blanchard about ten years ago and he continues to be one of my favorite "up-and-coming" drummers of our generation.

We stayed in a nice little hotel in the St. Germain district and happened to be there during the St. Germain Festival de Jazz. How convenient ! We were fortunate to catch a performance of pianist Vijay Iyer and his trio featuring Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. I've heard Iyer a few times in Calgary and Banff now but this was the first time I've heard Gilmore play. Being the drumming grandson of Roy Haynes certainly sets up some expectations (for some anyways...) but I was actually very impressed with both his musicality and mature approach to the music. Some solo features he took demonstrated a real influence of Jack DeJohnette, especially in the way he would integrate and lead phrases with the bass drum. The trio was a very cohesive unit I look forward to hearing more of Gilmore in the years to come.

Finally, I was able to catch up with my dear old friend Karl Jannuska who we heard play with a singer/song writer and his trio on a boat, a sort of floating Jazz club on the Seine river. I first met Karl in 1995 when I moved to Montreal to study at McGill University. He's one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet and it's no wonder that in the last 15 years he has quickly become one of the busiest Jazz drummers in Paris. Originally from Brandon, Manitoba Karl was always a popular drummer around McGill and a shining example how to make music of the highest level on the drum set. I haven't Karl play in a number of years but was quickly reminded of his great sound, brilliant phrasing and creative approach to the drum set. Karl is all about the music and I'm really happy to see him continue to do so well for himself. He has recorded a number of albums featuring his own original music that are definitely worth checking out. Karl tells me that he has another one in the works so keep your ears peeled for that one.

I wasn't expecting to hear any Jazz (or music for that matter) during our travels so the opportunity to hear these three incredible drummers was definitely a bonus.

Anyways, in other news, here's a mess of other things to check out thanks to our ever vigilant Four on the Floor foreign correspondents:

- Here's a great article on Jo Jones from Jazz Lives:


- Thanks to Calgary's John Reid who passed along this lengthy article on really OLD vintage drum sets:


After reading this I'm wondering if now is the time to bring back the practice of painting lush mountain and lake scenes on the front of our bass drum heads.

- Via Adam Nussbaum, here's an item on Albert Tootie Heath from NPR:


- I'm always excited to find new interviews with the greats to listen and learn from. Ben Sidran speaks with a number of Jazz legends on his radio series, NPR's "Talking Jazz":


In particular, check out his interviews with the likes of Max Roach, Paul Motian, Art Blakey and Tony Williams.

- Speaking of interviews, here's an extensive conversation between Ethan Iverson and bassist Ron Carter over at Iverson's blog Do The Math worth checking out:


- Todd Bishop has been very busy over at his fine blog Cruiseship Drummer. He's been blogging his tail off recently to promote his fundraising campaign. There's always lots of great things to check out on his blog. A few pieces of his that I've really enjoyed lately:

Barry Altschul on playing melodically:


(I could have used this one while finishing my doctoral dissertation last fall...oh well!)

A nice great Billy Higgins transcription from an interpretation of Othar Turner's Shimmy Shewobble:


And here's a some food-for-thought with regards to different ways to play the ride cymbal:


This column was inspired by a piece from George Colligan's blog Jazz Truth and is also a good read:


Some great info here, especially the pedagogical statement on the importance of developing a good cymbal beat. I think Bill Stewart's paraphrased quote really nails it:

"You might know all the rudiments but if you don't get the ride cymbal together, nobody is going to call you!"

Jazz "truth" indeed.

- Another great post from Jazz Advice, with some ideas on improving your Time and sense of Rhythm:


- Here's an interview with the ever articulate Peter Erskine and his new Tama drums:

- Dig the ever funky/swinging Mike Clark demonstrating his DW drums:

- And finally, here's an audio interview with drummer/percussionist Don Alias from the folks over at LP Percussion:

- What am I listening to these days?

Curtis Nowosad "Dialectics" - Curtis Nowosad (drums)

Elvin Jones Trio "The Ultimate" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Jimmy Heath "Really Big!" - Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

Harold Land "The Fox" - Frank Butler (drums)

Michel Lambert "Journal Des Episodes I & II" - Michel Lambert (drums)

Kevin Dean "Weather Permitting" - Dave Laing (drums)

Paul Chambers "Whims of Chambers" - Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Phineas Newborn Jr. "We Three" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Tara Davidson "Duets"

- Today's Last Word comes from the great, late Clark Terry. I recently watched the documentary "Keep On Keepin' On" during my flight to Europe and found great inspiration in his life, music and wisdom (which he was all too willing to share with any who would listen).

"You can't do it the easy way. You have to do it the right way!" - Clark Terry

Thanks again for visiting and see you all again real soon !