Friday, December 30, 2016

Ludwig Drum Co. Contest Solos

This is our last blog post of 2016 and we'd like to leave you all with a few things to practice over your holiday break. So dust off your drum pad and get to work! (perhaps this might be a chance to work off some of that turkey and extra piece of pie hmmmm?)

I'd like to thank Greg Way for giving me these sheets (and several large boxes of percussion literature!) back in the mid-90s before he left Regina, Saskatchewan for Ontario. If I had to guess I'd say this was some sort of educational promo material that the Ludwig Drum Company printed and distributed back in the 60s (?) Anyways, there are some real gems here that are just as relevant now as they were back then.

Here's a clip of the great Frank Arsenault performing the very same version of "The Downfall of Paris":

And J. Burns Moore playing the "Connecticut Halftime":

Here's "Hell on the Wabash" as performed in period uniform:

And the Hellcats lay it down on the "Three Camps" (this is a chops buster...):

Thank you all for your continued support.
See you in 2017!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Neil Peart Warming Up...

 I think this is amazing.

And it's no coincidence that the foot ostinato that Peart chose to use was directly inspired by Max Roach's "The Drum Also Waltzes" (I recall reading about this in Modern Drummer magazine, maybe back in early 90s sometime?)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tim Mah's Top Jazz Picks of 2016

Calgary's Tim Mah is a good friend, a huge supporter of the local scene here in Calgary and has excellent taste when it comes to food, wine, coffee, fashion and, of course, Jazz music. Tim was nice enough to contribute today's guest blog post, his choices for the best Jazz albums of 2016.

"Tim Mah's Top 2016 Jazz Albums" by Tim Mah

In December, many “Best of the Year” album lists are published and the Grammy Awards nominations are announced.  I like reading these lists, as they serve as a filter for the thousands of albums that are released each year. I often discover albums that I have not had the opportunity to hear.

Below is a list of 20 Jazz albums for 2016 that were among my favourite Jazz albums of the year, in no particular order:

1. Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling “Upward Spiral”

2.  Gregory Porter “Take Me to the Alley”

3. Murray Allen & Carrington Power Trio "Perfection" 

4.  Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, and Matthew Garrison "In Movement"

5. Jeremy Pelt "#Jiveculture"

6.  Ben Wendel "What We Bring"

7.  The Pedrito Martinez Group "Habana Dreams"

8.  Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander, and Jarle Vespestad "What Was Said"

9.  Takuya Kuroda "Zigzagger"

10.  Francisco Mela "Fe"

11.  Logan Richardson "Shift"

12.  Theo Croker "Escape Velocity"

13.  Alfredo Rodriguez "Tocororo"

14.  Camila Meza "Traces"

15.  Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society "Real Enemies"

16. Seamus Blake "Superconductor"

17. Champian Fulton "After Dark"

18. Esperanza Spalding "Emily's D+Evolution"

19. Jane Monheit "The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald"

20. Kris Davis “Duopoly”


"Honourable Mentions…"

Jerome Jennings “The Beast”  

Melissa Aldana “Back Home”

Brandi Disterheft “Blue Canvas”

Ingrid & Christine Jensen “Infinitude”

Al Muirhead “Oop!”

Bria Skonberg “Bria"

Marquis Hill “The Way We Play”

Dominic Faranacci “Short Stories”

Warren Wolf “Convergence”

Quinsin Nachoff “Flux"

Rudy Royston Trio “Rise of Orion”

Donny McCaslin “Beyond Now”

Robert Glasper Experiment “ArtScience”

Laurence Hobgood “Honor Thy Fathers”

Avishai Cohen “Into the Silence”

Terrace Martin “Velvet Portraits”

Ibrahim Maalouf “Khaltoum”

Metalwood “Twenty”

Snarky Puppy “Culcha Vulcha"

Norah Jones “Day Breaks"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Billy Hart's Three Career Stages...

During the summer of 1998 I attended a short-lived Jazz workshop in Lake Placid, New York and Billy Hart was the guest drum teacher.

During one of Hart's masterclasses, he shared this comical piece of wisdom, his take on the career trajectory that Jazz musicians often take:

Stage one: "Who is Billy Hart?"

Stage two: "Get me Billy Hart!"

Stage three: "Get me someone who sounds like Billy Hart!"

Monday, December 12, 2016

(Super) Moutin Bros.

While I was visiting Montreal during the end of October I had the privilege of hearing the Moutin Brothers Reunion Quartet offer a clinic at McGill University and then see them perform at the Upstairs Jazz Club. I was very impressed with the shear technicality and sophistication of French bassist Francois Moutin and his brother Louis on drums. The entire group, including recent McGill faculty addition Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, was outstanding.

The highlight of both the clinic and gig, for me anyways, was a very clever drum/bass duet on a medley of Fats Waller compositions. A subsequent search of the inter web provided these duets as well, all worth watching:

Personally I'd like to see much more of this kind of thing!

And I also came across this very entertaining musical comic book narrative of the amazing Moutin brothers:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Jerry Granelli on Drums

Jerry Granelli and his trio have been touring across Canada this month, playing the music from "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I missed their Calgary show as I was playing a xmas themed Jazz show with my own big band at the same time (!) but fortunately I came across this recent footage of Granelli improvising at the drums:

I'm really intrigued by the very fluid and graceful manner in which he hits the drums. It's almost like watching a painter in action, spreading colours across a very large canvas.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Mel Lewis/Bob Mintzer Duet

One more Mel Lewis post to finish the week...Special thanks to Christopher Smith who has graciously shared this amazing video, transcriptions and insight into Mel Lewis over the past week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Mel Lewis...

Well, it's turning into a sort of unofficial Mel Lewis week over here at Four on the Floor...and that's not a bad thing!

Thanks again to Christopher Smith, author of "The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis" (UNT Press), for sending along these great Mel Lewis Transcriptions and rare photos my way to share with you all.

If you haven't already, make sure to purchase a copy of his book to learn more about the important legacy of Mel Lewis:


Monday, November 28, 2016

Chris Smith on Mel Lewis: "The View From the Back of the Band"

Today's post features an interview with Chris Smith, the author of the book "The View From The Back Of The Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis" (UNT Press).

I can say with authority that I've read a lot of books about Jazz drummers and Jazz drumming over the years and that this book, in particular, is one of the best. Smith really did his research, spoke to right people and asked all the right questions. This book is a very informative and well written testament to the life, style and contributions of one of Jazz drumming's greatest proponents. Furthermore, Smith is a very accomplished drummer himself, so his writing offers a great balance between biographical material and Jazz drumming-specific technical details. I really learned a lot about Mel Lewis from reading this (and expect to re-read this a few times in the future as well...)

Chris was kind (and patient enough!) to answer a few questions about this important book. He also sent me some rare photos, videos and a couple of great transcriptions, all of which I'll attempt to post later this week.

Now go over and purchase a copy of Smith's book for yourself:

Here's what Chris has to say about this very important piece of literature, written about one of Jazz drumming's most important figures:
1) Why did you choose Mel Lewis as the subject for your book/research?

This book began as a dissertation while a doctoral student at the University of Northern Colorado. Honestly I never imagined writing a full academic dissertation. So in 2010, completely freaked out, I wrote the following questions as I searched for a topic:

A) Most importantly, what topic will positively impact my drumming?

B) What topic/musician deserves wider recognition?

C) What topic will cultivate relationships with my musical heroes?

Years prior I played a jury at Manhattan School of Music and Dick Oatts’ commented that I should explore the legato side of drumming. For the longest time I didn’t know what that meant or how it translated to the drums. So as I began studying with Jim White at Northern Colorado and continued learning from my teacher John Riley, Mel Lewis’ name kept coming up again and again. Mel’s cymbal beat, legato sound, and Rub-A-Dub sticking became a fixation. Sitting down and closely listening to Mel clarified Oatts’ legato comment, I could finally hear it! All this to say that after years of checking out Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Billy Higgins, and Art Blakey, my drumming was in need of Mel and he quickly became the focus of my research.

There had been no academic research done on Mel so that made the decision easy. Also my existing friendships with Dick Oatts, John Riley, and Jeff Hamilton allowed me to get in touch with pretty much anyone needed for the project.

As for the dissertation becoming a book – after graduating with my doctorate I edited, added to, and changed the manuscript into the book I had dreamt. The dissertation doesn’t have many of the more colorful Mel quotes, contains no transcriptions, and is a shell of the book. The process from finished dissertation to book publication took an additional 2 years, so all in all I worked on this project for about 4 years.

2) What did you learn from all of this (and interesting facts you were surprised to learn after the fact?)

Interesting Facts:

- Mel was hired by Duke Ellington.

- Mel was hired by Count Basie twice.

- Mel never graduated high school because he went on the road his senior year.

- Mel’s last name is Sokoloff, not Lewis.

- Mel recorded over 600 albums.

- Mel said anything that was on his mind, he was almost honest to a fault.

- Mel was on hundreds of radio and TV jingles, everything from underwear to ketchup ads.

It was interesting to learn how cultural events and technology helped shape Mel’s career. Two examples being how he missed his chance to join Ellington because of the JFK assassination, and how his lively hood (like most jazz drummers) changed with the evolution of Rock and Roll and the use of electronics in recording studios.

Lastly, one of the most important takeaways from this project was the reaffirming that if you immerse yourself in something it becomes a part of you. Was it luck or a freak accident that a Jewish redhead from Buffalo was one of the most swinging drummers ever? NO! Mel Lewis lived and breathed swing. He spent his entire life listening to and playing swinging jazz music. As a result, swing was a part of his DNA and came out naturally. His “musical diet” consisted of straight ahead jazz and if more drummer’s these days had Mel’s “diet” there would be more swinging drummers, period. I know the same can be said about the “diets” of Sam Woodyard, Billy Higgins, Art Taylor…. the list goes on and on. What goes in, comes out. Mel was a prime example.

4) How has Mel's drumming influenced your own playing?

I try to never “set-up” big band figures by playing the same stock ideas. Using Mel’s example, I listen to the ensemble, keep the subdivision steady, and try to organically play what the music requires. That is a totally different concept than playing some rehearsed “fill”. Other ways Mel has influenced me include:

- Finding simple ways to change textures behind each soloist

- Using sweeping lateral motions while playing with brushes (check Jeff Hamilton for modern example)

- Tuning my bass drum lower and continuing to work on feathering at various tempos

- Playing my hi-hats slightly open as a ride cymbal option

- Relaxing my feet and playing my hi-hat with my heel down

- Using buzz stokes on the snare and toms to create legato notes

5) Why should a drummer check out and study Mel Lewis?

Mel was a magician at the drums, so subtle and tasteful. Everything Mel played seemed like the perfect thing for each musical moment. To support the music on that level should be the goal of every jazz drummer. That being said, if you don’t listen closely to what Mel’s playing it's easy to gloss over and not realize the great musical contributions he made. When Mel played with an ensemble, whether an octet, big band, or quartet, he matched pitches and articulations with the written music. It seems simple, it seems easy, but it's not. He was amazing at it and came out of him unconsciously. The ensemble played a short note; Mel played a short sound. The ensemble played a long note; Mel played a roll on the tom or plays an open hi-hat creating a legato sound. If he set up a low brass figure, he often played on his floor tom. If he played a counter line with the saxophones, he usually played it on the snare drum to match the timbre of the saxophone. He was constantly orchestrating. It is unbelievable how somebody could play that musically— it had to have been unconscious. There's no way he could be up there thinking or memorizing—like, in bar thirteen, the bass trombone plays the and of three, so I'm going to play on the floor tom. He internalized the music after hearing it once or twice and his interaction and orchestration in real time became part of the arrangement. A good example of this is Mel’s simple fills during the shout chorus of Bill Holman’s arrangement of “Stomping at the Savoy”. It’s nearly impossible to sing that shout chorus and not sing Mel’s fills. His playing became a part of the arrangement.

Mel often made simple decisions that resulted in powerful musical shifts. In the book one example I pointed out was Mel playing on Joe Lovano's album Tones, Shapes, and Colors. There's a song titled "Chess Mates" where Mel accompanies Lovano's intense solo for about three minutes, and at the point where most drummers would overplay, hit too hard, or get bad sounds out of the drums, Mel simply moved from his main ride cymbal to his Chinese cymbal and changed the intensity and vibe immediately. At that moment it sounds like the music got shot out of a cannon. To think on that level and have that much sensibility about what's happening in the music, that's what we should all be striving for.

Finally, Mel’s cymbal beat goes down as one of the best of all time. Listen to the feel of his quarter notes and the consistency of where he put his skip beat. Mel’s ride cymbal beat is swing, period. There's always a debate on what's swing and what's jazz. Well all I know is that when I hear Mel Lewis play his ride cymbal beat that's swing and that's jazz. There's nobody that's going to tell me otherwise.

6) What do you hope people and/or other drummers that read your book will take away from this?

I hope that readers come away with a much greater respect for Mel Lewis.

I also hope that reading this book leads to checking out Mel recordings they have never heard and inspires a closer listening to records they have heard hundreds of times. To sit down and closely listen to Mel on the shout chorus of “Three and One” provides such insight into his playing and the role of a big band drummer. Lastly, I hope that readers share this book with a young jazz drummer. This isn’t a Jack DeJohnette transcription book! Mel’s musical concepts, and the transcriptions included in this book, are achievable and immediately applicable to drummers of all levels, from middle school to professional.

7) What are your favorite recordings of Mel Lewis?

Impossible to narrow down, but here’s a list of several favorites:

Bill Holman: The Fabulous Bill Holman

Pepper Adams: Critics’ Choice

Don Fagerquist Octet: Eight by Eight

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Swings Lightly

Terry Gibbs Dream Band: Volume 1-6

Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster

Witherspoon, Mulligan, Webster at the Renaissance

Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley

Sylvia Syms: The Fabulous Sylvia Syms

Jimmy Ricks: Vibrations (Arranged and Conducted by Don Sebesky)

Presenting Thad Jones/Mel Lewis & The Jazz Orchestra

The Big Band Sound of Thad Jones/Mel Lewis featuring Miss Ruth Brown

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra: Paris 1969 – Volume 1

Chet Baker: Once Upon a Summertime

Pete Malinverni: Don’t Be Shy

Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra: Soft Lights and Hot Music

Mel Lewis Sextet: The Lost Art

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well it's been awhile now since this column has made an appearance here at Four on the Floor (months, in fact!), but here we are and thanks for coming back to check in!

As per usual, here's a wealth of interesting things making rounds here, around the office:

- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along this rare gem, an audio interview with Vernel Fournier, talking about the musical legacy of bassist Israel Crosby:


- Andrew Cyrille featured by the New York Times:


- Pianist Kris Davis has a new album out that features a variety of duet configurations, including tracks with drummers Marcus Gilmore and Billy Drummond. Here is a sample of one of these tracks featuring Drummond and Davis on Thelonious Monk's "Eronel":


- "Cat with Hats" is one of my favorite new discoveries in the world of on-line drumming blog's these days:


This blog features many regular video interviews with many of the world's great drummers including the likes of Pete Lockett and Ari Hoenig:

- A nice interview with Winard Harper, a drummer who everyone should know about!


- While I didn't quite realize it until relatively recently, drummer Jim White has been an influence on me for nearly 25 years (!) I distinctly recall reading a wonderfully written column he wrote for Percussive Notes in which he offered some listening suggestions, recommending which albums and Jazz drummers to listen to. These recordings have all stuck with me ever since and his article was huge help back when I was starting out. Thanks Jim!

Here's a four-part interview with Jim in which he talks about his career and development:





- Here's Bryan Carter interviewed over at the 180 Drums Podcast with some sage advice and practice ideas:

- Allison Miller demonstrates some cool ideas!

- Thanks to Tim Mah who passed along this one of Kendrick Scott:

- Elvin!

- What am I listening to these days?

Dave Holland "ECM :rarum - Selected Recordings" - Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Billy Kilson, Nate Smith, Gene Jackson, Barry Altschul (drums)

Chick Corea "ECM :rarum - Selected Recordings" - Airto Moreira (percussion), Gary Burton (vibraphone), Roy Haynes (drums)

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom "Otis Was A Polar Bear" - Allison Miller (drums)

Cannonball Adderley "Nipon Soul" - Louis Hayes (drums)

Albert Vila "The Unquiet Sky" - Jeff Ballard (drums)

Kris Davis "Duopoly" - Marcus Gilmore, Billy Drummond (drums)

Victor Lewis "Eeeyyess!" - Victor Lewis (drums)

Andre White "El Toro" - Dave Laing (drums)

Andre White & Bill Coon "Esprit de Corps" - Dan Skakun (drums)

Andre White "Give the Drummer Some!" - Andre White, Dave Laing (drums)

Clark Terry & Red Mitchell "To Duke & Basie"

Joe Lovano "Classic! Live at Newport" - Lewis Nash (drums)

Willie Jones III "Groundwork" - Willie Jones III (drums), Warren Wolf (vibraphone)

Kenny Barron Trio "Book of Intuition" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

Charles Lloyd "Of Course, Of Course" - Tony Williams (drums)

Tom Harrell "Number Five" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

- And for today's Final Word, I leave you with this wisdom and this insight from the late Norval Morriseau, one of my favorite painters who's depiction of First Nation mythology and spirituality has really captured my imagination these days...

"I go to the inner places. I go to the source. I even dare to say, I go to the house of invention where all the inventors of mankind have been."

- Norval Morriseau, Ojibway Painter and Shaman

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ed Thigpen 1991

Another great Jazz drum clinic from the 1991 IAJE Conference, this time featuring Ed Thigpen on drums, sticks, cymbals and brushes:

And if you like that, then dig these!

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I've always been a big fan of drummer Peter Erskine and have found his teachings to be a wonderful resource over the course of my own career. When I first got started on the drums back in the early 90s (living in an urban centre with relatively few Jazz drumming resources!) an important teacher of mine gave me a copy of Erskine's "Everything is Timekeeping" video series and, in many ways, this set the tone for my approach to the drum set in the years to come.

Peter always manages to find the perfect balance between technique and concept in his explanations and writings and he always puts the utmost attention to playing the drums with the highest sense of musicality at all times. In this day and age of over-the-top, sensationalist drumming, whenever I see a video or article from Erskine, I take note and pay attention.

Here's a few great resources that have come across our desks over here at Four on the Floor lately:

- A lesson demonstrating some basic drum techniques (Peter always does a great job stressing and contextualizing his "back to basics" philosophy):

- Highlights from a drum clinic at the Donn Bennett Drum Studio:

- An important brush playing concept (Peter is a great brush player!):

- A wonderful and articulate interview with Peter from The Drummer's Resource Podcast:


- Some important considerations or "rules" for drummers to take into account:


- Erskine on bass players (the drummer's best friend!):


- And finally, thanks to the kind people over at NYU Steinhardt, here is an in-depth conversation with Peter Erskine:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bellson 1991

And thanks to the same gentlemen who posted the Joe Morello masterclass earlier this week, here's a Louie Bellson drum clinic, also from the 1991 IAJE Conference:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Morello 1991

Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed this one along this morning:

The older I get, my appreciation grows exponentially for Mr. Morello's super-efficient and relaxed technique and exceptional musicality.

As per always, when the Masters speak....we listen!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Marty Morell on Brushes

I came across these great brush playing demonstrations the other day, featuring one of my all-time favourite piano trio drummers who played with pianist Bill Evans back in the day, the great Marty Morell:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shuffle Diddles...

Today's drum lesson features a brief but fun little ditty that I came up with the other day while driving to a gig and waiting at a red light (does this qualify as distracted driving???)

Anyways, the pattern resembles this and combines one single paradiddlediddle followed by a single paradiddle combination:

You'll notice that the pattern switches hands every second bar, going back and forth between the right and left hand leads.

Ideally you'll want to work this two-bar pattern up to a very fast sixteenth note pace or even 32nd notes. This is because if you do, and if the accents are properly articulated, you'll start to hear a slow 12/8 shuffle pattern emerge from the accents.

You'll start to hear something like this:

You could also experiment with substituting double paradiddles in the beginning of each bar (leading with both the right and left hands of course).

I've also been having fun experimenting with this pattern, orchestrating it around the drum set.

This is a fun little phrasing exercise that gets your hands going, combines rudiments and also illustrates the concept of hearing larger accent patterns/phrases amongst denser rhythmic combinations.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ulysses Owens Jr.

Some interesting masterclass footage today from Ulysses Owens Jr., a drummer who's recent work with Christian McBride's piano trio I've enjoyed quite a bit:

And thanks to the kind people over at the Zildjian cymbal company, here's Owens demonstrating a very nice collection of his Kerope cymbals:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dom Moio Lessons

Today's post features several short but very practical and informative mini-lessons from Arizona drummer Dom Moio. I took a few lessons from Dom back in 2004 while visiting my brother who was, at the time, studying his Master's at ASU.

Dom's demonstrates these Latin grooves in a very clear and concise way and I hope he offers more in the future:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mr. A.T.


Special thanks to Chad Anderson who passed along this very important interview with the great Art Taylor from 1994 (as part of the New York Public Library's Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project).

As per usual, when the Master's speak...we listen.


And to remind us all of what a supreme & badass monster swinger that Art Taylor was, here's some great concert footage from 1958 with Zoot Sims, Walter Davis and Doug Watkins:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Welcome back and I hope you all had a wonderful Labour Day long weekend.

Today's post features some excellent drumming and commentary from Tyshawn Sorey, a very unique drummer/composer/multi-instrumentalist/scholar who is quickly being recognized as a modern Master. Thanks to the kind people over at the Memphis Drum Shop for putting together and sharing these.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tony Williams Drum Clinic 1987

And…we're back.

These two clips of Tony Williams from a 1987 drum workshop in Austria have been making the rounds this summer. What an incredible opportunity to see a Master up close like this.

In the first footage we see Mr. Williams "warming up":

Notice the extensive use of single strokes, doubles and various paradiddles, switching effortlessly and executed at a very high dynamic level and stick height. A "warm up" indeed!

And here's the following drum solo performed for his class:

I saw Tony perform a very similar type of clinic like this in San Antonio at an IAJE conference in 1993. This video, I think, is a great demonstration of Tony Williams' style during the 80s and 90s. Interestingly enough, drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis also attended that same clinic and, while we were playing some gigs together last year, it was interesting for the two of us to compare notes on what we remembered and took away from the experience.

Somebody also sent me an audio recording of this clinic and once I have the opportunity to listen to that I'll provide the highlights later.

*Edit* Thanks to Camil Belisle, here's the audio recording I mentioned!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well it's been awhile since one of my Monday Morning Paradiddle columns so I've tried to make this one a lengthy one at that. I'm hitting the road shortly and not sure how much time I'll have for blogging, linking or posting and such while I'm out and about over the course of these next summer months. Maybe I'll pop by once-in-awhile to say hello, we'll see. In the meantime, here's some random beats to check out that I think you'll enjoy:

- From the Smithsonian here's a piece on the origins of our instrument entitled "The Birth of the Drum Set":


- Albert "Tootie" Heath shares his experience playing with pianist Thelonious Monk:


- Billy Hart shares five of his most influential albums:


- A great interview with my friend Adam Nussbaum:


- The Drummer's Resource Podcast offers some insightful interviews with Eric Harland:


...and Billy Martin:


- Modern Drummer magazine features Allison Miller on their monthly podcast:


- NPR features Ralph Peterson Jr.:


...and Matt Wilson:


- Matt recently released a wonderful and joyous album in memory of his late wife Felicia. Here's a couple pieces about Matt's latest sonic offering:



- Billy Drummond talks stereos and such over at stereophile.com:


- A nice feature on percussionist Russell Hartenberger (my friend, teacher and former Doctoral supervisor) and Steve Reich from the BBC:


- Need some ideas for albums to play-a-long with when you're practicing? Here's albums to check out:

- A great article on creativity and practicing from a blog I enjoy frequenting:

- Jack DeJohnette's latest trio project with Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison is featured here:


...and here's some great duet footage of DeJohnette with baritone saxophonist John Surman:

I heard this duet combination at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2001 and it was nothing short of inspiring. These two musicians obviously have a long history of playing together.

-Thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center's Jazz Academy, Sherrie Maricle offers some very practical motivic drum soloing techniques:

- Chicago's George Fludas is a drummer that's not mentioned nearly enough, but I think he's awesome:

- Gerry Hemingway is a another very creative drum set artist who's music I've been meaning to get into for a long time now. Here's one reason why:

- John Abraham,  currently the drummer with Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas production of "O", recently forwarded me this very interesting composition that combines a number of different techniques:

Well done John and thanks for sharing!

- Joe Lovano has a new record coming out soon that features one of my favorites, the great Lewis Nash on drums. Here's a recent performance of Nash laying it down with Lovano's "Classic Quartet":

- Brian Blade is touring with the trio of Chick Corea and Christian McBride these days. Here's an excerpt of his dynamic solo from the tune"Fingerprints":

- What am I listening to these days?

Mike Melito "New York Connection" - Mike Melito (drums)

Matt Wilson "Beginning of a Memory" - Matt Wilson (drums)

John Coltrane "Crescent" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Ben Henriques "Captain Awesome" - Dave Laing (drums)

Nick Fraser "Starer" - Nick Fraser (drums)

Eric Alexander & Vincent Herring "The Battle" - Carl Allen (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Toni Morrison (via Tanya Kalmanovitch):

"I tell my students, ' When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab bag candy game.'" - Toni Morrison

*I think this is some really sage advice to anyone who might be in a position to help others. Don't be greedy. Don't hoard all the knowledge and spirits that others have undoubtedly shared with you. This is also very reminiscent of Dave Holland's of beautiful piece "Pass it on" (dedicated to Edward Blackwell) for the very same reason...

Alrighty, that's all for now. Be well and see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Whole Drum Truth!

A pretty amazing collection of current Jazz drummers, all collaborating together in one giant collective percussion discussion. Featuring Joe Saylor, Willie Jones III and Sylvia Cuenca, all led by the elder statesman Albert Tootie Heath on drums:

I've personally had two significant drum set ensemble experiences such as this, first playing with Joe LaBarbera at the Banff Centre in 1997 and then with Billy Hart in Lake Placid, New York in 1998. In both instances both LaBarbera and Hart insisted that we all set-up and play together during our daily morning, drum masterclasses (anywhere from 6-8 drum sets all at once, with our drums set-up collectively in a giant circle!) It's very rare that we as drummers have the opportunity to play together with other drummers and we should really encourage more of this sort of thing.

I don't think the label "drum battle" really applies to this sort of configuration (not like the friendly rivalry of Rich vs. Krupa for example) but this is more of an attempt to explore the idea of a group of drummers playing multiple drum sets, together as a true ensemble. Once we shed the competitive aspects of playing the drums in a context such as this, ensembles like this really become a positive experience and a chance to share and celebrate our collective love for rhythm, the drums and the "brotherhood" of drumming to which we all belong.

Here's another incarnation of the same group but with different personnel (this time with Billy Hart, Idris Muhammad, Louis Hayes and, again, Albert Tootie Heath):

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lost in Translation: "Jeef" Tain Watts...

I discovered a wonderful new jazz drummer the other day (unknown to me anyways Lol…) Anyways, typo or not, he has lots to say and sounds amazing...

Monday, June 6, 2016


I discovered these fantastic clips of Kenny Clarke last week and since there's not a lot of footage of Klook out there, these ones (especially the last one with Martial Solal, featuring some impeccable brushwork) are all mandatory watching/listening.

Notice the lack of a mounted tom on three of these clips and, also, as Brad Shigeta pointed out to me when I showed these to him: "Traditional Grip!" Indeed ; )

Monday, May 30, 2016

Lewis Nash Speaks

Definitely not the greatest audio/video quality but definitely some quality wisdom from the great Lewis Nash thanks to an intrepid audience member with his/her iPhone:

As per always, when the Masters speak....we listen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Andre Ceccarelli 13"17

 I've been checking out a lot of great European Jazz drummers lately and French Jazz drummer Andre Ceccarelli is certainly no exception:

And here's a little masterclass/lesson to dig into:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Up Close with Billy Hart

A couple of interesting, up and close videos of Jabali Billy Hart in action with his quartet from a recent performance at Bimhuis:

It's always a lesson for me to watch and listen to Billy play. His clear sense of exaggerated dynamics, textural orchestrations and musical accompaniment behind other soloists is always a joy and a clear reminder of what it means to be a Jazz drummer.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Jon Christensen

An interesting one today featuring Norway's Jon Christensen (of ECM fame) with Sonny Rollins circa. 1971:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Roberto Gatto

Thanks to Toronto's Reg Schwager who passed along this one of Italian Jazz drummer Roberto Gatto, via the Facebook, a very fine drummer I wasn't previously familiar with:

And I enjoyed this one as well, featuring Gatto on a set of drums previously owned/played by Elvin Jones:

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Spring is upon us and here's what's on the go over here at Four on the Floor these days:

- Clayton Cameron offers some inspiring and refreshing perspectives in his TED Talk entitled "How I Fell in Love with the Drums":


- Scott K Fish is always up to great things over at his blog Life Beyond Cymbals. Here's a recent piece on Keith Copeland:


- Todd Bishop is, as always, also offering great things over at his blog Cruiseship Drummer. Here's a great piece that Todd recently shared, some thoughts on Billy Higgins offered by Jeff Tain Watts:


- Another edition of "Life of Drums" from Billy Martin entitled "The Para-Riddle":

- An article/interview featuring Terri Lyne Carrington from Drum Magazine:


- Master drummer Jack DeJohnette has a trio album on ECM with Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison that drops this week. Here's a piece on DeJohnette from NPR:


And here's another interview with DeJohnette from the Jake Feinberg show:


- Kendrick Scott shows off his new Yamaha drums, some nice Zildjian cymbals and one really hip, funky looking wide-brimmed hat:

- Speaking of new drums, here's a hip clip of Adam Arruda and Colin Stranahan double-drum-demonstrating their nice Canopus drums:

- Thanks to Toronto's Reg Schwager who passed along this one of legendary guitarist Sonny Greenwich in an old CBC clip featuring Jerry Fuller on drums:

- George Marsh discusses his concept and philosophy of "Inner Drumming" via Jake Feinberg:

- And an oldie, but still a goldie...Steve Gadd on brushes:

- What am I listening to these days?

John Coltrane "The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Thelonious Monk "Monk's Dream" - Frankie Dunlop (drums)

Dick Oatts Quintet "South Paw" - James Oblon (drums)

Danish Radio Big Band "The Impaler" - Jeff Tain Watts (drums)

Nicole Glover "First Record" - Alan Jones (drums)

Dave Holland "Razor's Edge" - Marvin Smitty Smith (drums)

Jack DeJohnette "Made in Chicago" - Jack DeJohnette (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Jack Mouse via my good friend (and fellow Canadian Jazz drumming blogger!) Ted Warren:

"The hardest part about practicing is taking your butt and putting it on the drum stool. Usually after that, it goes alright!"


Thanks again for taking time out of your busy day to read my blog and have a great week!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Francisco Mela Speaks

Mela is a drummer I've greatly admired, in particular his work with Joe Lovano, Kenny Barron, Melissa Aldana, his own projects and, most recently, with saxophonist Gary Bartz.

Here's a few interview clips with Francisco via Jazz Times:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mr. Higgins

I posted a link to the URL containing this concert in its entirety a few weeks back….but here's a nice excerpt via the youtube.com featuring the ever soulful and swinging Mr. Billy Higgins at work:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Time Warp

Some "vintage" Canadian Jazz today via Toronto's Barry Elmes:

This band was quite influential to me during my first introduction to Jazz music around the early 90s. Drummer Barry Elmes and his group Time Warp (co-led with bassist Al Henderson) was one of the first examples of Canadian Jazz that I was first exposed to during my initial foray into the world of Jazz music. The Regina Public Library, my first source for recordings in the pre-internet era, was a good place to find not only Jazz records, but Canadian ones too.

During the 1990s Elmes was very active not only leading his own projects but also hitting the road and taking his unique music to different parts of Canada, many of which didn't see much Jazz music. I've always been a fan of Elmes' drumming, in particular his melodic approach to the drums inspired by such drummers as Max Roach and Dannie Richmond. He's also a prolific composer and his work has been quite influential towards my own efforts as well.

And here's a few links of some live, concert footage of Time Warp from the Sounds of Jazz Concert Series, courtesy of the Canadian Jazz Archive over at JAZZ.FM91




Monday, April 11, 2016

John Ramsay

Thanks to Christian DeJongh who shared his lessons with Berklee drum professor John Ramsay via the YouTube.com:

I was first exposed myself to Ramsay's teachings via his fine books "Art Blakey's Jazz Messages" and "The Drummer's Complete Vocabulary (as taught by Alan Dawson)".

In particular, Ramsay's book on Art Blakey was a valuable resource for me when it first came out in the mid-90s. Ramsay's experience as Blakey's road manager and sometimes playing alongside him as his "double" drummer translates well in this text and provides a first-hand look at Blakey's style.

John was also very helpful to me personally during my doctoral research, providing some valuable insight into the melodic aspects of Alan Dawson's teachings. Aspects of these are also covered in his book, dealing with Dawson's extensive method and teachings. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mark's Blues

This little ditty is a simple and catchy snare drum cadence that I learned and played while marching with the Pride of Lions drumline back during the early 1990s in Regina, Saskatchewan. We would use this 4-bar phrase (or 8-bars if you are thinking in 2/4….and not actually a "blues" incidentally!) as a street beat during parades and as a stock, catch-all drum pattern that fit perfectly when accompanying band pieces for football games, etc. ("Green is Colour" and "On Roughriders" immediately come to mind!)

Lately I've been using this as a quick and easy warm-up, with sort of a funky and quick-and-dirty Wilcoxin vibe to it:

Unless otherwise notated, play this with natural, hand-to-hand stickings.

Btw - does anybody know who "Mark" was or why he had the blues?