Monday, April 30, 2018

Jochen Rueckert's Instructional Videos

German-born, New York based Jazz drummer Jochen Rueckert has recently produced and released a series of wonderful Jazz drumming instructional videos, all drawn from his extensive personal experience. These are really well done and I highly recommend these to anyone seeking to up their game as a Jazz drummer. Check out the new link and banner on my blog, located on the right hand side of the page. You can also visit his site here: https://www.jochenrueckert.net/#instructional-videos

Jochen has been active on the New York Jazz scene for over 20 years and has been played with a who's who of contemporary Jazz artists. Check out this clip of him with his quartet featuring Mark Turner:

And here's a little drum solo statement:

Jochen was also kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest instructional project:

-Tell us all about your new series of instructional videos. What is it all about?

I started releasing short instructional videos through my website late last year. So far I've released 6 episodes, each episode is around 20 minutes long and focuses on one topic. I've got one episode only focusing on brushes, for example. So, say you're not interested in my advice on brushes then you can skip that one. I tried to pack as much useful information into each episode as possible

-Why did you decide to pursue this project?

Well, I have been teaching increasingly over the last few years, probably because I am more visible now as a band leader. Frankly, I got tired of telling people the same shit over and over in private lessons . There seem to be so many common problems amongst my students, I thought It would be good to streamline the whole process into a video series and save a lot of people the arduous trip on the C train to my house. I also feel like a lot of the other jazz drum masterclass videos out there are all over the place, many are not very focused, with too much playing or showing off by the artist, and some, I feel, are way too advanced, some miss the point entirely or pass along very little useful advice. So I was hoping to improve those aspects with starting my own series. I am also continuously broke, as required by jazz-law, so i would be lying if I said making a little extra bread wasn't an incentive.

-What were the logistics involved in completing such a project?

Writing the material was easy - I really had to stop myself actually, so many things that come up in lessons that I wanted to get on tape. Much harder was finding the right format and dividing the material into episodes that make sense, since a lot of things are connected. Presenting that stuff on camera without an actual script or cue cards or a telepromter was a real bitch, though. You can see me being veeeeeery uncomfortable in the first episode and slowly getting adjusted throughout the series. Mostly you're watching exhaustion taking over my body once you get to episode 5. Originally, I was considering doing it for some of the platforms already out there: mymusicmasterclass, Jazz Heaven, and the soon to be launched elite music mentor- they're all cool but somehow it didn't quite work out timing-wise. Turns out my neighbour is a pro cameraman so we just went for it and we filmed all the stuff in my practice room here in my apartment in Harlem over two days. My buddy Matt Marantz did the drum recording with his mobile setup and it was pretty intense actually, with all the lights, cameras and mics in that small room. And the editing also really sucks, apart from it taking ages, it's also quite painful to watch oneself on screen over and over.

-What can you tell us about your background as a musician?

Just a quick overview- I am a jazz drummer mostly, I have been doing a lot of sideman work in a plethora of bands - notably the Kurt Rosenwinkel quartet, Melissa Aldana trio. Recently I play a lot with my own quartet, with Mark Turner and either Lage Lund or Mike Moreno and whatever bass monkey is available. I play a lot of "modern jazz" ( almost a curse word these days) and I love playing (and also writing) more traditional stuff, with a little modern twist perhaps. I am a little old fashioned that way in that I love jazz from the 60s. Apart from that, I make a lot of pretty far out electronic music under the moniker "Wolff Parkinson White" and here it's more about metric modulation from 17/16 to 25/8 every 2 bars and microtonal tone rows at 208.5 bpm.

-How did your musical background and experience shape and inform your ideas about developing this series of videos?

Well, as I mentioned, I am just a tad more old fashioned than some people think. I believe there should be a strong understanding of the history of jazz and that your playing should be rooted in that tradition. I get a lot of students that are clueless about that sort of stuff and can't swing their way out of a paper bag. I mean, they want to, but they can't. Then they just go on and study some more advanced stuff like weird odd meter things or metric modulation whatever. I am trying to bring some perspective to that: "first things first". You can't really do all that fancy stuff that people often seek me out for, before you have a solid base to build it on .

-What have been some of the highlights and challenges while working on this project?

As I mentioned before, editing is really frustrating and an absolute nightmare was getting subtitles made. I was hoping for some customers in Japan and China so I spent a lot of time explaining everything to various translators, then in the end there was basically no interest from Asia whatsoever, which was a bummer, so I stopped making asian subtitles. On the positive side, it was nice to not only get some positive feedback from drummer colleagues, but also from some people that play other instruments too.

-What does the future have in store for you and your activities? 

Well, I am about to hit the road for 3 weeks with my quartet, I am doing a little bit of big band work for the NDR big band, which is unusual for me, I am working on some new music for my jazz quartet and for a project with a larger, extended horn section band as well as slowly finishing up the next Wolff Parkinson White record I have been slaving away at for several years. This one will have different guest singers, so that'll be fun.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, looks like Spring is finally here. Personally I've had enough of this never ending Winter and it seems like it dragged on forever. Now I know how House Stark felt in Game of Thrones, all those years defending the Wall...Anyways, now that the snow is gone and the sun is finally shining and trees blooming, here is what we have on the go for this early Spring edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle:

- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who forwarded this nice piece on Albert "Tootie" Heath:


- An interview with Maestro Terry Clarke:


- Thanks to Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah for sending along this great segment on Herlin Riley and the legacy of the Lastie family from New Orleans, featured on WWNO:


- Chicago's Chad Taylor featured over at All About Jazz.com:


- Here's two wonderful podcasts that I have been following regularly of late,  to get me through this unnecessarily long Winter weather:

"Jazz Stories" from Jazz @ Lincoln Centre:


"You'll Hear it" from Peter Martin's Open Studio Network:


- A wild and inventive improvised solo from Han Bennink:

- "Birdman Live" from Antonio Sanchez:

- A cool drum solo from Idris Muhammad, from a trio performance with Joe Lovano:

- Jeff Ballard plays a mallet-inspired drum solo in a museum:

- I posted this one before but it's really amazing and deserves to be posted again. Here's phenom Tyshawn Sorey with Master drummer Pedrito Martinez:

- Portland's Alan Jones in a little saxophone trio action on "All the Thing You Are":

- Marvin Bugalu Smith is a force. Check him out!

Truth be told, "BETTER THAN HOLLYWOOD” series 94 by Marvin Bugalu Smith b from Marvin Bugalu Smith on Vimeo.

- What am I listening to these days?

Solon McDade "Murals" - Rich Irwin (drums)

Terri Lyne Carrington "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue" - Terri Lyne Carrington (drums)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago "ECM :rarum" - Famoudou Don Moye (Sun Percussion)

Brian Lynch & Conrad Herwig "Que Viva Coltrane" - Robby Ameen (drums), Richie Flores (congas)

Mark Turner "Lathe of Heaven" - Marcus Gilmore (drums)

Dave Douglas & Joe Lovano: Sound Prints "Scandal" - Joey Baron (drums)

Jackie McLean & Tina Brooks "Street Singer" - Art Taylor (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to Joseph Campbell:

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Butch Miles

A couple of short lessons today from the legendary Butch Miles: a cool brush pattern and some tips on how to play the hi-hat:

Monday, April 16, 2018

JoJo Mayer: Practice Wisdom

Thanks to Nick Ruffini from the Drummer's Resource Podcast Instagram page (check out his webpage here: www.drummersresource.com) here is JoJo Mayer's philosophy for a more effective practice routine:

"JoJo Mayer's Practice Rules"

Rule #1 - Practice what you CAN'T do.

Rule #2 - Be aware of WHAT you're practicing for. Be aware of WHY you believe you need to accomplish that. Start with the end in mind.

Rule #3 - Don't practice for hours...practice for RESULTS. Practice as short as necessary, not as long as possible.

Rule #4 - Observe yourself carefully. Practice with the same attitude you'd like to see yourself perform.

Rule #5 - If you get stuck too long with one thing...leave it, relax...try a different viewpoint.

Rule #6 - Practice is like raising children or growing plants: you can't force it to grow...all you do is CARE. Challenge yourself but be patient, have trust and have fun.

Rule #7 - Practicing is not a means to an end. If you're not sure why you're practicing, it's sometimes better to stop and do something else. Perhaps stop practicing for a while, and then pick it up again once you are certain WHY you want or need to.

Rule #8 - Don't focus on practicing the drums...focus on playing music!


And furthermore, here is a fascinating Tedx Talk given by JoJo Mayer himself to check out:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Han Bennink: The Havana Dance Band

Thanks to Ireland's Noel Martin Jr. who posted a great clip of Han Bennink over on FB the other day that eventually led me to this gem, "The Havana Dance Band", recorded in 1983 as part of an art gallery installation.

As per usual, this is some exceptional playing from Bennink that demonstrates how many sounds and how much interest can be sustained with just a minimal drum set-up at one's disposal. We can all take a lesson from this!

And just in case you're not convinced and dismiss Han Bennink as some kind of a nut (you should get your head checked on that point alone!) then check out this footage of him playing with Wes Montgomery (I think he sounds like Kenny Clarke!):

Monday, April 9, 2018

Jabali Billy Hart: "Still Out of Control"

I was inspired by this brief faculty profile of Master drummer Jabali Billy Hart via the Oberlin Conservatory (check out his last comment Lol...and I'm also inclined to transcribe that cool paradiddle/cross-over pattern that he plays at 1:28):

And from a recent week-long trio engagement at the Village Vanguard with pianist Fred Hersch, here's Hart in action on Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile" and Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" (special thanks to Tim Mah for passing these along...):

Finally, from the Pace Report, here's an interview with this Master drummer who is always eager to share his wisdom:

As per usual, when the Masters speak...we must listen.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Johnny Griffin & Art Taylor: France 1970

I've posted parts of this one before but those clips are long gone on the YouTube....so here's some killing footage Johnny Griffin and Art Taylor GOING FOR IT from a 1970 French TV broadcast: