Monday, December 31, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back and I hope you've all been enjoying your turkey and eggnog over the holidays. It's the very last day of the year and therefore this is the last blog post and final Monday Morning Paradiddle column of 2018. Thanks again for your continued support and here's to what was definitely an eventful year and looking ahead ahead to 2019.

So without any further adieu, here's what's shakin' around the Four on the Floor office these days:

- Check out this informative and entertaining new podcast from Chad Anderson, George Sluppick and Robert Barnett entitled The Set Break

- Terry Bozzio interviews Gerry Gibbs at The Drum Channel

- Zildjian cymbal smith Paul Francis interviewed by DRUM! magazine

- A New York Times article feature on the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company

- A Before & After listening session with Adam Nussbaum from JazzTimes magazine

- Also from JazzTimes, Bright Moments with Brian Blade and this piece entitled The Place of the Drum Solo in Jazz

- What ever happened to Larry Bunker?

- Jazz warrior Victor Lewis interviewed over at All About Jazz

- Keith Copeland discusses his influences over at Scott K Fish's Life Beyond Cymbals

- An interview with Seattle's Ted Poor, an incredible musician that everyone should know about!

- Thanks again to the frequent and insightful Four on the Floor contributor Tim Mah for sending along this Rolling Stone piece on Chicago's Makaya McCraven

- A great list of recent solo percussion releases to check out from freejazzblog.org (thanks to Jeff Cosgrove for this suggestion)

- The Drum Shuffle offers an interview with Bill Stewart:

And, in case one needed any reminding...

- From Ben Wendel's "Standards with Friends" YouTube series, here is Wendel with Mark Guiliana on Thelonious Monk's "Evidence":

- A short clip of Willie Jones III in action:

- Jim Black playing some very unique (and wobbly!) cymbals:

- A cool piece on the legacy of Blue Note's album artwork:

- Thanks to Rochester's Mike Melito for reminding us via the Facebook to check out Shadow Wilson's drum break on Count Basie's "Queer Street":

- What am I listening to these days?

Eric Reed "Something Beautiful" - Rodney Green (drums)

Duke Ellington "Such Sweet Thunder" - Sam Woodyard (drums)

Elvin Jones "Live at the Lighthouse" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Turboprop "Abundance" - Ernesto Cervini (drums)

McCoy Tyner "Tender Moments" - Joe Chambers (drums)

Miles Davis "In Europe" - Tony Williams (drums)

John Coltrane "Ballads" - Elvin Jones (drums)

- And today's/this year's Final Word goes to Tyshawn Sorey...

"The thing in life I regret most was never having the chance to meet Ornette. But what I will say is this: As one who deals equally with both of these “traditions” (I happen to come from bebop, and have had a great deal of experience learning from the masters, which I still do! And I *still* play this kind of music - even though it’s not what I’m known for doing, given that certain folks view me as “that dude who plays really difficult and weird music all the time...” which is a VERY limited attitude.), sometime what bothers me is when I hear “bebop” played as a style of music. When the opportunity to play a standard comes about, those who indeed have a voice of their own in free/avant-garde settings suddenly become clones - all you hear are regurgitated cliches, pattens, and licks that have been transcribed...just to prove that they can play changes. It becomes an excuse to be creatively lazy and try to sound exactly like the people they have been influenced by...they are no longer “themselves” THROUGH the understanding of that language. There’s a difference between simply playing cliches and finding ways of playing over standards that is personalized, but without trying to play “out.” When one plays cliches, they are playing AT the musicians, and not with them. They’re not TOTALLY in the act of music making.

Say what you wish about Steve Coleman (which is separate from this conversation - given we are discussing MUSIC here) but to me he was one of the people who actually found a way to deal in that music in the most personal, lucid way through his understanding of the masters. Working with him during my tenure taught me that this music, too often, is played as a regurgitated style full of cliches. We need to get past that way of playing (or mocking) the music. You can still “be yourself” while having a well-grounded understanding in that language.

The other thing I will say, however, that the act of performing free/avant-garde music (or whatever you wish to call it) shouldn’t necessarily be one that is only valid once you have “mastered” the bebop language... Bebop is neither a style nor a prerequisite for this kind of expression...though it has greatly informed me very well in so many ways as a musician and composer. I don’t know why people feel that there is harm in dealing with or learning from either of these sub realms of creative music, and then when it comes time to deal with changes or swing, all of a sudden it sounds like a mockery of that music. Be yourself ALL the time, THROUGH your understanding of the language." 

- Tyshawn Sorey via the Facebook, November 2018

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Tim Mah's Top Canadian Jazz Albums of 2018

Another year-end list from Four on the Floor correspondent and CJSW radio host Tim Mah, this time featuring his top picks for Canadian Jazz releases of 2018.

Check out Tim Mah's radio show Jazz Today on CJSW 90.9 fm every Thursday morning from 530-7am and over at https://cjsw.com/program/jazz-today/  (also podcasted on iTunes!) and don't forget to read his previous guest column, a wonderful list of his picks for top overall Jazz albums for 2018.

And now, without any further adieu...

"Tim Mah's Top Canadian Jazz Albums of 2018"

In recognition of next summer’s 40th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, here’s a list of forty album recommendations (released between December 2017 and November 2018) from Canadian jazz artists (as a leader or co-leader):

1) Renee Rosnes “Beloved of the Sky”

Pianist Renee Rosnes followed up to her 2017 Juno Award winning album “Written on the Rocks” with the April 2018 album called “Beloved of the Sky”. The album title is borrowed from an Emily Carr painting. The musicians on the album include Chris Potter (tenor sax, soprano sax flute), Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Peter Washington (bass), and Lenny White (drums).

Below is “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky”:

2) Ingrid Jensen & Steve Treseler “Invisible Sounds: for Kenny Wheeler”

In October 2018, Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler released an album of their reinterpretations of the music of Kenny Wheeler. Personnel: Ingrid Jensen (trumpet and effects), Steve Treseler (tenor sax, clarinet/bass clarinet), Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Martin Wind (double bass), Jon Wikan (drums) and with special guests: Katie Jacobson (voice), Christine Jensen (soprano saxophone).

Below is a video of NPR’s live recording of “Foxy Trot”:

3) Renee Rosnes & David Hajdu “Ice on the Hudson”

Renee Rosnes released her second album this year in October, which included lyrics by David Hajdu and featured vocalists Rene Marie, Janis Siegel, Darius de Haas and Karen Oberlin. Personnel: Renee Rosnes (piano), Steve Wilson (alto & soprano sax), Seamus Blake (tenor sax), Ken Peplowski (clarinet), Erik Friedlander (cello), Sean Smith (bass), Carl Allen (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion).

“A Tiny Seed” featuring Rene Marie on vocals:

4) Ben Wendel “The Seasons”

In October 2018, Ben Wendel (Vancouver-born, raised in Los Angeles, now based in New York City) released his studio album adaptation of his YouTube video series “The Seasons.” Inspired by Tchaikovsky’s compositions, each track is dedicated to a specific month and artist, who has shaped Wendel's creative vision. Personnel: Ben Wendel (saxophone, bassoon, effects), Aaron Parks (piano), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Matt Brewer (bass), Eric Harland (drums)

This is the video for the song “July” from “The Seasons”:

5) Kris Davis and Craig Taborn “Octopus”

Kris Davis (Vancouver-born, Calgary-raised and New York-based pianist) released a follow-up to her acclaimed 2016 album “Duopoly”, The January 2018 album “Octopus” features live recordings from three concerts during a 12-city U.S. tour, featuring Kris Davis and Craig Taborn.

Below is a concert video of “Octopus” in San Diego, California:

6) Jodi Proznick Quartet featuring Laila Biali “Sun Songs”

Released in December 2017, Vancouver bassist Jodi Proznick’s new album was inspired by two major life events (the birth of her son and the onset of her mother’s dementia). Personnel: Jodi Proznick (bass), Tilden Webb (piano), Steve Kaldestad (tenor saxophone), Jesse Cahill (drums) and Laila Biali (voice).

“Listen” from “Sun Songs”:

7) Quinsin Nachoff’s Flux “Path of Totality” 

In November 2018, saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff’s new album was released in Canada (world-wide release in February 2019). The overarching inspiration of the album was the moon’s total eclipse of the sun in 2017. The musicians on the album included saxophonist David Binney, pianist/keyboardist Matt Mitchell, drummers Kenny Wollesen and Nate Wood, plus a number of guest artists.

Below is the title track “Path of Totality”:

8) Matthew Stevens and Walter Smith III “In Common”

Released in October 2018, “In Common” is an album co-led by Matthew Stevens (Toronto-born, New York-based) and Walter Smith III. Personnel: Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Joel Ross (vibraphone), Harish Raghavan (double bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums)

“ACE” from the album “In Common”:

9) Allison Au Quartet “Wander Wonder”

The Allison Au Quartet recorded this album (released in November 2018) after completing a cross-Canada tour during the 2018 summer jazz festival season.

Personnel: Allison Au (alto saxophone), Todd Pentney (piano, Prophet Rev2), Jon Maharaj (bass, electric bass), Fabio Ragnelli (drums)

“The Rest is Up to You” from “Wander Wonder”:

10) Elizabeth Shepherd “Montreal”

In November 2018, Elizabeth Shepherd released her new album, “Montreal.” The songs were inspired by stories she gathered from countless interviews with strangers in Montreal over a four-year period. The project also includes a book, visual album and vinyl, which will be released in February 2019. Personnel: Elizabeth Shepherd (voice, keyboards / piano / samples / percussion), Francois Jalbert (guitar), Remi-Jean LeBlanc (bass), Mark Nelson and Rich Irwin (drums), Jacques Kuba-Seguin and Andy King (trumpet)

“Suits and Ties” from the album “Montreal”:


And don't forget to check out these other outstanding Canadian Jazz releases as well, as selected by Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah:

Larnell Lewis “In the Moment”

Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop “Abundance”

Myriad3 “Vera”

Adrean Farrugia & Joel Frahm “Blued Dharma”

Peripheral Vision “More Songs About Error and Shame”

Anthony Fung “Flashpoint”

No Codes “No Codes”

Samuel Blais “Equilibrium”

Bryn Roberts and Lage Lund “Hide the Moon and the Stars”

Stephanie Richards “Fullmoon”

Amy Cervini “No One Ever Tells You”

Ethan Ardelli Quartet “The Island of Form”

Robi Botos “Old Soul”

Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder “This World of Dew”

Peggy Lee “Echo Painting”

Way North “Fearless and Kind”

Sandro Dominelli “Here and Now (feat. Chris Tarry & Rez Abbasi)”

Remi-Jean Leblanc “Deductions”

Solon McDade "Murals"

Montuno West “Tocar Tambor”

Sanah Kadoura “Hawk Eyes”

Alex Lefaivre Quartet “YUL”

Josh Rager “Dreams and Other Stories”

Jeff LaRochelle “Lenses Extend”

Brodie West Quintet “Clips”

Jen Hodge All-Stars “All’s Fair in Love and Jazz”

Matt Dusk “JetSetJazz”

Barbra Lica “You’re Fine”

Laila Biali “Laila Biali”

Mark Godfrey “Prologue”

Sam Kirmayer “High And Low”

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tim Mah's Top Jazz Albums of 2018

CJSW radio host and frequent contributor to this blog, Tim Mah once again offers his favourite Jazz picks for 2018. Tim is the host of Jazz Today which can be heard on Thursday mornings in Calgary on 90.9 fm between 530 and 7am and over at www.cjsw.com (also podcasted over at Apple Music). Tim listens to a lot of new and current Jazz releases so I am always pleased to have him contribute this special guest blogspot with his informed choices. We'll also be featuring his picks for top Canadian Jazz albums later in the week.

So, without any further adieu, Four on the Floor is proud to present:

"Tim Mah's Top Jazz Albums of 2018"

Here’s a list of 100 jazz album recommendations, released from December 2017 to November 2018. The intent of this list is to help readers connect with new music from their favourite artists and discover new ones. Please refer to a future post featuring 2018 album recommendations from Canadian jazz artists.

1. Gilad Hekselman “Ask for Chaos”

This album features Gilad Hekselman’s two trios: Zuperoctave and GHex Trio.

Zuperoctave: Gilad Hekselman (guitar/bass), Aaron Parks (synths/Rhodes/piano) Kush Abadey (drums/pads)

GHex Trio: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Rick Rosato (bass), Jonathan Pinson (drums)

“VBlues” (featuring Zuperoctave)

2. Kenny Barron Quintet “Concentric Circles”

Personnel: Kenny Barron (piano), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass), Johnathan Blake (drums), Mike Rodriquez (trumpet and flugelhorn), Dayna Stephens (soprano and tenor saxophone)

“Concentric Circles”

3. Cecile McLorin Salvant “The Window”

Personnel: Cecile McLorin Salvant (voice), Sullivan Fortner (piano)

“The Gentleman is a Dope”

4. Esperanza Spalding “12 Little Spells” / “Exposure”

Esperanza Spalding released the limited edition (CD and vinyl only) album “Exposure” in December 2017 (written and recorded live on social media over 77 hours in September 2017). In October 2018, Esperanza Spalding released “12 Little Spells.” Each song is dedicated to a body part.

Musicians on “Exposure”: Esperanza Spalding (bass, vocals), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Ray Angry (piano, Mello-tron), Justin Tyson (drums), plus guests: Robert Glasper (piano), Lalah Hathaway (vocals) and Andrew Bird (violin, vocals).

Musicians on “12 Little Spells” included: Esperanza Spalding (vocals, piano, Wurlizter, electric bass, orchestral bass drum), Matthew Stevens (guitar, electric bass), Justin Tyson (drums, organ, synth, vocals, beats & programming), Aaron Burnett (saxophone), Burniss Travis (electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals), Corey King (vocals), Rob Schwimmer (continiuum), plus many others in the orchestra.

“You Have to Dance” from “12 Little Spells”

5. Makaya McCraven “Universal Beings”

Chicago-based drummer, Makaya McCraven’s third album features recordings with four different groups (in Chicago, New York, London and Los Angeles).

“Universal Beings” (featuring Jeff Partker, Anna Butterss, Josh Johnson, Carlos Nino, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson)

6. Aaron Parks “Little Big”

Personnel: Aaron Parks (piano, keyboards), Greg Tuohey (guitar), David Ginyard (bass), Tommy Crane (drums)

“Kid” from the album “Little Big”

7. Kamasi Washington “Heaven and Earth” / “The Choice”

Personnel: Kamasi Washington (tenor saxophone), Dontae Winslow (trumpet), Ryan Porter (trombone), Cameron Graves (piano), Brandon Coleman (keyboards, organ, vocoder), Miles Mosley (bass, electric bass), Ronald Bruner Jr. (drums), Tony Austin (drums, percussion), Allakoi Peete, Kahlil Cummings (percussion)

“Street Fighter Mas” from “Heaven and Earth”

8. Logan Richardson “Blues People”

Personnel: Logan Richardson (alto saxophone), Justus West (electric guitar, vocals), Igor Osypov (electric and acoustic guitars), DeAndre Manning (electric bass), Ryan Lee (drums)

NPR Music Tiny Desk concert featuring Logan Richardson

9. Stefon Harris & Blackout “Sonic Creed”

Personnel: Stefon Harris (vibraphone, marimba), Casey Benjamin (alto and soprano saxophones, vocoder), Felix Peikli (clarinet, bass clarinet), James Francies (piano, keyboards), Mike Moreno (guitar), Jean Baylor (vocals), Regina Carter (violin), Daniel Frankhuizen (cello), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), Joseph Doubleday (marimba), Joshua Crumbly (bass), Terreon Gully (drums), Pedrito Martinez (percussion).

Stefon Harris & Blackout concert (September 17, 2018 in New Orleans)

10. Edward Simon (with Afinidad and Imani Winds) “Sorrows & Triumphs”

Afinidad: Edward Simon (piano & keyboards), David Binney (alto saxophone), Scott Colley (bass), Brian Blade (drums) 

Imani Winds: Valerie Coleman (flute), Toyin Spellman-Diaz (oboe), Monica Ellis (bassoon), Mark Dover (clarinet), Jeff Scott (French horn)

Other musicians: Gretchen Parlato (vocals), Adam Rogers (guitars), Rogelio Boccato (percussion), Luis Quintero (percussion)

“Uninvited Thoughts” (featuring Afinidad and Imani Winds)

11. The Bad Plus “Never Stop II”

12. Ambrose Akinmusire “Origami Harvest”

13. Caroline Davis “Heart Tonic”

14. David Virelles “Igbo Alakorin (The Singer’s Grove) Vol. 1 & 2”

15. Helen Sung “Sung With Words”

16. Julian Lage “Modern Lore”

17. Mary Halvorson “Code Girl”

18. Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas - Sound Prints “Scandal”

19. Rudy Royston “Flatbed Buggy”

20. Cuong Vu 4-tet “Change in the Air”

21. Tia Fuller “Diamond Cut”

22. Joshua Redman “Still Dreaming”

23. Aaron Goldberg “At the Edge of the World”

24. Brad Mehldau “Seymour Reads the Constitution!”

25. John Escreet “Learn to Live”

26. David Murray “Blues for Memo”

27. Marquis Hill “Modern Flows, Vol. 2” and “Meditation Tape”

28. James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor “Radiant Imprints”

29. Darryl Yokley’s Sound Reformation “Portraits of an African Exhibition”

30. Dan Weiss “Starebaby”

31. Noam Wiesenberg “Roads Diverge”

32. Sons of Kemet “Your Queen is a Reptile”

33. Justin Brown “NYEUSI”

34. JD Allen “Love Stone”

35. Marc Cary “Cosmic Indigenous”

36. Ethan Iverson & Mark Turner “Temporary Kings”

37. Roxy Coss “The Future is Female”

38. Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz & Gary Versace “The Subject Tonight is Love”

39. Maria Grand “Magdalena”

40. Walking Distance feat. Jason Moran “Freebird”

41. Ray Angry “One”

42. R+R=Now “Collagically Speaking”

43. Bill Frisell “Music Is”

44. Chucho Valdes “Jazz Bata 2”

45. Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret “The Other Side of Air”

46. Shai Maestro “The Dream Thief”

47. Wolfgang Muthspiel “Where the River Goes”

48. Mast “Thelonious Sphere Monk”

49. Allison Miller & Carmen Staaf “Science Fair”

50. Nels Cline 4 “Currents, Constellations”

51. Tiffany Austin “Unbroken”

52. Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider “Dreamers”

52. Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life “People of the Sun”

53. Eric Harland “13thFloor”

54. E.J. Strickland Quintet “Warriors for Peace”

55. Kurt Elling “The Questions”

56. Kind Folk “Why Not”

57. Matt Penman “Good Question”

58. Now Vs Now “The Buffering Cocoon”

59. David Binney “Here & Now”

60. John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble “All Can Work”

61. Christian McBride “Christian McBride’s New Jawn”

62. Orrin Evans & the Captain Black Big Band “Presence”

63. Buster Williams “Audacity”

64. Stu Mindeman “Woven Threads”

65. Miguel Zenon “Yo Soy La Tradicion (feat. Spektral Quartet)

66. Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days “El Maquech”

67. Wayne Shorter “Emanon”

68. Christian Sands “Facing Dragons”

69. Mark Kavuma “Kavuma”

70. Kat Edmonson “Old Fashioned Gal”

71. Bobby Previte “Rhapsosdy”

72. Dafnis Prieto Big Band “Back to the Sunset”

73. Shamie Royston “Beautiful Liar”

74. Eddie Henderson “Be Cool”

75. Walter Smith III “Twio”

76. Sharel Cassity “Evolve”

77. Chick Corea & Steve Gadd “Chinese Butterfly”

78. Henry Threadgill & 14 or 15 Kestra: AGG “Dirt…And More Dirt”

79. Jonathan Finlayson “3 Times Round”

80. Devin Gray “Dirigo Rataplan”

81. James Francies “Flight”

82. John Raymond & Real Feels “Joy Ride”

83. Emma Frank “Ocean Av”

84. Various Artists “We Out Here”

85. Bob Reynolds “Quartet”

86. Jonathan Barber “Vision Ahead”

87. Sara Serpa “Close Up”

88. Black Art Jazz Collective “Armor of Pride”

89. Sarathy Korwar “My East is Your West (feat. Upaj Collective)”

90. Jamie Saft Quartet “Blue Dreams”

91. Chad Taylor “Myths and Morals”

92. Gogo Penguin “A Humdrum Star”

93. McClenty Hunter “The Groove Hunter”

94. Spanish Harlem Orchestra “Anniversary”

95. Dinosaur “Wonder Trail”

96. Phronesis “We Are All”

97. Kamaal Williams “The Return”

98. Jason Marsalis & the 21stCentury Trad Band “Melody Reimagined: Book 1”

99. Humanity Quartet “Humanity”

100. Lee Konitz & Dan Tepfer “Decade”

Friday, December 21, 2018

xmas brushes

Just a short little clip today of me playing the brushes, from yesterday's very VERY early morning gig, a live-to-air radio broadcast on CBC Calgary with Tim Tamashiro:

I only brought a snare drum and pair of brushes for this morning gig and I drank a lot of coffee. Lots and LOTS of coffee...

Monday, December 17, 2018

Tain @ Bimhuis

From a recent hit at Amsterdam's Bimhuis, one of the greatest Jazz venues in the world today, here's some great Jeff "Tain" Watts in action with his trio featuring Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Karl Jannuska: "On the Brighter Side"

When I arrived on the doorsteps of McGill University in Montreal during the mid-1990s, it was a very good time to be studying Jazz drums at that school. In addition to the stellar drum faculty of Chris McCann, Dave Laing, Andre White and Michel Lambert, the other students who were also studying there at the time set the bar very high for us incoming freshmen. One of those drummers I looked up to was undoubtedly Karl Jannuska, originally from Brandon, Manitoba and now a resident of Paris, France (*I would also include the likes of Jesse Cahill, Rich Irwin and, a few years later, Jim Doxas and Greg Ritchie in that same crop, among others....)

Karl's innate musicality was evident from the first time I heard him play (incidentally at a now long-gone Jazz club in Regina, Saskatchewan called Cafe '97, backing up trumpeter Dave Mossing and pianist Tilden Webb). A tremendous musician, he's is also one of the few drummers out there who, in my opinion, really transcends the drums in terms of his musical choices. Karl is ALL ears, ALL the time and I am always inspired and impressed by the creative musicality he exhibits from behind the drum set. He's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Karl has been in Paris, France for over a decade now and is in high demand for his drumming. In his spare time (!) he has also found time to compose and produce his own music. His album "On The Brighter Side" is his most recent sonic offering. Learn more about Karl and his music over at his website: http://www.karljannuska.com

Karl was also nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions about his most recent project:

Karl Jannuska - Four on the Floor Interview December 2018

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

"On The Brighter Side" is my sixth recording as a leader. I wrote all of the music and lyrics interpreted by a fantastic young French singer named Cynthia Abraham. I started this album pretty much at the same time as my last one, "Midseason", about 3-4 years ago. Each instrument was recorded separately which is a time consuming process but one that allowed me to really focus in on the sound and nuances of each new element being added to the mix. In September and October 2017 I took Protools lessons and this album reflects some techniques that I learned. I spent a great deal of time at the computer, looking for sounds, manipulating the sounds of different instruments, editing, moving notes around and generally exploring the post production possibilities of the studio. That said, I made a conscious attempt to not try to "clean" everything and make it to polished sounding. I wanted to still make it feel alive. When asked to categorize this music I have a lot of trouble and like to avoid putting it in a box. I think it's a pretty unique blend of jazz and alternative music (which is just as wide a category as jazz...). For lack of a better term, I often call it "Indie Jazz".

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

When I started recording "Midseason" I went into the studio a few times and recorded drum parts to a lot of songs - more than could fit on one album. In a way, some of the material on this new recording are the leftovers from "Midseason"! They were songs that I really liked though... I'm someone who composes on a regular basis. I don't wait to have a project to write for. I just compose because it's something I enjoy and is a big part of who I am as a musician. To complete the album, I somehow chose some other songs of mine to record - songs that complemented the other ones and songs that I had written lyrics to. I was actually worried that this album wouldn't be coherent as I didn't give too much thought to the overall picture beforehand. I just started recording songs. Now that it's done, it seems like it's all a part of the same universe. Part of that is due to having the voice of Cynthia as a common thread. This leads me to the next part of the question! I met Cynthia about four years ago as I was looking for a singer in Paris to work with. I worked for a long time with Sienna Dahlen (from Toronto) which was wonderful but the distance became an issue. We did a rehearsal together and I knew within about ten minutes that I had found the right singer for my band. The other sidemen are mostly musicians that I'd worked with before : Pierre Perchaud (guitar) appears on several of my records. The other guitar player, Federico Casagrande is new to my music but we've been friends for a long time. In my live band I use both guitar players and they really complement each other nicely. Tony Paeleman is someone who had a huge role in this. He plays all of the keyboards and he mixed and mastered the album. We play together in a bunch of different bands and are part of the same musical family. Seamus Blake appears on two tracks although, I have a confession to make, I took a lot of post-production liberties with the music he recorded. I would also like to mention Baptiste Germser who plays french horn, bass and keyboards. We had a lot of fun in his home studio searching for different sounds and exploring the possibilities of the studio (check out the end of Parsimony to get an idea). A friend of mine recommended him to me and we hit it off right away. There are ten other musicians that appear on this recording. Most of them I've known for a while but there were some nice musical meetings such as Baptiste.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

I tried to let myself be guided by the phrase "do what's right for the song". Basically each song has a different instrumentation. There's even one song with no drums - odd for a drummer's record! As for the vibe, that just came naturally when I followed what each song needed. I've really enjoyed having vocals on my music for the past few records. It just seems natural.

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

Not really. To be honest, I didn't give any thought to how this music would be perceived while I was recording it. While writing a description of my music for a presentation, I said that, if my music could have one super power it would be the power of levitation. It's not a message but a sense of floating away is the effect I'd like my music to have.

5) Who are your influences with regards to this style of writing and playing?

The bands I've been listening to recently are Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof, Radiohead, Syd Matters, The Barr Brothers, Bjork, Kurt and Chris Weisman. I don't think this music sounds like any of them but those are some groups that have influenced me recently.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

Well, I've been listening to the bands I mentioned above, plus I spend a lot of time listening to the repertoires of the musicians I play with in Paris. Most are not known outside of France. I don't practice that much anymore. I have almost as much technique as I would like to have. When I do practice it's just to keep my hands and feet in shape and to have fun exploring different grooves - some of which become drum parts for new songs. For me, working on a new album and having input from the musicians I play with. Also, digging deeper into the possibilities of the studios and learning the program Protools is something that interests me more than working on playing faster or more complex things on the drums.

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

I'm a part of the band called The Watershed with Tony Paeleman (keyboards), Pierre Perchaud (guitar) and Christophe Panzani (saxophones). It's all improvised music (though we like to call it spontaneous composition). We just had a tour in Mexico in September and it was amazing. These guys are fantastic musicians and we never seem to run out of ideas! Check out www.thewatershed.fr for more info. Together we've started the Shed Music label which is the label that "On The Brighter Side" is on. Aside from that, I'm an active member of about ten bands. Never a dull moment!

8) How do the drums and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

Some songs have been written around specific drum grooves. "On The Brighter Side" is a good example. One exercise I work on with drummers is playing a steady stream of 8th notes around the drums leaving occasional breaths in the line (half random, half controlled). Listening back to my song "I'll Find You" where there are three different takes of drums layered on each other, I can really hear how this exercise is directly linked to my music. I'm sure someone like Sherlock Holmes would listen to my music and sense that it was written by a drummer. The drumming isn't showy or demonstrative I think but the drums are up pretty high in the mix and, even if it's hard to put into words, it's innate in the music I write.

9) What drummers (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

Where do I begin??? Brian Blade is a big influence. He's versatile and has the whole spectrum of being a sensitive accompanist to roaring and bringing the fire to the music. Joey Baron is big too. Again, very versatile. Really fun to watch as he just looks like a kid exploring the sounds of the instrument. Deep groove. Jeff Ballard has this really percussive thing that I love. I've been listening to him for years and it always seems fresh. He's one of the few drummers that I don't hear a lot of younger people imitating. He's really got a unique approach. In another style Greg Saunier from the band Deerhoof blows me away. He's got an incredible time feel - very elastic. I've seen the band live about five or six times and he's into the music completely. He's also a really great composer.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians?

Don't do it halfway. 
Be curious. 
Listen to everything and play with as many different musicians as you can. 
Leave all of your doors open. 
Really listen to music. 
Put your phone down and really listen to what's going on. 
When the record is done, listen to it again. You'll hear new things you missed the first time. 
If you love what you're doing, you'll manage and you can make a career out of this but only if you're willing to devote yourself to it fully.
Practice a lot but don't forget to live. It's a balancing act - as is life. 

As you get further along in your study of music you may lose sight of the joy you got from playing your instrument for the first few times. Don't forget how that felt and try to keep that spark alive.
It's precious. 

Also, don't forget to breathe!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Jeff Sipe: "Rhythm Patterns for Drum Set"

I came across this wonderful new book by Jeff Sipe via the Facebook and have really been learning a lot from it. If you're not familiar with Jeff Sipe, he is a prolific Master of rhythm and I really dig and admire the eclectic forms of music he plays and his approach to dealing with rhythm on the drum set.

Learn more about Jeff's music here jeffsipe.bandcamp.com and visit his website to order a copy of his wonderful new book here: jeffsipemusic.com

Jeff was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his new book (which I highly recommend):

Jeff Sipe - Four on the Floor Interview: December 2018

1) Tell us all about your new book! What is it all about and what are the goals of your text?

RHYTHM PATTERNS FOR DRUM SET delivers a comprehensive collection of rhythmic concepts, references and adventures inspired from decades of drumming in many styles including fusion, jazz, rock, and jam band improv.

With over 100 pages of original lessons, exercises and resources, this book is an essential reference for any musician seeking to deepen their understanding of time and rhythm and apply it with individual expression. The second half of the book is designed for drummers of all levels and styles; and through its library of fundamental stickings, note groupings, and many styles of drum set patterns offers the student potential for profound technical and conceptual development.

2) What was the motivation and inspiration for putting together this method?

The original motivation for the book was to compile my many notes and exercises that I wrote for myself to practice, all in one complete volume. They included beats, patterns and permutations and philosophy that I thought were helpful to me in my personal growth as an aspiring drummer. It kept growing so realized it could be helpful to share it as a book.

3) How does your book differ from other drumming books currently on the market? What makes it unique?

This book is intended to be a reference book and a source of rhythmic patterns and phrasing available to drummers and all musicians. This contemporary collection of rhythmic studies focuses on the practical part of the vastly larger thesaurus of rhythms.
The basic patterns presented here can be combined to form thousands of very useful hybrid patterns. Once the student has practiced and integrated these patterns, they can recombine them and create hybrid patterns that will increase their personal rhythmic vocabulary.
The first portion of this book is intended for all musicians. It provides a compilation of patterns and permutations based on basic rhythm systems and their possible combinations.

The second half of this book introduces practical drum beats using some of the patterns learned previously. The student is invited to apply and embellish these patterns in order to develop their own individual rhythmic vocabulary.

• Chapter 1: Provides the philosophy and food for thought when considering music making and how to practice and perform.

• Chapter 2: "Time" provides the framework for understanding note subdivisions applied in time.

• Chapter 3: "Right and Left Hand Patterns" is a series of practical “stickings” for easy execution of any multiple note grouping, large or small.

• Chapter 4: "Rhythm & Phrasing" is for all musicians. The content can be applied to melodic and harmonic playing on any instrument.

• Chapter 5: "Drum Set Patterns" gets the limbs working in coordination with each other. Starting with the feet and working up to the hands, the drummer will become comfortable with the foundational patterns that apply to beats and styles.

• Chapter 6: "Drum Beats and Styles" introduces basic drum beat patterns and variations that recombine into longer and more intricate beats. Examples of styles include: simple down beat/back beat patterns, various back beat grooves, shuffles and half-time shuffles, African grooves, and Classic drum beats

• Chapter 7: "Odd-Time Grooves" presents an introduction to odd-time grooves in 3/4, 5/4 and 7/4 time.
4) How do you recommend students and teachers approach working through your materials?

As this volume is a collection of studies, the teacher/student can find whatever interests them and start there. The book is laid out so that a beginner can read cover to cover and flow from philosophy to understanding time and notation to basic patterns and their practical applications, to permutations of those patterns, into established cultural rhythms, into multi-limb coordination, into drum set beats and styles. Some of these notation exercises are complete systems, leaving nothing undone so that all possibilities are explored.

5) What are some of the challenges of putting together a drum method book? What advice do you have for anybody potentially interested in publishing their own book?

Writing and publishing your own book is a great way to understand your own philosophy and your own limitations. My advice is to write constantly and work with an editor whom you trust. They will help you communicate your ideas clearly.

6) Who are your influences with regards to your own style of playing music and drumming? What drummers (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

I am influenced by thinkers and musicians who are careful with their craft and who have a personal approach. All the great musicians have this in common. The list is long. Everyone from John Prine to John Coltrane!

7) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

These days I practice my book and practice the fundamentals (including metronome exercises). Also listening to everything that comes along. I’m blessed to have friends who are among the best and they keep me on my toes!

8) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I’m recording with Sarah Siskind, Mike Seal, Warren Haynes and other musicians in my area. I have a band called State Birds that includes Mike Seal, Neal Fountain and Bryan Lopes. Also playing with Danny Barnes' Space Program. Kaizen is a trio with Mike Barnes and Mark McDaniel. We play monthly in Nashville.

9) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring drummers and musicians?

Be on the scene. Be helpful.
Create opportunities for yourself and others.
Check your intentions and be true to yourself.
All things pass so be present and enjoy the time that you have!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

More Jerry Gonzalez....

Even more amazing conga videos today from Jerry Gonzalez featuring Steve Berrios on drums. Again, lots of great, basic techniques to be found here and a great companion to follow-up from Monday's post.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Jerry Gonzalez: "Conga Mania"

Sometimes it's really amazing where an internet search for some obscure Jazz drumming resource turns up something unexpected and equally quite amazing instead...

I was very fortunate to hear trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez (who recently passed away back in October) & The Fort Apache band at the Sweet Basil in New York City, back in the year 2000. I had just finished auditioning for John Riley at the Manhattan School of Music and then raced down to Greenwich Village to catch this legendary band (including Steve Berrios on drums). I was blown away by their high intensity music and style of Latin Jazz which seamlessly and very cleverly blended the two genres together of Afro-Cuban music and straight-ahead Jazz.

I was very interested to learn that apparently Jeff "Tain" Watts had sought out the drummer with Fort Apache, Steve Berrios, to learn about authentic applications of Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms to the drum set. It's safe to say that Tain has really checked this stuff out over the years and this is evident in his playing.

Anyways, apparently Berrios also produced an instructional VHS video back in the early 1990s on applying Latin rhythms to the drum set. I haven't had any luck finding a copy of this (hence my internet search...) BUT I did come across this Jerry Gonzalez conga video (from the same instructional series) which also features Steve Berrios on drums. Not only was a Gonzalez a Master trumpet player in the Latin Jazz genre but a Master conguero as well.

So now stop, listen and learn as there is a TON of great information here: