Monday, April 29, 2019

Steve Gadd Plays Flams

Some fun footage today of Steve Gadd demonstrating some rudiments and how he applies them in creative/musical ways around the drum set:

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Art of Jeff Ballard

Thanks to the nice folks over at Jazzcampus Basel in Switzerland, here's an informative interview with modern Jazz great Jeff Ballard:

And another one from the archives, a great interview with Ballard thanks to George Colligan over at JazzTruth: http://jazztruth.blogspot.com/2012/06/jeff-ballard-interview.html

Monday, April 15, 2019

Chris Smith - The Drum Hang Vol. 5

It's been a minute since we've caught up with Chris Smith and his awesome series The Drum Hang. As always, Chris has put together many wonderful and insightful episodes with a ton of great information, covering all sorts of important aspects related to Jazz drumming. Take some time to check these out and learn something:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Four on the Floor 10th Anniversary

I'm happy to announce that today marks the 10th anniversary of Four on the Floor!

I started this blog on April 11th, 2009 in my apartment while still living in Toronto shortly before I returned to Calgary (where I've been living for the past 10 years).

I created Four on the Floor for numerous reasons: First and foremost, I was in the middle of studying for my candidacy exam towards my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto that spring and what better way to procrastinate and be counterproductive than by starting an on-line blog??? But in all seriousness, my reasons were actually far more specific (in addition to the convenience of a worthy distraction!)

I've always loved sharing my passion for Jazz drumming with anyone who's interested to hear me out and give me a few minutes of their time. I also consider myself a bit of a musical detective and, to a certain extent, a self-professed Jazz drumming "curator". Personally I get quite excited whenever I discover a cool youtube.com video, an illuminating article/interview or any obscure piece of information that I consider to be a little gem related to the art of Jazz drumming. For awhile I would send out a mass email to my select friends and colleagues, sharing whatever recent discovery that inspired me. I know that some people really appreciated this while some others just considered it to be spam, clogging up their inbox Lol.

However, I was also very inspired by the likes of bloggers Ronan Guilfoyle, Peter Hum, Ethan Iverson, Jesse Cahill, Todd Bishop, Ted Warren and Darcy James Argue (among many others), all of whom maintained excellent blogs and all had great information to share in their respective realms of Jazz music. These examples all inspired me to consider posting my various Jazz drumming finds on my own public, on-line platform.

Most significantly, however, was Chad Anderson's tireless work (along with his partner Patrice) in creating and maintaining the web forum Cymbalholic  www.cymbalholic.com which remains one of the beacons in the on-line Jazz drumming community. This forum was a significant motivation for me to do my own thing as well. I first joined this awesome web forum in 2005 and consider it to be an invaluable and informative resource and a wonderful community for anyone who loves cymbals, drums and Jazz drumming.

My intention with Four on the Floor has always been to share various things related to Jazz drumming that inspire me about the art form. Furthermore, I hope that my posts interest other people as much as they excite me and it's my goal to continue to share this information for all to enjoy. At the end of the day, Four on the Floor is my small contribution to making the Jazz drumming community a better place by celebrating all the great things that have come before us, the great things happening today and all the great things we have to look forward to in the future. It's been a really fun ride so far and I sure appreciate all the connections I've made with drummers from all over the world.

Here's a quick shout out to some people who have encouraged me to keep this blog going over the past decade:

Chad Anderson
Adam Nussbaum
John Riley
Matt Wilson
Joe LaBarbera
Jeff Cosgrove
Ted Warren
Conor Guilfoyle
Scott K Fish
Tim Mah

To them, to the many, many others too (you know who you are!) and to all my readers out there I say this: THANK YOU!

Thanks again for all your continued support and here's to another fun ten years of blogging at Four on the Floor!

Onwards & Upwards

Jon McCaslin

Four on the Floor

btw - Hey check out this great unreleased recording of Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins playing as a duet from 1993:

And I almost forgot...to celebrate Four on the Floor's 10th anniversary I will be printing a limited number of commemorative t-shirts (yes, for real!) featuring our hip logo (designed by none other than the Grand Master Cymbalholic himself, Chad Anderson!)

Specific ordering information and details will be made available shortly so please be patient while I sort this out. Shoot me an email at: fouronthefloorblog@gmail and I can keep you updated on what will surely be the fashion trend of the year.

Hurry! Buy now while supplies last!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Igor Willcox

Brazilian drummer, composer and band leader Igor Willcox and his band are touring Canada in April and performing in Calgary on Thursday, April 25th at BuckingJam Palace, Calgary's coolest and hippest new Jazz venue. Learn more about this performance here: www.buckingjampalace.com

In the meantime, Igor was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and his music in advance of their Canadian tour.

Igor Willcox - Four on the Floor Interview April 2019

1) Tell us about your latest recording and touring project!

My last recording is the album Igor Willcox Quartet “Live", released last year (2018). This album features compositions from my first album, released in 2017 and recorded in the studio, plus some tribute songs. This album has received a lot of good reviews in important jazz websites such as All About Jazz.

My touring project, the Igor Willcox Quartet, is a group that I assembled to play the compositions of my first CD, which features original songs. I started this group when I was in the composing process. I called my great friends and amazing musicians Vini Morales (keys), Glecio Nascimento (bass) and Wagner Barbosa (saxophone) to join the group.

We played in the most important Jazz festivals and clubs in Brazil and now we have the happiness to make our first Canadian Tour. Soon after this tour, we will be departing to Europe to play at the North City Jazz Festival, one of the most important jazz festivals of eastern Europe, in Kosovo, on May 18th of 2019.

This project has 3 years of existence and this year we will record a new album with original compositions by myself, Wagner, Vini, and Glecio. Some of these tunes we will be debuting in the Canadian Tour.

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

I gave preference to play our original compositions, but there are some tunes that we have chosen in tribute to our great influences, such as Herbie Hancock, Allan Holdsworth, Joe Henderson, etc. Regarding the musicians, I have chosen people who I identify musically and personally with. Despite the group having my name, I don’t consider the musicians as sidemen, because they are very active in the group and we make decisions together about the arrangements of the songs. I also try to let them be free to express themselves musically. We are a unity!

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

I have always liked listening and also playing with this kind of quartet formation. It allows me to compose in a very creative way, leaving a lot of room for the musicians improvisations. I feel that our interaction is also very constant, we are always talking musically during the sound and it sounds very synergistic.

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

Yes, that the music is a universal language and we try to transmit this in our music. We are always looking for a musical dialogue during the sound, listening to each other and interacting.

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

There a lot, but some of my big influences are: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Return To Forever, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul.

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

I divided my routine in two ways: Practice piano and drums

- On the piano, I’m currently studying harmony, technique, not with the proposal to play, but to help me in the composition process.

- On the drums: I study everyday exercises for my hands such as the book Master Studies by Joe Morello. I love this book and there are a lot of ways to study it. I study also some new rhythms, coordination stuff focused on things that I have to improve on.

About listening, I’m always listening to all kind of good music, I love to discover new sounds and this influences the music I make.

Today, while I’m answering your questions, I am listening to Uri Caine "Bedrock".

But in the past, I also listened to Joe Zawinul, Allan Pasqua, Sixun, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams Lifetime, Bartok, etc.

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

There is no other current project besides the quartet because I’m totally focused on this project. A lot of good things are happening and I want to be 100% dedicated to the band. I also play and record with artists here in Brazil, from Jazz to pop, but they are not my personal projects, but it’s part of my work as a sideman. That I enjoy a lot as well!

On the go: I have plans to record a new album around July/August

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

The drums influences a lot in my compositions. Often, I use some rhythmic ideas to start a composition, before making melodies and harmony. I love to use polyrhythms, beat displacements, etc.

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

A lot of drummers and musicians, but I will try to list my main influences:

Drummers: Tony Williams, Gary Husband, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Novak, Vinnie Colaiuta, Elvin Jones, Bill Stewart, Robertinho Silva, Adam Nussbaum, Lenny White, Will Kennedy, Billy Cobham, etc…

Other musicians: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Allan Holdsworth, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Joshua Redman, Keith Jarret, Allan Pasqua, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, etc...

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

Have always open mind to listen to many different kind of Jazz styles, from the traditional Jazz to fusion. It will give you a deep knowledge and understanding about Jazz.

Try always to play in favor of the music, I mean, think musically, listen to the soloists, the melodies, the harmonies, pay attention to the environment, interact with the musicians you are playing. Live the music every day as if it is part of your life! 


Here's a preview of Willcox and his quartet:

To learn more about Brazilian drummer Igor Willcox and his music, visit his website www.igorwillcox.com

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ed Thigpen on Brushes

A nice piece of brush history, that I haven't seen in awhile, with the legendary Ed Thigpen:

Thigpen's book "The Sound of Brushes" was an important introduction to the world of brush playing for me when I first started out and, needless to say, the man knows a thing or two about playing the brushes!

I had a brief encounter with Thigpen at the 1995 IAJE Conference in Anaheim, California when I was about 18 years old. Ed was manning the Remo booth in the convention hall and minding his own business on a snare drum with a pair of brushes while people walked by. I summoned enough courage to introduce myself and he was very gracious, humble and even offered me a quick two-minute brush lesson. Of course, this all came to a grinding halt as Dave Weckl walked by and Ed lept out of his chair to say hi to Dave!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jeff Ballard en Suisse

A very, very, very VERY special thank you and shout out to Kuert over at cymbalholic.com who was thoughtful enough to capture, post and share his recent hang with Jeff Ballard, shown here playing some really nice cymbals (this is definitely NO joke, ya dig?):

The world really needs MORE of this kind of thing...