Monday, May 27, 2019

Kenny Clarke - "On the Alamo"

Some great footage that I hadn't seen before of Klook with the Martial Solal trio from 1958 featuring Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet:

This is a great opportunity to check out Klook's left hand and comping. In particular, dig how Clarke often digs into the quarter notes on the snare drum and the stick/brushes combination near the end.

And also...from Jazz Profiles, a wonderful, recent article on the legacy of Kenny Clarke.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Four on the Floor t-shirts

As promised, my limited edition Four on the Floor 10th Anniversary t-shirts are now available!

Thanks again to the Grand Master Cymbalholic himself, Mr. Chad Anderson, for offering this very hip logo for my blog and t-shirt design.

These shirts are now available in medium, large and x-large sizes and are lightweight premium fitted 100% cotton tees.

The shirts are $30 each (+shipping)

If you are interested in purchasing one, please drop me a line asap at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com or reach me through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and I'll set you up pronto.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Eric Binder: "An Introduction to Bebop Drumming"

On the heels of his other recent book release "10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation" Eric Binder has recently self-published another excellent book, this time specifically addressing the genre of Bebop drumming.

Eric was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest offering.

Eric Binder - The Four on the Floor Interview
"An Introduction to Bebop Drumming: A Concise Historical Overview and Practical Exercises"

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

This is a traditional 6x9 paperback book (which is unlike most drum methods); it is easy to carry around and reference. It combines historical material with exercises intended to introduce readers to Bebop. The main objective with this project is to clearly demonstrate that Bebop is a very specific style and genre that is separate from Hard Bop. Far too often the years between the Swing era and the Post-Bop years (1960 and later) get called “Bop”. It worries me when Tony Williams and Elvin Jones are called Bebop drummers. The truth of it is, most drummers (and musicians) don’t know the difference. I aim to identify what is special about Bebop and the drumming style.

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

My motivation for this book was the term “Bop” being used to categorize all music that wasn’t Swing and wasn’t Post-Bop. Those folks calling Tony and Elvin Bebop drummers really motivated me (haha).

3) How does your book differ from other method books that deal with Jazz (or bebop) drumming? What makes it unique?

Truthfully, I don’t think there are any TRUE Bebop drumming books on the market today. There are books that touch on the drumming style, but don’t identify it as an entity of its own; it’s always “Bop” drumming. My book also provides background on where Bebop came from which is so important to understand. This book is unique in that there is a good amount of history, but also relevant playing exercises and a discography. In my opinion, it is a wonderful reference for all drummers, musicians, and educators.

4) How is your subject matter organized and presented?

The book starts with a concise but informative history on Swing and Bebop music, and drumming. The reader will learn where and how Bebop started and how the drumming evolved. After the history section, there is a large portion of exercises that cover everything from technique, rudiments, comping, melody, and more. The last section is a discography section of Swing and Bebop drummers, and other musicians.

5) Why is it important for drummers to study bebop drumming?

Bebop music created a whole new vocabulary that is still relevant today.The drumming style that was developed through the innovations of Bebop was the beginning of what we know as modern drumming. The way we play “time” on the ride cymbal, the way we play ideas between our 4 limbs, this all started because of Bebop.

6) Do you have any plans for any further books, dealing with other specific styles of Jazz drumming

The next book I am going to release is something I’ve been working on for a while. It is a technique book that is meant for students to use to gain the facility and technique necessary improvise freely. I’m a huge believer in practicing to gain the facility to play freely, rather than work on ideas that you place randomly. What you play should be based off of what is going on in the music, not what you planned on playing (but that’s a whole other discussion). As for books on specific styles, I would eventually like to do Hard Bop and Post-Bop versions. 


To purchase Eric's book visit his website: https://ericbinder.bigcartel.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Inside the Musician's Mind with Matt Wilson

A wonderful interview with the ever imaginative and inspiring Matt Wilson courtesy of the nice folks over at the Port Washington Public Library:

And here's a fun clip of Matt in action, performing a clever drum solo improvisation over the Carl Sandburg spoken poem "Fog" from his "Honey & Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg" project (highly recommended!):

I was very fortunate to study with Matt Wilson in New York City back in 2004 thanks to a project grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I have many very fond memories of my time working together with Matt, mostly in the basement of his home in Baldwin, New York.

We spent hours talking about music and the drums. I was also very fortunate to follow him around with his band too, whether they were playing in a famous New York City Jazz club or a school gymnasium packed full of students. Hanging and learning from Matt was "all music, all the time" and there's not a day that goes by that I don't consider some aspect of our lessons together.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Evelyn Glennie Solo

Thank you to Calgary's Jim Johnston who unearthed this cool little piece, featuring Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie, improvising on a multiple-percussion set-up:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Andrew Cyrille Solo

Andrew Cyrille isn't a drummer that I'm nearly familiar with but I've been reading Val Wilmer's book "As Serious as Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977" and this has prompted me to check out some drummers and listen to some new music lately.

Cyrille is, of course, a prolific artist and I am fascinated by his approach to rhythm and orchestration around the drum set. I also really enjoyed this up-close and personal solo performance:

Of course, watching this one led me down a YouTube rabbit hole last night and I discovered this 1969 solo recording of Cyrille:

And then there's this dynamic duo album from 1974 featuring Andrew Cyrille and Milford Graves:

I would also recommend checking out these interviews with this unique, creative mind:

- And extensive interview with Ted Panken

- A two-part series from Jazz Times magazine Part 1 Part 2

- A feature from the New York Times from Nate Chinen

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, we're well into Spring here but you'd hardly know it where I live, given all the snow that keeps on lingering about (well I suppose it IS Canada after all, eh?) Anyhow, let's not let the weather get us down and instead focus on all the cool things that our hard working correspondents in the Four on the Floor office have compiled for us to check out this month:

- A spotlight on Baby Dodds & Zutty Singleton from Jazz Profiles.

- An audio interview with the great Billy Higgins from Heidi Chang.

- From Jazz Times magazine, Joe Lovano speaks about his favourite Paul Motian recordings:

- The Mel Lewis radio interviews are legendary and required listening for anyone serious about the study of Jazz drumming. And here they are compiled for your listening and educational pleasure.

And also an interview with Mel Lewis by Loren Schoenberg.

*Loren has also posted a number of Mel's radio interviews, featuring various different drummers, on YouTube. I'll get to those later!*

- George Marsh featured over at the Drummer's Weekly Groovecast.

- A nice drum solo introduction from Johnathan Blake from a recent hit at Smalls:

Also, an older, but great piece from 2012 on Blake from NPR.

Oh yes, and don't forget to check out Johnathan's amazing new album "Trion" with Chris Potter and Linda Oh: https://johnathanblake1.bandcamp.com/releases

- Montreal drummer and McGill Jazz professor Andre White was a huge influence on me during the 90s while I was living and studying in Montreal (he still is in fact and I often think about his approach to the drums and musicianship...) Not sure where this one came from, but here's some grainy footage of White swinging nicely on a rhythm changes:

- Kendrick Scott also has an amazing new album release on Blue Note. Hear Scott's thoughts on his new music here.

- Jerome Jennings is a hard working drummer who's work ethic and attitude I greatly admire. Here's a cool drum solo piece of his entitled "Heart":

- Carl Allen is one of the busiest drummers on the scene today and I often reflect on my lessons with him, back in the early 2000s.

Here's a couple of interviews with Allen to check out:

- The ever musical Tina Raymond via The Working Drummer podcast:

- Ralph Peterson Jr. featured on the Meinl Cymbals Radio Podcast:

- Here's Keith Hall with a great ride cymbal lesson from his new YouTube lesson series:

- What am I listening to these days?

Keith Jarrett "Standards Live" - Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Bernie Senensky Septet "Re:Action" - Barry Elmes (drums)

Wayne Shorter "Speak No Evil" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Chick Corea "Trio Music - Live in Europe" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Elvin Jones "The Complete Blue Note Recordings" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Paul Chambers "The Complete Blue Note Recordings" - Philly Joe Jones/Elvin Jones/Art Blakey/Art Taylor (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to the ever wise and swinging Joe Farnsworth (pay attention!):

"Must come from inside you. Like breathing. It has got to be the base from which all your drumming stems. Your quarter note. Not Elvin's. Not Higgins'. Not metronome. Not Red Garland trio. That quarter note must always be there. Start with just cymbal. Slow. Breathe. Make it smooth. Then add bass drum. Then hi-hat. Then snare quarters. Make it all one sound. It's mostly mental practice and sound. Your mind and body must have this down without thinking. Like breathing." - Joe Farnsworth (via Paul Lacotta on the Facebook)

Well, that's all I've got for now. Thanks again for checking in and see you in a minute. Until then, keep swingin' as always!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Susie Ibarra Solo

Some inspiring and creative solo drum and percussion work from Susie Ibarra:

The idea of presenting a concert of solo drum set & percussion music is one that has interested me and captivated my imagination for some time. I've played solo pieces before in the context of a concert with a full-band, but never really an entire concert on my own (not a successful one anyways!) Performances such as this from the likes of Ibarra (and others, such as Joey Baron, Gerry Hemingway, Antonio Sanchez and Ted Warren come to mind) are great examples of how to sustain musical percussive interest over extended periods of time without resorting to drum pyrotechnics or pointless demonstrations of chops and speed.

Actually, now that I think of it, I did actually try this once...during bassist Joel Kerr's "Fat Lamb" Music Festival during the summer of 2000 in Regina, Saskatchewan (incidentally being held across the street from the "Flat Land" Festival being held in Victoria Park!) I remember that I jumped on the opportunity when Joel asked me to fill a set for his nightly ad hoc improvised music festival (at the time Joel and I were touring with the critically acclaimed musical touring act "Saskatchewan Express").

However, I didn't really put any thought into it and basically just hit the drums for an hour straight with no attention to any musical structure, organization or musical development. There was a reasonable crowd present when I started my set and about 3/4 of the audience had left once I was finished an hour later. Perhaps some of the drummers in audience appreciated what I did but I imagine that most people in the audience probably got bored (in fact, I distinctly remember how bored that I personally felt about 10 minutes into the whole thing!) In terms of being a musically responsible solo Jazz drummer that evening, I would have given myself a solid of grade of F.

In retrospect perhaps that's a bit harsh but I do wish I had put more attention and pre-planning into how I structured my performance and I wish I had framed it on a more musical level as opposed to a random "drumming" one. It was certainly a learning experience and one that (even almost 20 years later!) I hope to revisit in the future...