Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Drummer's Guide to the 2019 JazzYYC Canadian Jazz Festival

The annual JazzYYC Canadian Jazz Festival runs November 6-10, in various venues across the city of Calgary. There is lots of great Canadian Jazz music happening next week and, in particular, many great drummers to check out too.

So on that note, here's my list of several not-to-be-missed shows to attend and the great drummers that will be performing in the coming week:

- Drummer Jeff Sulima & the Redline Trio have been performing regularly at Betty Lou's Library every Thursday night for the past couple of years now. Recent concerts have also featured this well-oiled group with the likes of pianist/composer David Braid and bassist Brandi Disterheft. They even have a new recording coming out soon!

You'll have plenty of opportunities to hear Uncle Jeff and this trio (co-led by saxophonist Mark DeJong) during this year's festival. They'll be hosting the Kawa Jazz jam on the afternoon of Saturday, November 9th 3-6pm and also backing up spoken word poets Quincy Troupe and Sheri-D Wilson at the Ironwood Stage & Grill on the evenings of Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th (930pm).

- Montreal's Michel Lambert will be playing drums with the Jazzlab Orchestra on Friday, November 8th at the Ironwood (7pm). Lambert is a creative force on the drums, whom I had the privilege of studying with at McGill University during the early 2000s. I am looking forward to hearing how he musically navigates the JazzLab Orchestra which, while not a full-on big band, will still cover a lot of sonic ground given its larger, five-horn configuration.

Here's some footage of the JazzLab Orchestra in action:

- Also from Montreal is drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel, who will be appearing with the award-winning Gentiane MG trio at the Ironwood on Saturday, November 9th (7pm).

Following the release of her first trio recording entitled Eternal Cycle, Gentiane received the 2018-2019 CBC/Radio-Canada Jazz Award and the Prix François-Marcaurelle de la Guilde des Musiciens du Québec. If you are looking to hear an introspective and modern Jazz piano trio next week, this is the group to hear! Louis-Vincent Hamel is an exceptionally musical drummer and he impressed audiences during his performance with saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps No Codes project last June at Calgary's BuckingJam Palace.

- From New York and appearing with tenor saxophonist/Montreal-native Chet Doxas' group Landline is drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. I am personally looking forward to hearing this group, their modern New York sound and experiencing their collective/co-operative approach to composition.

Enjoy this preview of their musical process:

I know both Chet Doxas and bassist Zack Lober from my days as a student at McGill University and they are both incredibly talented and dedicated musicians. This will certainly be a show you won't want to miss.

- Local drummer (and another fellow McGill graduate!) Afo Fapojuwo appears with tenor saxophonist Nate Waters' quartet at Lolita's Lounge on Friday, November 8th (8pm). Afo also leads his own group at the Calgary Central Library, part of the family-friendly JazzWalk on Sunday, November 10th, from 2-3pm. Afo has been a wonderful addition to the local Jazz scene since his return to Calgary, following his studies in Montreal.

- Drummer Ted Warren has undoubtedly been one of the most significant Jazz drummers on the Canadian Jazz scene over the past 30 years. His resume reads like a "who's who" of Jazz greats, including a stint as the drummer with Rob McConnell's Boss Brass for a number of years. He's also one of the most creative and musical drummers you'll ever hear.

At this year's festival we'll hear Ted in action with guitarist Avi Granite's touring project from Toronto, performing music from his latest album Orbit, at the King Eddy on Thursday, November 7th (830pm).

- Alberta vocalist Ellen Doty appears at the King Eddy for two shows on Friday, November 8th (7pm & 930pm) with Edmonton's rock-solid Peter Hendrickson on the drums. Ellen is a lyrical storyteller and Hendrickson's drumming style offers the perfect accompaniment for Doty's vocals.

- Tap dancer Kelly Steele has been making her rhythmic style known to Calgary Jazz audiences over the past couple of years now. Young swinger Nate Chiang on the drums will be backing up Steele's quartet from 12-1pm at the Calgary Central Library on Sunday, November 10th.

- And last, but certainly not least, Regina's Brent Jefferson will be driving the band from behind the drums, backing up guitarist Jack Semple and his tribute to the music of B.B. King, appearing at the Calgary Central Library (in the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall) on Sunday, November 10th (7pm).

Personally, I've known Brent Jefferson for over 30 years now (!) and consider him to be a good friend and an amazing drummer. The rhythmic team of Jefferson along with Jack Semple on guitar and Dave Chobot on bass is one of the grooviest things you'll hear and if this music doesn't move you, you are probably dead!

*I should also add that this festival isn't all about the drummers (!) Be sure to check out a couple of great drummer-less shows next week too including:

- Montreal pianist John Roney and Israeli-born alto saxophonist Tevet Sela at the Ironwood Stage & Grill on Thursday, November 7th (7pm)

- Tim Tamashiro's "Drinky Jazz Cabaret: Nat the Cat" featuring the life and music of Nat King Cole at the Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th (8pm)

For more information about this year's JazzYYC Canadian Jazz Festival please visit www.jazzyyc.com

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, the Fall season is now in full swing around here and I hope you are all keeping busy, studying/practicing hard and digging the music wherever you may be. Remember, be humble and keep the dream alive!

People have been asking about my limited edition Four on the Floor t-shirts lately. My fist run has sold out but I'll keep you posted once the second run has been printed and is in stock. If you are interested in one, please email me at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com and I will keep you updated once they are available.

Here's what has been making the rounds around the Four on the Floor office these days:

- Bill Frisell on the legacy of Ginger Baker from Rolling Stone magazine

- Mike Clark shares some wisdom on trading 4's and 8's over at the Drum Channel

- Peter Erskine's Modern Drummer article on dealing with off-beat rhythms

- Paul Francis with some very insightful history of Zildjian Cymbals from the Drum History Podcast

- Check out Kyle Andrews new drum blog. Lots of thoughtful ideas here.

- Thanks to frequent Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah for passing along this interview with Adam Nussbaum from BANG! The Drum School

- Hey look! Quincy Davis is back after a bit of a hiatus. I've always loved his series of "Q-Tips" and now that he's settled into his new position, teaching Jazz drums at the University of North Texas, I hope that we see more of these. They are always really great. In this edition Quincy talks about and demonstrates the legacy of Philly Joe Jones:

- From That Drum Blog here's a great recommended playlist from Brazilian drummer Edu Ribeiro, featuring his favourite Brazilian drummers. This is really worth checking out.

Ribeiro also has a new Brazilian drumming series through Open Studio that is worth some serious attention in my opinion!

Check out these 2-minute lesson previews:

- Jerome Jennings has what will undoubtedly be another amazing album coming out soon. Check out this preview of his arrangement entitled "Boom Bap Be-Bop":

- Jeff Hamilton shares some ideas on hi-hat technique from a recent drum clinic:

- A feature on Mel Brown, a seminal figure on the Portland Jazz scene:

- And speaking of Portland, here's one of my favourite drummers anywhere, the ever musical and inventive Alan Jones with his sextet:

- I've been really digging Jason Tiemann's Instagram posts lately and here's a couple of Jazz drum set compositions/etudes of his that you can actually check out and purchase:

- Finally, here's Chris Lesso with some words of wisdom from the teachings of Jim Blackley:

- What am I listening to these days?

Mike Allen "Just Like Magic" - Lewis Nash (drums)

PJ Perry "Time Flies" - Joe LaBarbera/Dave Robbins (drums)

Jodi Proznick "Sun Songs" - Jesse Cahill (drums)

Phineas Newborn Jr. "We Three" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Francois Theberge Group "Elenar" - Alan Jones (drums)

Karriem Riggins "Alone Together" - Karriem Riggins (drums)

- And today's Final Word(s) go to these two wise individuals.

First, this one from Joe Dixon with some worthy advice to consider (via Ted Warren):

And these inspiring words from the renowned Canadian painter Ted Godwin:

"An artist's career can accelerate only if they begin with the premise that they are real professionals, "not the Sunday afternoon variety". So the first thing you have to do is set a space aside where you make art and only art, and sanctify it with art. Let music fill and activate the space."

- Ted Godwin from A Handbook for Working Artists

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Wrist Twisters...

The rhythms above are some rudimental exercises and variations that I recently wrote out for a student. I originally posted these on Instagram the other day and Ted Warren reminded me to share them here as well. So here they are.

These are a few simple "wrist twisters" that I like to play and warm up with but there is some backstory in terms of how and why I play them too...

During my graduate studies at McGill University during the early 2000s I had the opportunity to study with Michel Lambert for a semester. He was a great teacher and really opened my ears to a lot of things that I still think about today.

Michel really encouraged me to "open" up my sound on the drums and explore my sonic and dynamic range by means of playing larger strokes. We would do this playing really big double and triple strokes around the kit, really exaggerating the strokes by not just playing from the wrist but by using the forearm as well. He also had me play big huge flam taps in the same manner.

Anyways, taking that sonic concept into consideration I use the above combinations with the same mentality in mind, meaning...create a BIG sound! (try it with brushes too...) Hope you dig it.

Thanks Michel!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Billy Higgins Interview 1991

A short but informative radio interview with the great Billy Higgins circa. 1991 in which he talks about his time playing with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and the importance of listening:

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

Also, check out these reflections of a Billy Higgins/Shelly Manne drum duet (!) from 1984 via Mark Weber:


I really want to know what this sounded like!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Michel Lambert Solo Drums

From a recent performance at Montreal's Cafe Resonance, here's some solo drum set from the ever creative Michel Lambert:

Dig those mounted trash can lids. Yeah!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich 1955

Originally aired in 1955 on Voices of America, here's Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich interview by Willis Conover:

Monday, October 7, 2019

Matt Wilson: "It's all about Imagination"

Matt Wilson is always a source of creative inspiration. I am always reminded that Jazz music is supposed to be FUN when I hear Matt play and talk. 

Here's a recent interview with Matt from Drummer Nation in which he shares his wisdom and creative energy:

And here's some full concert footage from a few years back of Wilson in action with Benny Green, Martin Wind, Chris Potter and Marcus Strickland from Jazz Baltica 2010:

Thursday, October 3, 2019

*Double Stroke Challenge*

An awkward but fun double stroke exercise that I've found to be a useful little warmup/wrist twister.

Check it out:

It looks simple enough: a routine RRLL double-stroke sticking pattern BUT the challenge is to accent every THREE notes grouping in succession. It is harder than it looks/sounds but worth the trouble (really exaggerate those accents ya dig?)