Thursday, December 31, 2020

Max Roach Plays Hollywood

Well, the year 2020 is almost a wrap and hopefully we can put this one behind us and look forward to better days ahead in 2021.

And what better way to leave this year on a high note than with some Max Roach!

Please enjoy this Italian television concert footage of Max performing on a set of rare Hollywood Tronic drums, playing his composition "It's Time" with orchestra and his signature solo composition "The Drum Also Waltzes" (check out the priceless reaction of the young drummer in the background...I'd be smiling too!)

Thanks again for all your continued support and all the best in 2021.

Onwards & Upwards!

*Please consider subscribing to my mailing list on the right side of my page and receive regular updates to your inbox whenever I post a new column!*

Monday, December 28, 2020

Tim Mah's Recommended Canadian Jazz Albums of 2020

Frequent Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah returns once again today, this time offering his extensive list of recommended music released by Canadian jazz artists over the course of 2020.

As you will see, read and hear below, there was lots of great jazz music that came out of Canada over the past year.

Tim's weekly radio program Jazz Today can be heard on CJSW Radio 90.9 fm (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) on Thursday mornings from 530-7am MST. It is also streamed on the CJSW website and available through Apple Podcasts.

Next week Tim will be offering his third and final instalment, a list of recommended international jazz releases from 2020.

In the meantime, check out my interview with Tim Mah on Four on the Floor *Live* happening on Tuesday, December 29th at 7pm MST (9pm EST) on Instagram IGTV @fouronthefloorblog.

Tim and I will be discussing some of the music he's selected for this year's Canadian year-end list.

Tim Mah's Recommended Canadian Jazz Albums of 2020

The purpose of this guest post is to bring more attention to Canadian artists. Some of the artists on this list have been mentioned in the year-end lists in major publications (New York Times, DownBeat Magazine, Popmatters, etc.) however most artists do not receive that level of attention. There was an abundance of new releases, led or co-led by Canadians, from December 2019 and November 2020. Below is a list of albums to get you started on your listening journey. 

Webber/Morris Big Band “Both Are True” 

Co-led by Anna Webber and Angela Morris, below is a video of the title track “Both Are True”:


Cat Toren’s HUMAN KIND “Scintillating Beauty” 

Below is the audio for the song “Ignis Fatuus”:


Peripheral Vision “Irrational Revelation and Mutual Humiliation” 

This double album celebrates more than ten years of the collaboration that is Peripheral Vision. Don Scott (guitar), Michael Herring (bass), Trevor Hogg (saxophone) and Nick Fraser (drums) .

This is a video of the band performing “Whistle Up a Rope”:


Doxas Brothers “The Circle” 

Co-led by Chet and Jim Doxas, here is the music video of “Uno a la Vez”:


Brandi Disterheft Trio & George Coleman “Surfboard” 

Brandi Disterheft’s (bass, vocals) fifth album featured Klaus Mueller (piano), Portinho (drums) and George Coleman (saxophone). 

Below is the official music video of “My Foolish Heart”:


Steph Richards “SUPERSENSE” 

Steph Richards (trumpet, flugelhorn) is joined by Jason Moran (piano), Stomu Takeishi (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums). 

Here is the album trailer for “SUPERSENSE”:


Donnybrook “Live at the Bassment” 

The band members of Donnybrook consist of Ben Bishop (guitar), Jeff McLeod (organ) and Morgan Childs (drums). 

Below is the audio for “Mixed Greens (Live)”:


Mark Godfrey “Square Peg” 

Mark Godfrey’s (bass) first full length album features his quintet, including Allison Au (alto saxophone), Matt Woroshyl (tenor saxophone), Chris Pruden (piano) and Nick Fraser (drums). 

This is the audio for “No Gig Today”:


Emie R Roussel Trio “Rythme de Passage” 

This is the fifth album for the Emie R Roussel Trio. The band members are Emie Rioux-Roussel (piano & keyboards), Nicolas Bédard (bass) and Dominic Cloutier (drums) 

This is a video of the trio performing “Maltagliati”:

Rachel Therrien “Vena” 

On this album, Rachel Therrien is joined by her European quartet. 

Below is a video of Rachel Therrien and her band performing “V for Vena”:


Rubim de Toledo “The Dig” 

Bassist Rubim de Toledo is the recipient of the Western Canadian Music Awards 2018 jazz artist of the year. The musicians on this album include Chris Andrew (piano), Bob Tildesley (trumpet), Jamie Cooper (drums) and Jim Brenan (saxophone, clarinet). 

Below is the video for “Saddleback”:


Lina Allemano’s Ohrenschmaus “Rats and Mice” 

Ohrenschmaus is Lina Allemano’s Berlin-based trio, which includes Lina Allemano (trumpet), Dan Peter Sundland (bass), and Michael Griener (drums). 

Here is a video of Lina Allemano’s Ohrenschmaus performing “Very Dirty”:


Lina Allemano “Glimmer Glammer” 

“Glimmer Glammer” is Lina Allemano’s solo trumpet album. 

Mike Rud “Salome’s Dance: The Mike Rud Trio Invites Peter Bernstein” 

Below is the official music video for “Salome’s Dance”:


Luke Sellick & Andrew Renfroe “Small Vacation” 

Below is a video of Luke Sellick (bass) and Andrew Renfroe (guitar) performing “Hills of Mexico”:


Rebecca Hennessy “All The Little Things You Do” 

This is the official video for “Magnolia”:


Alex Goodman “Impressions in Blue and Red” 

This double album features two different quartets. The “blue” quartet includes Ben Van Gelder (alto saxophone), Alex Goodman (guitar) Martin Nevin (bass) and Jimmy Macbride (drums). The “red” quartet includes Alex LoRe (alto saxophone), Alex Goodman (guitar) Rick Rosato (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). 

Here is the video for “No Man’s Land” (written by Alex Goodman):


Ernesto Cervini “Tetrahedron” 

The band members on this album are Ernesto Cervini (drums), Rich Brown (bass), Luis Deniz (saxophone) and Nir Felder (guitar). 

Below is a live performance of the band performing “The Sneaky Two”:


Frank Lozano & Gentiane MG “Convergence” 

This is the video for “Era” (Frank Lozano – saxophone, composition; Gentiane MG – piano):


Okan “Espiral” 

Here is the official music video for “Espiral”:


Quinsin Nachoff “Pivotal Arc” 

Below is the video for “String Quartet – Movement 1”:


Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra “Urban(e)" 

Here is the video for “Excerpts from the Firebird” (Igor Stravinsky): 


Dan Fortin “The Latest Tech” 

This album consists of nine solo bass compositions from Dan Fortin.

Below is the audio for “American Desert”:  


Andy Milne & Unison “The reMission” 

This is Andy Milne’s (piano) first trio album. He’s joined by John Hebert (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums). 

This is the album trailer: 


Ben Wendel “High Heart” 

Vancouver-born, Los Angeles raised and New York based Ben Wendel released his latest album at the end of October. The musicians on the album are Ben Wendel (saxophone, EFX, bassoon), Michael Mayo (vocals), Gerald Clayton (piano, Fender Rhodes), Shai Maestro (piano, Fender Rhodes), Joe Sanders (bass) and Nate Wood (drums). 

Below is the video for “Drawn Away”:


Kari van der Kloot “The Architects” 

This is vocalist Kari van der Kloot’s second album. 

Below is a video of a live performance of “Same Song”:


Laila Biali “Out of Dust” 

“Out of Dust” is Laila Biali’s follow up to her 2019 Juno award winning vocal jazz album.

The following is an acoustic version of the song “The Monolith”:


David Virelles “Transformacion del Arcoiris” 

This is a solo album from David Virelles (piano, synths, percussion), who worked on these tracks during the pandemic quarantine. Marcus Gilmore plays MPC drums on one track.

Matthew Stevens and Walter Smith III “In Common 2” 

Matthew Stevens (guitar) and Walter Smith III (saxophone) released their first collaboration (“In Common”) in 2018. The band included Joel Ross, Harish Raghavan and Marcus Gilmore.  "In Common 2" includes Linda Oh, Nate Smith and Micah Thomas. 

Below is the album trailer:


Ingrid Laubrock + Kris Davis “Blood Moon” 

This is a concert of Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone) and Kris Davis (piano) performing at the Jazz Gallery in New York for a Skopje Jazz Festival livestream:


Here is a list of more Canadian artists with 2020 releases that you can check out:

Alex Moxon Quartet “Alex Moxon Quartet” 

Alvaro Rojas “Gran Kasa”

Angela Turone & Chris Platt “Sounds of Brazil”

Audrey Ochoa “Frankenhorn”

Claire Devlin Quartet “Anyone”

Diana Krall “This Dream of You”

Evan Shay “New Normal”

François Houle “Recoder” and “Vortex” (with the ITACA 4et - Nicola Fazzini, Alessandro Fedrigo and Nick Fraser)

Gillian Margot “Power Flower”

Gordon Grdina “Nomad,” “Resist,” Safar-e-Daroon,” and “Prior Street”

Harrison Squared “Trout in Swimwear”

Jean-Michel Leblanc “Varietes Narratives”

Jen Hodge All Stars “The Girl in the Groove”

Jerry Granelli Trio “The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince Guraldi and Mose Allison”

Jocelyn Gould “Elegant Traveler”

John Stetch “Blue Canada”

Koffman Hiltz Quartet “Mumbo Jumbo”

Larnell Lewis “Relive the Moment”

Local Talent (James Hill, Rich Brown and Ian Wright) “Higienopolis”

Marika Galea ‘Nuance”

Mark Segger Sextet “Liftoff”

The Nimmons Tribute “To the Nth”

Pat Collins Trio (feat. Reg Schwager & Tom Szczesniak) “Time Well Spent”

Patrick Boyle “Swivel”

Petr Cancura “Another Way Home (feat. Kenny Wollesen, Tony Scherr & Rob Jost),” “Life is a Gong Show (with the group Songs of Tales - Jean Martin, Jesse Zubot, Gordon Grdina)” and “Don’t Let It Stop (feat. Charlie Hunter & Geoff Clapp)

Pulsart Trio “Swing Theory – EP”

Rob Clutton “Offering” and “Counsel of Primaries”

Sarah Rossy “The Conclusion”

See Through 4 "Bog Standards" and "False Ghosts, Minor Fears"

Ways (Brodie West and Evan Cartwright) + Simon Toldam “Fortunes”

Will Bonness “Change of Plans”

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring CJSW's Tim Mah

Please join us for our next episode happening this Tuesday, December 29th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live @fouronthfloorblog featuring Tim Mah, host of CJSW's radio program Jazz Today

We will be discussing Tim's upcoming list of album releases by Canadian jazz artists from the past year.

Tim's radio program Jazz Today can be heard on CJSW Radio 90.9 fm (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) on Thursday mornings from 530-7am MST and it is also streamed on the CJSW website (and available through Apple Podcasts).

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Joe Farnsworth - Learn to Play from Bud Powell and Charlie Parker


Joe Farnsworth is back with more great wisdom, this time with comping ideas inspired by the phrasing and genius of Bud Powell and Charlie Parker:

Thanks Joe and keep 'em coming!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Tim Mah's Recommended Drummer-Led Albums of 2020 (Part Two!)

Frequent Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah returns today, this time offering Part Two of his extensive list of favourite albums released by jazz drummers in 2020 from all around the world (click here to read Part One, published last May).

Tim's radio program Jazz Today can be heard on CJSW Radio 90.9 fm (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) on Thursday mornings at 530am. 

It is also streamed on the CJSW website and is available through Apple Podcasts.

Look for more great year-end lists from Tim Mah coming your way in the weeks to come, offering his informed choices of Canadian and International jazz releases from 2020.

Tim Mah's 2020 Recommended Album Releases From Drummers (Part Two!)

In my previous guest post (published on May 15, 2020), Four on the Floor published a list of drummers, who released albums through April 2020. This guest post includes new music from May to November 2020, plus some that I missed on the previous post. 

The intent of this list is to put a spotlight on new releases from musicians, who happen to be drummers. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list. 

In no particular order, check out new releases from:   

Quin Kirchner     

Chicago-based Quin Kirchner’s sophomore album is called “The Shadows and the Light.” Bandcamp ranked his debut album (“The Other Side of Time”) as one of the best albums of 2018.

This is the audio of the title track:


Also, check out his solo drum performance for Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio in April 2020:


Makaya McCraven    

Earlier this year, Makaya McCraven released “We’re New Again” - an album reimagining Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here.”  

In July, he released “Universal Beings E&F Sides” – an addendum to his critically acclaimed 2018 album, “Universal Beings.”

This is the audio for the track “Everybody Cool” from “Universal Beings E&F Sides”:

Check out this documentary about the making of “Universal Beings”:    

Shirazette Tinnin    

North Carolina-native, New York-based Shirazette Tinnin is a drummer, educator and health coach, who released her sophomore album this year called “Sonic Wallpaper Volume 1: The Cards That Life Can Deal.”   

This is the audio for “Past Tense”:


This is a video of a recent livestream concert featuring Shirazette Tinnin and her band playing music from the new album: 


Ralph Peterson Jr. 

Ralph Peterson Jr. released his 25th album as a leader, called “Onward and Upward,” with his band called the Messenger Legacy. He pays tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, bringing together 14 former Jazz Messengers and 3 Legacy Messengers to perform on the album.

This is the audio for the title track:   

Jonathan Barber   

Jonathan Barber released his sophomore album with his band, Vision Ahead” called “Legacy Holder” in May, followed by “Live at Jazz Standard” in October (available exclusively on Bandcamp https://jonathanbarber.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-jazz-standard). 

This could be the last album recorded at the Jazz Standard, which announced that it will not be reopening due to the impact of the global pandemic.

Here is the audio for the title track:

This is video of Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead performing “Haikus” (composed by Matt Dwonszyk) at the Jazz Standard in New York:


Joe Farnsworth   

In September, Joe Farnsworth released his latest album, “Time to Swing” featuring Kenny Barron (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Wynton Marsalis (trumpet).

This is the EPK for the album:


You can also hear Joe Farnsworth on the album “Mabern Plays Mabern” – the last album recorded by Harold Mabern, released posthumously in the spring of 2020.   
Billy Martin “Guilty”   

Medeski Martin and Wood drummer, Billy Martin, makes his debut on bass on the album “Guilty,” released in July 2020.   

This is the music video for the track called “Geek Love”:     


Dafnis Prieto   

The Dafnis Prieto Sextet’s new album is called “Transparency,” released in October.   

This is a behind the scenes look at the recording of the album:   


Dan Weiss   

In September, Dan Weiss released “Natural Selection,” his second album from his band, Starebaby, which combines doom metal, electronics and improvised music.   

This is the album teaser for “Natural Selection”:     


Check out this Starebaby concert:   

Part 1

Part 2 

Matt Wilson   
The latest album from the Matt Wilson Quartet is called “Hug!,” featuring Jeff Lederer (saxophone), Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Chris Lightcap (bass) was released in August.   

This is the music video for the title track:


Rudy Royston    

Check out the June 25, 2020 Four on the Floor blog post featuring an interview with Rudy Royston about his new solo drum album called “PaNOptic.”   

This is the audio for the track for “maXX” – inspired by Max Roach:    


Also, check out Rudy Royston on 2020 releases from Bill Frisell (“Valentine”), Rudresh Mahanthappa (“Hero Trio”), and Lisa Hilton (“More Than Another Day”)   

Jeff Williams   

Four on the Floor featured Jeff Williams on February 17, 2020.  In November, Jeff Williams released “Road Tales: Live at the London Jazz Festival.”   
This is the audio file for “The Interloper”:     


Christian Euman   

Chicago-native, Los Angeles-based Christian Euman has performed with Billy Childs, Kurt Elling, Marquis Hill, Jacob Collier and many more. This summer, he released his debut album “Allemong.”  

This is the audio of “Don’t Go to Your Face”:


Asher Gamedze   

Cape Town, South Africa’s Asher Gamedze released his debut album in July.   

This is the audio for the track “Eternality” :   


Also, check out Asher Gamedze on Chicago’s Angel Bat Dawid’s 2019 album, “The Oracle,” where he’s featured on the 15 minute track called “Capetown”.   

Adam Nussbaum   

In August, Adam Nussbaum released “Lead Belly Reimagined” – a follow up to his 2018 album “The Lead Belly Project.” The band members are Steve Cardenas (guitar), Nate Radley (guitar) and Ohad Talmor (saxophone).   

This is a video of a concert recorded at Seeds: Brooklyn (September 2020):    


Adonis Rose   

Please refer to the October 15, 2020 blog post, featuring an interview with Adonis Rose about his new album, “Piece of Mind - Live at the Blue Llama.”   

This is a concert video of Adonis Rose and the “Piece of Mind” band performing at the New Orleans Jazz Museum for International Jazz Day 2020:


Quincy Davis 

Please refer to the November 5, 2020 blog post, featuring an interview with Quincy Davis about his new album “Q Vision”.    

This is the audio for the track “Shorter Days (For Wayne Shorter)”:


Charles Rumback   

Charles Rumback is another great drummer on the Chicago music scene. This summer, he released the album “June Holiday”.     

This is the official video for “Burning Daylight”:   


Matt Mayhall   

Los Angeles-based Matt Mayhall is the drummer in Aimee Mann’s band. In February, he released his sophomore album called “Fanatics,” featuring Jeff Parker (guitar) and Chris Speed (saxophone, clarinet).   

This is the audio for Heliotrope:


In May 2020, Matt Mayhall and trumpeter, Dan Rosenboom, released an album called “Language”  

Also, check out Matt Mayhall and Jay Bellerose (percussion) on Paul Bryan’s “Cri$el Gems”  

Eric Binder Trio   

New York-native, Chicago-based Eric Binder’s new trio album “Hard Bop" featuring Walter Smith III (saxophone) and Petros Klampanis (bass), was released in July.  

This is the audio for “Trane Ride” off the album:


This is a video of a livestream of the “Hard Bop” album release concert at the Fulton Street Collective in Chicago:



Here are a few more drummers with 2020 releases to check out:   

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers   

In July, Blue Note Records released an unreleased studio album "Just Coolin'" by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers that was recorded on March 8, 1959 in Rudy Van Gelder’s living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. 

The session featured a short-lived line-up of The Jazz Messengers with drummer Art Blakey, trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt.   

Bobby Wiens    

Calgary-native, Denver-based Bobby Wiens released his debut album as a band leader in November, called “Talking Drums”. 

Vijay Anderson   

The Vijay Anderson Trio, featuring Adam Lane (bass) and Ben Goldberg (clarinet) released a new album (“Studio Sessions, Vol. 10”) in September 2020. Vijay Anderson is a California-native, currently living in Brooklyn.  

John Hollenbeck 

In August, John Hollenbeck released the final chapter of a trilogy of albums, in which he explored and arranged popular songs. For this recording, “Songs You Like A Lot,” listeners nominated their favorite songs for Hollenbeck to arrange. After an internet-wide vote on a list of nominated songs, Hollenbeck chose (with the help of Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann and Gary Versace) from the top 20 most popular songs.  

This album was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award.   Personnel - John Hollenbeck: composer, arranger, conductor; Kate McGarry: vocals; Theo Bleckmann: vocals; Gary Versace: piano, organ + Frankfurt Radio Big Band.   

Susie Ibarra    

“Rhythm Cycles” by Susie Ibarra is a commissioned solo performance by the Bagri Foundation for their series " At the Cutting Edge" performed at Cafe OTO.  This performance was recorded in 2019 and was released in November 2020.   

Raphael Pannier   

Paris-born, New York-based Raphael Pannier released his debut album in September 2020. The band on the album include Francois Moutin (bass), Aaron Goldberg (piano) and Miguel Zenon (saxophone).  

Rajiv Jayaweera   

London born Rajiv Jayaweera grew up in Melbourne, is of Sri Lankan heritage and has been based in New York for nearly a decade.This album is Rajiv Jayaweera's debut album featuring eight of his original compositions inspired by images and memories from Sri Lanka. It also features the relatively unknown traditional drum, the thammattama or temple drum, which appears on two of songs.  

Personnel: Chris Cheek (tenor/soprano saxophone), Aaron Parks (piano), Hugh Stuckey (guitar), Sam Anning (double bass), Rajiv Jayaweera (drums, cymbals, caxixi, thammattama) and Lara Bello (voice)   

Devin Gray   

Brooklyn-based Devin Gray collaborates with fellow drummer, Gerald Cleaver, on the October 2020 album called “27 Licks”. 

Also, check out Devin Gray’s EP “Socialytics” (released in May 2020) and two new singles that he recorded with Ralph Alessi (trumpet) and Angelica Sanchez (piano). 

Chase Kuesel   

Drummer and composer Chase Kuesel (“key-sull”) released his debut album, “Space Between,” in July 2020. This album was recorded in June 2019, at the end of Chase's one-year stay in Switzerland for the Focusyear Artist Grant.   

Larnell Lewis   

Larnell Lewis released “Relive the Moment” in November. On this album, Larnell reimagined six compositions from his debut album (“In the Moment”) by recording new live drum performances. The closing track is a new composition.   

Jerry Granelli

Granelli's latest release "The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince Guaraldi and Mose Allison" explores music from two of Granelli's significant musical collaborators, putting a fresh perspective on some older material.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Dave Laing!

Thanks to everyone who tuned in last week for my inaugural episode of Four on the Floor *Live* featuring Chris Smith, creator of The Jazz Drum Hang. I am slowly getting the hang of this!

Please join me for our next episode happening this Tuesday, December 22nd at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live @fouronthfloorblog featuring my dear friend and one of Canada's greatest jazz drummers, Dave Laing! www.davelaing.com

Dave Laing grew up in a musical family in Ontario, Canada. His father was a jazz lover and his mother a skilled pianist. Following high school, Dave came to McGill University for music training where he studied with the late Lou Williamson and, later, Pete Magadini. 

Within a couple of years he began to play on the local scene including appearances at the storied Montreal jazz club, Bar 2080, performing with such visiting artists as Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Heath, Junior Cook, Frank Wess, "Big" John Patton, J.R. Montrose, Fraser McPherson and many others.  At that time he also began associations with such local luminaries as Andre White, Kevin Dean, Ranee Lee, Remi Bolduc, and Geoff Lapp that would continue over the coming years. He relocated to Toronto for a brief period and performed with many of the leading players there including Ed Bickert, Don Thompson, Lorne Lofsky, Pat Labarbera, Reg Schwager and Guido Basso.

Upon returning to Montreal, Dave continued to solidify his position as one of Canada's most in-demand musicians appearing on over 60 CD's to date. His performing credits include working with such artists such as Denzal Sinclaire, the Joe Sullivan Big Band, Barry Harris, Mark Murphy, Lage Lund, Danilo Perez, Jim McNeely, Dave Leibman, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Jon Ballantyne, Mulgrew Miller, John Stetch, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kevin Turcotte, Peter Leitch, Ben Monder, Kenny Werner, Jerry Bergonzi, PJ Perry, George Garzone, Oliver Jones, Shelia Jordan and many more. He has travelled the world performing music including such diverse places as China, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, the United States, Europe, and across Canada.

Dave has also been heavily involved in music education for the past 30 years. He was a member of the McGill University music faculty since 1990, teaching private students and ensembles. He also taught lecture courses in Jazz History and Jazz Appreciation. Dave was recently appointed the head of drums and percussion at Grant MacEwan University.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Interview with Russ Gleason - Drum Hangs

While we are still patiently riding things out, awaiting the day when we can once again perform and safely appreciate music in person (all together and in close proximity!), it's still worth taking note of all the amazing on-line resources, webinars and live-streams that have come available over the past few months.

In the wise words of Dan Weiss:

Gigs cancelled.
Tours cancelled.
Practice....NOT cancelled.

If so inclined, there is no lack of great information and inspiration out there to check out. It's never been easier to connect with the world's great jazz drummers via social media or on one of the many music platforms currently available on the web.

With that mind, Russ Gleason has put together an incredible initiative called Drum Hangs in which he has been interviewing (or "hanging" with) the greatest drummers in the world, on a regular basis since last Summer.

Russ's sessions are conducted using Zoom, broadcast from the UK, and have featured such artists as Steve Gadd, Jack DeJohnette, Bernard Purdie, John Riley, Adam Nussbaum, Mike Clark, Antonio Sanchez, Bill Stewart, Martin France, James Gadson, Vinnie Coluaita, Ed Soph, Jeff Hamilton, Peter Erskine, Steve Jordan, Simon Phillips, Nate Smith, Jeff Hamilton and many, many more. 

Check it out!

Russ was also kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about Drum Hangs. 

Thanks Russ and keep up the great work!

Russ Gleason Drum Hangs Interview - Four on the Floor December 2020

1) Tell us all about Drum Hangs! What is it all about?

Drum Hangs is a platform hosted on Zoom which connects drummers around the world directly with their heroes.

When the pandemic hit, my first thought was “What are my favourite drummers going to do? All the work is gone!” After having this initial thought, I wrestled long and hard in my head about a way in which I could help to support musicians. I saw a lot of content going up on YouTube and social media but when I watched it, I didn’t feel connected and it was over-educational at a time when I felt isolated and didn’t really feel like practicing.

Without any gigs to work towards, what was the point?! I think we probably all felt that way. The drumming world needed a more laid back way of inspiring folks with more of a focus on music not just technique and stuff that was way too ‘drum heavy’.

About a month into the pandemic, the idea came to me. I was talking to my great friend and top session drummer, Neal Wilkinson, very regularly and one day we decided to chat on Zoom and that we would be by our drums and play ideas as we both weren’t really doing much practice at the time; we had the ‘Pandemic Blues’ if you will. I still have the notes from that day which are titled ‘Drums & Tea with Neal’. After about two hours we both came away feeling good and I suggested to Neal that we should invite people we knew the next week. Neal could share some ideas, and I would host. There was a nominal charge to take part and we ended up with around 70 people.

The energy that leapt out of the screen that day was insane! People felt connected and were able to communicate directly with other drummers; it was an incredibly profound experience for us all. Soon after, we decided that we would invite special guests to come and hang with us and because we had monetized the platform, we were able to pay. This was completely unique to anything else that was going on in the drumming world at that time.

The whole point of Drum Hangs is to support our favourite musicians whilst keeping drummers connected. Connecting Drummers Worldwide is our tagline and that’s really what we have been able to do; we have been able to connect drummers and musicians from over 30 countries around the world! With a few exceptions, we have had most of the legendary drummers in the world appear at Drum Hangs and it has been nothing short of incredible. I regularly awake the day after a hang thinking “was that a dream?”.

The other unique thing about Drum Hangs is that nothing is recorded. I get no end of messages from people around the world complaining to me that we should put it on YouTube. They’re missing the point completely! If only they would realise the fact that when the camera is on and you’re being recorded, you are less relaxed and it’s pretty stilted. I realise that commercially it would be a good idea for us to do such a thing but it wouldn’t be the same and we’re certainly not in it for the money. Drum Hangs is relaxed, spontaneous and in the moment; exactly how we feel music should be. Our guests feel comfortable, they will be very open, and participants can interact with them directly. Akin to being in a drum store and then your favourite drummer walks in!

A Hang can go in any direction. Some guys play, some prefer to take questions and hang out. We play records, we have fun - it’s MUSICAL!

2) Did you have any experience interviewing drummers or producing on-line content before the global pandemic hit?

Before the pandemic hit, I had no experience in interviewing drummers but I knew I could hang. After 25 years of working in the music industry in drum stores and for drum manufactures in sales & marketing roles, I’ve dealt with drummers every day of my working life; I guess it was second nature to some extent. In regards to online content, I’ve ran social media accounts and wrote a few things over the years but nothing that was really my own; always on the behalf of a company. I’ve always been active arranging masterclasses, gigs, and clinics, so I had built a few relationships up on the way, I guess.

Was it a steep learning curve in terms of learning how to use the technology?

We use the Zoom platform at Drum Hangs which was pretty straightforward for me to use. The tricky part at the beginning was the administrative side of things and making sure that I did a good job at being organised. Pretty soon after we started, I knew we needed a brand name, a logo, and then I was able to develop the website, www.drumhangs.com, and now everything is pretty automated in terms of bookings.

3) Tell us all about your colleague Neal Wilkinson and his role in this project.

Neal is one of my absolute favourite drummers. He’s one of the greatest to ever do it and I have admired his playing for as long as I can remember. I feel so lucky to have Neal in my life and to have him be a part of Drum Hangs is just out of this world!

To me, Neal is the ultimate working drummer. One minute he’ll be at Abbey Road doing a film session and then he’ll be out on tour with James Morrison, and then you’ll spot him on the drums on a TV show. He can do it all and he does it as good as anyone and he doesn’t make a song & dance about it; he’s working!

Neal has such common ground with many of our special guests, so the conversation at Drum Hangs tends to be on a different level to anything else I’ve ever seen. At Drum Hangs, Neal will share a few ideas and chat with our community before our special guest arrives and it’s always such a pleasure to hear him play and talk!

4) What are some of the highlights from Drum Hangs so far?

There have been so many truly magical moments since we started Drum Hangs back in May that I really need to write a book about it all to be honest. There’s never been a platform like this with so many of the world’s truly legendary drummers involved and I’ve been so fortunate to be able to have direct contact with all these heroes of mine in putting all this together. I’m hugely grateful to all of them for believing in me and for being a part of Drum Hangs.

I would love to share every magical moment here but I shall just pick one for now. Steve Gadd has appeared twice at Drum Hangs, which is a dream come true, and the first time he was on everyone showed up for it; and I mean everyone! It was just out of this world. To hear Steve and Vinnie Colaiuta chatting about the challenges of traditional grip, and then to hear Steve chatting with Ed Greene about the groove was just unbelievable. We all really celebrated Steve’s huge contribution to music that day and it was so special that I still get goosebumps when I think about it. The sense of community and the love in the room that day for Steve was just something else. As we all know, Steve Gadd is one of the greatest and humble people on the planet.

The thing is, you never know who may check into a hang. This very small corner of the internet that we have created has become a very special place for drummers. I realize that I’m being quite guarded on Drum Hangs highlights but believe me, if you’re not attending, you’re missing simply incredible moments with the world’s most legendary drummers!

5) What are some lessons you've learned from this project?

The most important thing anyone attending Drum Hangs will have learnt is that humility is one of the greatest attributes any person can have working in the music industry, or any industry for that matter. All of the guests that we have featured are simply the most incredible, inspiring, and humble people you’ll ever meet. Humility is incredibly powerful and the world could certainly do with more of it.

6) Can you give us a preview of the drummers who will be appearing on Drum Hangs in 2021?

We’re looking forward to 2021 at Drum Hangs and we’re in the process of scheduling our special guests for January. There are still many great musicians that we would love to have appear and we’d also like to do many ‘part 2’s’ with previous guests. Once the pandemic has lifted a little and folks are able to start travelling and touring again, we would love to assist in promoting live gigs, masterclasses, and clinics in the London area under the Drum Hangs banner.

7) What kind of drumming activities are you usually up to? (when not in the midst of a global pandemic!) Also, would you mind talking a bit about your relationship studying with Jim Blackley?

I’ve had the drumming bug since I was about 15 and have studied with some great teachers over the years including Jim Blackley, Bob Armstrong, Allan Cox, Spike Wells, and Phil Solomon. I love pretty much all styles of music and these days I’m not a big ‘practicer’ but I listen to so much music; the records are where all the magic is!

Since starting Drum Hangs, I’ve been asked a lot about my studies with Jim Blackley. In my early twenties, I was studying with Allan Cox who is a fantastic player, educator, and he also created the ‘Meet the Bass Player’ play-along series which has been so successful and helped many players & teachers around the world. I worked so hard on Jim Blackley’s material whilst studying with Allan, and one day during a lesson he said to me “you should go and study with Jim”. I looked at him and thought “is that possible? could I really do that?” He assured me that it’d be great and more importantly, life-changing. He was correct!

Allan put me in contact with Jim’s son, Kaja, and we arranged that I would travel to Canada from the UK for a week of lessons with the master! I couldn’t believe that the pilgrimage was going to happen, and it was all very overwhelming simply because I had worked so hard at Jim’s material and really made it a part of my being.

Jim’s material is incredibly musical. It will develop the drummer’s sense of swing and hopefully give your time that bounce and lift that the music needs. You learn to be able to listen and react; the music should play you! The material really helps to keep your ego in check and you develop rhythmically in your approach to musical phrases.

Like I said, people have asked me a lot about studying with Jim since I started Drum Hangs and I always say the same thing. The thing that affected me on the deepest and most profound level, was the warmth I felt when I was at Casa Blackley. His family are truly beautiful people; just amazing! The first time I went to study with Jim, his wife Aisha was still with us and I swear that she was an angel. It’s hard to put into words what it was like to be in her company, just an absolutely incredible lady and I was very sad to learn of her passing. Jim also sadly passed a few years back and I guess now he is reunited with Aisha. In their youth, they were champion ballroom dancers, so they’re dancing in the skies somewhere, no doubt!

I realize that I’m not giving too much away about what lessons were like with Jim. I guess I can say that you just played for around 6 hours each lesson and he guided you. He wanted you to find yourself and he seemed to know exactly where your head was at before you even said a word and he gave you that push you needed. The man was wise beyond words - HEAVY!

I can’t recommend Jim’s publications, ‘Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer’ and ‘The Essence of Jazz Drumming’ highly enough. Get the books, but get your head out of the books! Make sure you seek out a teacher who has studied with Jim to take you through the material; there are many subtleties.

Playing-wise, I just try to be as versatile as possible and I’ve always admired the guys who can go and play any gig. I’ve just tried to prepare myself for any musical situation that may present itself. I’ll rarely miss an opportunity to go and play whether it’s 1920’s tea dance playing dixieland jazz, a Big Band playing Sammy Nestico charts, a theatre production, ‘Stuff’ style funk club date, a ‘Top-40’ wedding gig, or an all-out rock ’n’ roll thing, I’ll try to let the music play me and react accordingly. Playing the drums is no big deal; playing music is what we should be striving for and if we can meet some great people and build long-lasting relationships along the way, then surely that ticks many boxes towards achieving the ultimate goal; a happy life!

Don't miss out and visit www.drumhangs.com to learn more about this wonderful project.

*Hey, while we're on the topic of Hangs....don't forget to tune in to the inaugural episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening tonight Thursday, December 17th 7pm MST (9pm EST) on Instagram IGTV @fouronthefloorblog with special guest Chris Smith, curator of the Jazz Drum Hang! www.jazzdrumhang.com*

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Chris Smith

Please consider joining myself and Chris Smith, creator of The Jazz Drum Hang and author of "The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis" for the inaugural episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening this Thursday, December 17th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live @fouronthfloorblog

Monday, December 14, 2020

Max Roach - Torino 1994

This masterclass with Max Roach, recorded in Torino, Italy circa. 1994 recently popped up on YouTube and since Max is my all-time drum hero, here it is!

I'm not sure who said it or where I saw this, but I recently saw this quote: 

"Whenever you listen to Max Roach, you will never be disappointed."

And they are right!

And finally, I shared this one last week in my post featuring Joe Farnsworth's brilliant brush lesson. Here is Max demonstrating his beautiful ballad brushwork while singing the old standard I Love You:

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Return of the Four-Limbed Monster!

Further to my post from last week, here's a few more comping exercises in the same spirit as the ones I shared before (btw the fellow above was not impressed that Mr. Octopus got all the attention last time, so here he is to set us straight...and if you haven't checked out "4-Way Coordination" by Dahlgren & Fine, you should!)

As with my previous exercises, I find these really help with my sense of balance while developing 4-limb coordination.

Play both of these exercises with the standard ride cymbal rhythm over top.

Exercise #1

Exercise #2

As before, these are a series of syncopated figures organized in three-beat phrases that create an over-the-bar-line loop. 

You should also practice these rhythms with just the snare, bass drum and hi-hat individually with the ride cymbal. You could even play them between two limbs as well. 

As I mentioned before, the orchestration between the snare, bass drum and hi-hat isn't by accident and intentionally by design. Have you figured out the logic of each example yet?

These are also helpful ways to integrate your hi-hat into your timekeeping/comping phrases (i.e. Roy Haynes, Alan Dawson, Bill Stewart, etc.)

Play it slow.

Balance the limbs dynamically.

Use a metronome.

Relax and strive for a sense of flow.

Make it swing!

* If you have any questions please let me know!*

** If you might be interested in taking a lesson with me and learn about more exercises and concepts such as these and more, drop me a line and we'll connect!!**

*** Don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list on the right hand side of the page!!!***

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - December 2020

Well, another year has almost gone by and what a year it's been! Blogging will continue through the end of December (and I don't know about you, but this year can't finish soon enough...) however this will be the final Monday Morning Paradiddle column of 2020. 

I've got a few more technique exercises to post in the weeks ahead and frequent guest columnist Tim Mah (of CJSW's award-winning radio program Jazz Today) will once again be offering his choice of this year's jazz releases by Canadian artists and great jazz drummers from around the world.

I am also going to attempt a little social media experiment in the coming weeks ahead called *Four on the Floor Live* and will be hosting informal interviews on a weekly basis with several jazz drumming social media personalities via my Instagram page @fouronthefloorblog. So keep an eye out for future announcements.

*Also, please don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list on the right hand side of the page to receive regular updates whenever I publish a new blog post. Don't miss out and get Four on the Floor delivered straight to your inbox!*

Anyhow, here's a collection of interesting items, old & new, for your consideration.

And now on with the show...

1. Jazz drumming great Billy Drummond's feature in Not So Modern Drummer magazine.

And here's an amazing solo of Billy's from a hit at Small's on Bobby Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem":


2. Montreal's Michel Lambert featured via La Gazette Bleue d'Action Jazz 

3. A repeat episode from 2015, but an inspiring and motivating interview none-the-less with John Riley from the Drummer's Resource Podcast

4. Jazz Times magazine's Bright Moments with the great Andrew Cyrille

5. Brian Blade's Artist's Choice, also from Jazz Times

6. Billy Martin interviews the Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart

7. Peter Erskine has been sharing a great on-going list of influential drummers via Facebook lately. Here's a link to his Infinity Drummers Playlist via Google Docs

8. Rhythm guru Russell Hartenberger interviews the late John Wyre via the Nexus percussion website

9. I recently attended a wonderful Zoom masterclass with Ra Kalam Bob Moses last Saturday morning and was inspired by his explanations and ear-opening concepts such as "Living Music"(ie. singing and dancing!) and internalizing resolution points. I really took a lot away from this session and I'd also like to extend a big shout-out to Clifford Koufman for putting this together!

Here's a brief clip of Ra Kalam improvising, using Hemp Tempo mallets:


10. I also attended an incredible zoom session with Bill Stewart last week, courtesy of Russ Gleason and the fine folks over at Drum Hangs (check this site out!) It was a really great opportunity to hear Bill talk about his process, influences, ride cymbal technique, etc. and a tremendous insight into his musical mind.

Here's a great piece featuring Bill with the Blue Note All-Stars circa. 1996:


11. Open Studio recently featured Ulysses Owens Jr. and Greg Hutchinson in this livestream "Finding Your Beat":

And Edu Ribeiro continues with his excellent Drum Conversations YouTube series. Here is Edu's interview with drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis:


 12. Peter Apfelbaum and Mark Guiliana in a creative duet: 


13. Check out this absolutely killing solo from Jack DeJohnette!


14. I thought this was interesting: tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain playing Steve Smith's drums during a soundcheck:

Yep, he's got it!

And here's Zakir in his usual element with a tabla solo from the Berklee College of Music:


15. Steve Fidyk offers this uptempo brushes demonstration:


16. Larnell Lewis with his composition "The Forgotten Ones":

17. Swiss jazz drumming great Daniel Humair in a 1961 solo spot:

18. Very rare footage of Canadian drummer Claude Ranger, playing here with Edmonton's PJ Perry, recorded during the early 1990s:

19. Looking for something to practice? Play along with these guys!!!

Thank you Mr. Carter and Christian McBride for sharing these!

20. I distinctly remember when I bought my reissued CD copy of Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland twenty five years ago at the HMV located in Regina's Southland Mall, featuring Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Charli Persip and Philly Joe Jones. Here's Philly's incredible brush solo feature from this epic drum summit:


21. What am I listening to these days?

Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry "Proximity" - Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Beaver Harris "African Drums" - Beaver Harris (drums)

Quincy Davis "Q Vision" - Quincy Davis (drums)

Dizzy Gillespie with Sonny Stitt & Sonny Rollins "Duets" - Charli Persip (drums)

Gerry Gibbs, Kenny Barron & Ron Carter "Thrasher Dream Trio" - Gerry Gibbs (drums)

Tony Willians "Young at Heart" - Tony Williams (drums)

Bobby Wiens "Talking Drums" - Bobby Wiens (drums)

Steve Reich "Drumming"

22. And today's Final Word(s) go to...

...veteran Toronto bassist Dave Young with these words of wisdom in this wonderfully written piece from the CBC entitled 9 Valuable Lessons I've Learned During my Life in Jazz

...and to conclude this week's column, a short film narrated by the late Neil Peart: