Thursday, February 27, 2020

Alvin Queen "Ashanti"

Alvin Queen recently shared this solo drum track on his Facebook page from his 1981 album of the same name and I think it is amazing!

I had the pleasure of hearing Alvin Queen play with Oscar Peterson in New York City at Birdland in 2004 (it was, in fact, the only occasion in which I heard Peterson play live...)

The set started with Queen entering the stage and starting off the set by himself with a spectacular drum solo, launching into a powerful 2nd Line groove. Bassist Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen and guitarist Ulf Wakenius then joined him on stage, setting up a hard swinging groove while Peterson was wheeled over to the piano in his wheelchair. The quartet then launched into some of the most joyous music I've ever heard...

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - February 2020

Somebody recently asked me: "Jon, what IS a Monday Morning Paradiddle anyways???"

Well, that's a very good question!

(Do other rudiments get their own day of the week too?)

I don't really have a good answer for you BUT I've really enjoyed following Rod Pedersen's NHL/CFL sports blog for a number of years now and he calls his weekly column to start off the week the Monday Morning Goalie and I kind of liked the sound of that and thought it was catchy. Anyways, nothing really all that earth shattering but it is what it is...

So here's what's making the rounds around Four on the Floor world headquarters these days:

- Two very important and equally amazing drummers recently passed away: ECM icon Jon Christensen and Boston's Bob Gullotti. Both drummers had very unique and creative styles and both influenced many other drummers.

Here's Nate Chinen's piece on Jon Christensen from WBGO and also a feature on Bob Gullotti.

I didn't really know Gullotti very well but we spoke over the phone extensively about ten years ago and he was a big help with my doctoral dissertation and research into the concept of melodic jazz drumming.

- Here's a couple of great pieces from DRUM! Magazine including Antonio Sanchez on his current cymbal set-up and an older 2017 feature on Jeff Tain Watts entitled "Soul of a Drummer, Mind of a Composer".

- Todd Bishop continues to offer great content over at his fine blog Cruiseship Drummer including a thought provoking article on snare drumming vs. drum set playing and dealing with bad time.

Todd also offers this excellent summary of a clinic he recently attended at Portland State University featuring none other than the great Billy Hart.

Oh yes, while you're at it...make sure to buy one of Todd's wonderful books while you are perusing his fine blog Cruiseship Drummer.

- Thanks to Jim Johnston who shared this wonderful photo essay entitled The Voyage of the Drum: from Africa to the Americas

- Ever wonder how Zildjian makes their cymbals? Dig this:

- Quincy Davis is back with another instalment of his Q-Tip series, this time addressing how to play practical and good sounding drum fills:

- Lewis Nash from a recent masterclass at the Hartt School of Music:

- Leon Parker in a solo feature with bassist Ugonna Okegwo's quartet from a recent hit at New York's Smoke:

- Jason Marsalis from his ongoing solo drum series:

- Colleen Clark and her band perform Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" (check this out!):

- Stanton Moore with the LSU Drumline featuring some groovy drum set/drumline combos:

- VSU's Hans Verhoeven offers some tips on developing a good groove using a metronome:

- Aubrey Dale with some Max Roach solo ideas:

- Those who have seen me play around town know of my occasional use of a Gretsch 16x12 inch bass drum (which used to be a 16x16 floor tom that I purchased from Montreal's Norman Marshall Villeneuve then promptly converted into a bass drum!) The hardworking and insightful folks over at Sounds Like a Drum bring us these tuning strategies for these small wonders:

- Brushmaster Clayton Cameron interviewed by Sean J. Kennedy in his podcast Backstage at the Enharmonic:

- Master drummer Jimmy Cobb interviewed by the Drum Channel (but where's Part Two???):

- What am I listening to these days?

Elvin Jones Trio "Live at the Village Vanguard" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Miles Davis "Miles in the Sky" - Tony Williams (drums)

Mark Anthony Turnage "Fractured Lines" - Peter Erskine (drums), Evelyn Glennie (percussion)

Gerry Gibbs Sextet featuring Ravi Coltrane "The Thrasher" - Gerry Gibbs (drums)

Joe Lovano "Quartets" - Lewis Nash (drums), Billy Hart (drums)

- And today's Final Word(s) go to two esteemed gentlemen including filmmaker David Lynch and renowned drum teacher Michael Carvin:

"Ideas are like fish.

If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper.

Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They're huge and abstract. And they're very beautiful.

I look for a certain kind of fish that is important to me, one that can translate to cinema. But there are all kinds of fish swimming down there. There are fish for business, fish for sports. There are fish for everything.

Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness - your awareness - is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch."

- from David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish

"Stop listening to what you're playing and pay close attention to what you are doing!"

- Michael Carvin (via George Coleman Jr.)

Okay that's all I've got today. See you next time!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Gerry Gibbs!

I was only vaguely aware of drummer/composer Gerry Gibbs until I befriended him on the Facebook but I very quickly became a huge fan. I initially knew that he was the son of the legendary vibraphonist Terry Gibbs but once I was introduced to his eclectic musical world I've been very impressed and inspired by his wide and diverse approach to music. With projects ranging from trios with the likes of Kenny Barron and Ron Carter to big bands and electric tributes to Weather Report, Gerry Gibbs (aka "The Thrasher") covers a lot of imaginative musical terrain.

Fortunately for us, Gibbs has recently created the Gerry Gibbs Drum Channel over at the YouTube which contains a collection of incredible original compositions, all featuring his impressive and creative drumming.

Check these out as their are lots of cool and unique things going on here:

Gerry also has another YouTube channel that contains many great clips of various performances from throughout his career.

Also here's a recent interview with Gibbs from last summer from ArkivJazz in which he talks about his latest recording project Our People and an older 2015 interview from Modern Drummer magazine.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Jeff Williams

And...we're back.

New York's Jeff Williams is an incredible drummer and a formidable composer who's been around and whose extensive resume speaks for itself. He is a really unique drummer who plays and writes like no one else.

Here's a series of interviews with Jeff in which he speaks to some formative experiences from working with the Masters:

And here's a 2019 feature from NPR and then a brief drum solo to finish up today's blog post:

Friday, February 7, 2020

Zildjian: Then & Now

If you are into cymbals (like I am...) then this is the blog post for you! 

Originally founded in Turkey, the Zildjian cymbal company was established in the year 1623. Passed down through generations, Zildjian continues to make amazing cymbals that are played by the world's greatest drummers and percussionists.

The nice people over at the Avedis Zildjian cymbal company (in conjunction with the Memphis Drum Shop) recently released this series of YouTube videos featuring Paul Francis and John Riley.  In these segments they talk about the legacy of cymbal making at Zildjian as well as the background behind their signature cymbal lines (such as their Avedis, A, Kerope and K Constantinople cymbals).

There is a wealth of knowledge and information to be found here. Please take the time to check these out and learn something about the great cymbals that Zildjian is producing these days and some history behind these amazing instruments.

And on a personal related/unrelated note....I recently acquired this somewhat hard to find 20" inch K Constantinople Flat Ride that I am particularly fond of. It took me some hunting around to find it but I'm sure glad that I did as it's a really nice cymbal!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Elvin's Wisdom 2.0

More great wisdom from Emperor Jones himself with special thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along these quotes, compiled by Norman Grossman.

A per usual, when the Masters speak, we listen!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Lewis Nash: In Focus

Drummer Lewis Nash has always been a personal favourite of my mine. His deep sense of swing and his commitment to the music has long played an important role and influence on my own drumming.

Today we offer a diverse collection of videos and articles which feature this important musician.

- A recent feature with Lewis Nash from PBS Arizona where he talks extensively about his career and his approach to the drums:

- Here is a series of articles from Ted Panken featuring interviews originally published in Downbeat magazine plus two interviews from WKCR

- An older one from the early 2000s but pretty spectacular none-the-less, a Nash-led band featuring Regina Carter, Steve Wilson, Kenny Barron and Peter Washington:

- And finally, here's a brief glimpse of a "percussion discussion" between Lewis Nash and Matt Wilson from the Oregon Coast Jazz Party: