Thursday, April 30, 2020

Tim Mah's Canadian Jazz Releases of 2020 (so far!)

To commemorate UNESCO International Jazz Day (which also happens to be TODAY!) CJSW radio host and frequent Four on the Floor contributor Tim Mah offers this list of notable Canadian jazz albums, all released in 2020, so far this year.

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 available as a podcast on the CJSW website and through Apple Podcasts.

As usual, Tim has his ear to the ground and a great perspective as to what's happening in current jazz music today.

Tim Mah's New Jazz Music from Canadians in 2020 (so far!)

This is a great time to listen to new music from Canadians. Over the last few months, there have been over forty new releases, either led or co-led by Canadians. And there are more album releases planned during the remainder of the year. Here’s a list of 25 artists with new music, released over the last few months. Some artists have released more than one album over the last few months. This list (in alphabetical order) is not exhaustive; rather, this a starting point for readers.

Alex Goodman Impressions in Blue and Red

Andy Milne The reMission

David Lavoie Quartet Juno

Donnybrook (Ben Bishop, Jeff McLeod and Morgan Childs) Live at the Bassment

Emie R Roussel Trio Rythme de Passage

Ernesto Cervini Tetrahedron

Frank Lozano and Gentiane MG Convergence

Gordon Grdina NomadResist and Safar-E-Daroon

Harrison Squared Trout in Swimwear

ITACA 4et (François Houle, Nicola Fazzini, Alessandro Fedrigo and Nick Fraser) Vortex

Jean-Michel Leblanc Varietes Narratives

Jocelyn Gould Elegant Traveler

John Stetch Blue Canada

Levi Dover Levi Dover Sextet

Lina Allemano Glimmer Glammer and Rats and Mice

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

Mark Godfrey Square Peg

Peripheral Vision Irrational Revelation & Mutual Humiliation

Petr Cancura Another Way Home and Life is a Gong Show (under the band name Songs of Tales)

Rachel Therrien Vena

Redline Trio Redline Trio featuring Steve Hudson

Rob Clutton Offering and Counsel of Primaries

Sarah Rossy The Conclusion

See Through 4 Bog Standards and False Ghosts, Minor Fears

Webber/Morris Big Band (Anna Webber and Angela Morris) Both Are True

*Please check out the artist’s websites or find their music wherever you download music. To hear more, below are videos from a selection of the artists.

Alex Goodman “Choose”

Emie R Roussel Trio “Rythme de Passage”

Jocelyn Gould “It’s Alright With Me”

Lina Allemano’s Ohrenschmaus “Ostsee”

Mark Godfrey “Bucket List”

Webber/Morris Big Band “Coral”

Monday, April 27, 2020

DeJohnette Solo!

Just a brief one this morning but here's a clip of the great Jack DeJohnette from a 2018 performance at SFJAZZ with tap dancer Savion Glover.

I find it interesting (in this excerpt anyways...) that DeJohnette chose to focus mainly on the snare drum combined with accents on his bass drum and different cymbals, very occasionally extending to the tom toms. It is quite snare drum centric, but that's not a bad thing in my opinion. It's incredible how many different and exciting rhythmic colours, sounds and textures he is able to get out of his sonic choices (and in a limited amount of time, I may add!) His intention and musical ideas are intact and, in my opinion, sounds complete. And of course the sense of flow, phrasing, energy and momentum that he expresses speaks for itself. I'd love to hear this solo and this concert in its entirety and hear how he further develops his ideas in terms of the overall orchestration around the drum set (or maybe he doesn't!)

Anyways, I am going to blog more about this soon but this certainly lends itself to a conversation about how to get more from less, starting with your snare drum. Just because you have a lot of drums and cymbals in front of you, it doesn't mean you have to hit them all the time!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Chris Smith - The Drum Hang Vol. 7

It's been a minute but here's another batch of excellent lessons from Chris Smith and his YouTube series The Drum Hang. His lessons cover a wide range of practical and mature topics in the realm of jazz drumming and I find his explanations to be concise and clear. Highly recommended!

In particular, I find his lesson on orchestrating and articulating bebop melodies around the drums by means of specific sticking patterns to be challenging and useful in my own playing these days. The late Bob Gullotti was a huge proponent of this and it was central to his own teaching method as well.

If you are looking for things to practice and think about on the drums during these challenging times, this would certainly be a good place to start...

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - April 2020

Welcome back and thanks again for checking in. Hope you are all hanging in there despite our extraordinary circumstances these days.

As the great, late Clark Terry used to say: Keep on keepin' on!

I'd love to hear from you, whoever you are or wherever you may be. Please drop me a line anytime at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com or via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages (follow the links in the sidebar). We are all in this together!


Okay, so here are a few articles and pieces of interest. Some are recent, others not so much, but I think they are all interesting, inspiring and hopefully you will find them as such as well!

Here's what is on the docket for today's column:

- Great interviews with Adam Nussbaum and Lenny White with Michael Lake via his Vimeo channel

Here's a recent clip of Lenny White in trio action with Chris Potter and Buster Williams, celebrating his 70th birthday:

- Billy Martin interviewed by Joe Wong via the The Trap Set podcast

- Vinnie Sperrazza blogs on the legacy of Jo Jones

- CJSW's Gordon Fick recently featured the music of Paul Motian on an episode of his weekly jazz radio program Lift the Bandstand

- Joe Lovano also offers his thoughts on Paul Motian in this wonderful Jazz Times magazine article

I also found this clip with Lovano to be quite inspiring:

- Given the dramatic recent changes in our society and to our regular day-to-day activities and careers, many are trying to keep motivated and engaged in the music by keeping up a dedicated practice routine over the course of their self-isolation. Personally, I am trying to take advantage of this opportunity and work on musical ideas and concepts that have been eluding me for some time and, up until now, I just haven't had the opportunity to address (whether drumming, playing the vibes, composing, listening, etc.)

You don't have to post everything you do on Instagram or share constantly on social media, but the important thing is that you do something and keep going. I am a firm believer in trombonist/pianist Hugh Fraser's mantra that if you dedicate yourself to something in an honest way, the universe will notice!

Are you looking for something to practice? Drop me a line and we'll talk! (Alan Dawson's Rudimental Ritual might be a good place to start, just sayin'...)

Anyways, as I was getting to, some people have access to drums these days and many don't, but either way practicing on a drum pad is a viable option to keep your hands in shape and your mind in the music (if you do it right...)

The nice people over at TomTom Magazine offer this comprehensive Drum Pad Shootout, comparing many current models of drum pads currently on the market. There are lots of great options out there to consider in case you are looking.

Everyone on Instagram sure seems to like those Reflexx drum pads these days, but I have yet to play one myself. However, I am enjoying my DW Go Anywhere Practice Set  and Zildjian L80 low volume cymbals to play in the house while is my family is around and when I can't access my studio space in my garage out back.

For what it's worth, I recently put a bunch of rivets in my 18" and 20" Zildjian L80's and they are great!

- Speaking of practicing, studying and in the interest of the continuous daily betterment of ourselves as musicians and as people (Kaizen, ya dig?), Rakalam Bob Moses is now offering lessons via Skype. Consider connecting with him and learn from a Master. Check out these previews:

I really like his statement that "Music is medicine" and I think he's right! We could definitely use more doses of this kind of medicine these days...

- Joe Farnsworth continues with his wonderful series of videos, honouring the great jazz drummers. Check out his recent episode featuring the coolest and hippest man in the known universe Roy Haynes!

- Mike Clark is interviewed by Bang! The Drum School, speaking about his career and influences

-  Discussion in Percussion podcast interviews Bryan Carter

- Some rare bootleg footage of Philly Joe Jones and his band Dameronia circa. 1983:

- Jazz Congress 2020, held last January in New York City at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, hosted this panel discussion entitled "The New Sound of Jazz Drums" moderated by Mark Ruffin, featuring Willie Jones III, Shirazette Tinnin, Allison Miller, Karriem Riggins and Gregory Hutchinson:

- Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman will be releasing a new album this summer featuring Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and the dynamic Brian Blade on drums. This quartet was a highly influential group during the 1990s and at the peak of the so-called "Young Lions" era. I, for one, am really looking forward to hearing what they come up with this time.

- Some late 1980s footage of John Riley and percussionist Frankie Malabe driving the Bob Mintzer big band:

- Jason Marsalis has recently been offering on-line performances of his One Man Drums Show. Here is a sample of the creativity and musicality that one drummer can exhibit with even a basic drum and cymbal set-up:

- Allison Miller offers this ride cymbal and time keeping lesson via the 2020 Virtual Next Generation Jazz Festival:

- Ed Soph shares a great story about Alan Dawson and his introduction to a young Tony Williams:

- Quincy Davis interviews Peter Erskine for his always excellent Q-Tip series:

- And finally, some older but burning footage of Kirk MacDonald's quartet from a 2018 performance in Montreal featuring the late Harold Mabern on piano and Andre White on drums on Mabern's classic modal burner The Beehive:


- What am I listening to these days?

Art Farmer & Benny Golson "The Complete Jazztet Sessions" - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Lex Humphries, Roy McCurdy (drums)

Joe Lovano "Trio Tapestry" - Carmen Castaldi  (drums)

Elvin Jones Trio "On the Mountain" - Elvin Jones (drums)

Steve Nelson "Brothers Under the Sun" - Lewis Nash (drums), Steve Nelson (vibraphone)

Michael Davidson & Dan Fortin "Clock Radio" - Michael Davidson (vibraphone)

Sam Jones "The Bassist!"- Keith Copeland (drums)

Ryan Shaw and Jake Reed "Drum & Drummer" - Ryan Shaw, Jake Reed (drums)

- And today's Final Word(s) goes to two wise and esteemed gentlemen...

First off, Canadian astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station Colonel Christopher Hadfield offers his suggestions on dealing with self-isolation:

And finally, Matt Wilson offers this sage piece of sonic advice to keep in mind during these challenging times, complete with a swinging brush groove that, if you listen to it enough, will certainly swing you "out" of bad health ya dig?

"Clean Hands, Clear Heads and Open Hearts!" 

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Joe Morello India 1958

A big thank you and shout out to Steve Fidyk who recently shared (via Danny Gottlieb) this rare radio broadcast that documents a studio jam session between Joe Morello on drums and Sri Palani Subramania Pillai on mridangam (also with a brief appearance by Dave Brubeck on piano). This meeting took place during the Dave Brubeck Quartet's tour of India in 1958.

I was fortunate to take a lesson with Mr. Morello in Kingston, Ontario during the Fall of 2007. It was one of those life-changing drum lessons that started in the early afternoon and extended late into the evening. During our conversations together, Morello told me that this jam session, in particular, was one of the highlights of his career.

Check it out:

Monday, April 13, 2020

John Riley's Art of Bop Drumming

I hope you all had a nice Easter weekend and, despite the extraordinary circumstances that our planet currently faces, you are keeping your head up. Onwards and Upwards! To quote the mayor of Calgary, Alberta (Canada), Mayor Naheed Nenshi offers this motto in these challenging times: "Clean hands, clear heads and open hearts!"

Thanks to the nice people over at the Avedis Zildjian Company, John Riley offers this brilliant series of mini-lessons that cover a variety of topics and expand on his seminal jazz drumming text, The Art of Bop Drumming.

John is an accomplished and dynamic player and an educator who's knowledge of jazz drumming is matched by his extraordinary ability to breakdown and explain even the most complicated of concepts.

Check his informative lessons out here:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Jeff Hamilton: Rub-a-Dub Style

Thanks to the nice people over at the Memphis Drum Shop, Jeff Hamilton offers this great lesson on playing jazz drums with a "legato" approach (by mixing up double stroke and paradiddle patterns between the cymbals and drums and using lateral strokes) and the important influence of Mel Lewis and his legendary "Rub-a Dub" style of drumming:

Here's Jeff in action with a solo that demonstrates this approach using sticks and brushes:

And while we're at it, here's a handful of more great lessons to consider thanks to Jeff and the folks over at the Memphis Drum Shop:

Thanks Jeff!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Joe Farnsworth on Billy Higgins and Art Taylor

Joe Farnsworth offers his thoughts on the great Billy Higgins and Art Taylor in what is quickly becoming an ongoing series.

Personally, I consider myself fortunate to have heard many Master drummers play over the years such as Mr. Higgins, Elvin, Tony, Max, Roy, etc. but of course not nearly as frequently as others, such as Farnsworth did. In my humble opinion it's very important to seek out the observations of those devoted musicians who did have the opportunity to witness the Masters in action and interact with them on an on-going basis. For those of us who missed out...they are the link.

Check it out:

And here's the link to Episode Two in which he speaks at great length about his relationship with the great Art Taylor (*sorry folks, the embedding code doesn't seem to work for this one!)

And finally here is Joe's birthday tribute to the late Harold Mabern Jr. who would have celebrated his 84th birthday this March
(*in particular check out the great drums/saxophone duet between between Joe Farnsworth and Vincent Herring on Mabern's signature burner "The Beehive"!):

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Max Roach: The Art of the Drum Solo

A big shout out and thank you to Craig VanDerSchaegen who shared this amazing drum clinic with Max Roach on his blog Practicing Drummer.

If you click here you can also read a full transcript of Roach's masterclass.

Recorded in Saint Paul, MN in 1991, Max shares a lot of wisdom in this rare document:

And since many of us have a lot more time on our hands these days, here's a full-length documentary on Max Roach featuring interviews and performances with his groups:

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