Thursday, May 28, 2020

Steve Fidyk "Battle Lines"

Drummer, composer, author and educator Steve Fidyk recently released his third solo recording entitled Battle Lines featuring a stellar line-up of musicians on a diverse and dynamic program of tunes.

Steve was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his recent recording project.

Steve Fidyk Battle Lines - Four on the Floor Interview May 2020

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

First off, thank you for hosting such an incredible jazz resource in Four on the Floor. The drumming community has benefited greatly from your insights and contributions. I appreciate the opportunity to answer some questions on my latest recording Battle Lines, which features Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Xavier Perez (tenor saxophone), Peter Zak (piano) and Michael Karn on bass. At the session, we managed to lay down a total of eleven compositions, of which seven were originals of mine.

This was the first solo recording I’ve done in about four years, and it’s representative of experiences that have occurred throughout my life during this time. For example, in 2017, I closed my position as drummer with the Army Blues Big Band after 21 years. So many of the experiences I’ve had working with them helped shape my style and personal sound. The same year I left the Blues, I lost my father (and mother shortly there after) which contributed to the emotional aspects that you can hear on the recording. One of the selections I dedicate to my parents, a ballad called Lullaby for Lori and John which was a very emotional experience for me.

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

For any project I put together, I try to build on experiences and concepts that I learned since my last one. For me, it’s all a process of progress that takes place in very small increments. I like mixing up the instrumentation, using the group and its players personalities to help create different moods in the music. I grew up on 70s pop, so my music reflects that influence as well as the tradition of players that have forged the way for all of us. The rhythmic language or vernacular I strive for in my playing (and compositions) is equal parts modern and traditional with a tendency to lean towards the blues feeling.

The musicians featured on Battle Lines are consummate professionals that I have worked with in different musical settings over the years. Xavier Perez for example is a member of the Army Blues. He’s the musical director and holds the tenor one chair - a great player with traditional roots that can also stretch and play very modern. His eighth notes have a special feel to them that work well with my ride cymbal beat interpretation. I played with Joe Magnarelli on a Positone record date for tenor saxophonist Doug Webb, and in big band settings like the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia. We’re also teaching colleagues at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Every note Joe plays comes from the heart. He’s one of the finest jazz trumpeter’s on the scene today and I’m very grateful for his contributions to this recording.

Both Peter Zak and Michael Karn I met through my association with tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf. We were the rhythm section on two of Walt’s recordings—Open Road and Fountain of Youth. Both players elevate my playing and are extremely conversational in their approach to rhythm. Together, they both generate a propulsion and lift in the music that is exciting and fun to play with.

The music of Eddie Harris, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker and Blue Mitchell are also featured prominently throughout the recording. This year, we celebrate the centennial of both Parker and Brubeck, so I felt it was appropriate to include music from each. I also have a kinship with the music of Dave Brubeck from my years of studying with Joe Morello. I felt strongly about including an Eddie Harris tune because his music has that blues element we talked about earlier, coupled with funk— modern, yet traditional...I feel the same about the music of Blue Mitchell. A very underrated trumpeter and composer in my opinion.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

Battle Lines is my third solo project, and for each I try to mix up the instrumentation and players. On my first recording which featured Terell Stafford and Tim Warfield, the only comping instrument was guitar, which can produce a thinner, more transparent texture. My second recording featured the prominent sound of Brian Charette on organ, which helped to reflect the blues and funk feeling of the music from that set. For Battle Lines, I thought I would strive for a more traditional rhythm section set-up with the addition of Peter on piano. We played a few dates a month earlier with Walt Weiskopf and it felt strong and steady as usual, so I pulled the trigger and put together a group with that centerpiece in mind.

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

My tune titles tend to shed light or expose the politics in our society and government. I’m not a political person, but performing and living in the Washington DC area for so many years has influenced my outlook for sure.

5) Who are your influences with regards to your style of writing and playing?

I like a good strong melody that hooks the listener, much like a pop tune would. My compositions are simple vehicles for improvisation. If a horn player has fun improvising over the progression I came up with, then I feel like I did my job. Playing in the moment, listening, interacting and initiating conversation are essential elements for my music. Early drumming influences included Buddy Rich who was the first jazz drummer I saw perform when I was eight years old. Next came the music of Dave Brubeck, which was anchored by Eugene Wright and Joe Morello. The journey of influence and discovery is still continuing today.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

I continue to work on maintenance exercises for tone and dynamic balance at the kit (fundamentals). I've also been experimenting with polyrhythms orchestrated between my hands and feet, improvising on both sides of the polyrhythm simultaneously. I recently posted a video to social media demonstrating the concept with 5:4—improvising in 5 with my hands while my feet stay in 4 (*see below*).

Recently, I’ve been listening to the new Tom Misch/Yussef Dayes record which has some very cool tunes and grooves. Chris Dave’s groups also produce very funky and creative music. Gretchen Parlato’s band with Mark Giuliana have a very cool sound with interesting arrangements and original compositions that focus on melody and meter. All of these musicians are changing the landscape of modern music.

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

This recording is on a new record label I formed— Blue Canteen Music. We’re very proud to partner with Warrior Beat, a nonprofit veterans organization that helps to enrich the lives of military veterans suffering from PTSD and anxiety from long deployments. Blue Canteen Music is donating a portion of the proceeds from each CD sold to help purchase hand drums for use in drum circles and music therapy. For more information on this wonderful organization, please visit www.bluecanteenmusic.com 

8) How does the drums and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

It’s been pointed out to me (mainly by horn players) that my tunes have interesting rhythmic ideas and counterpoint, with listenable melodies. It’s a natural extension because I’ve been playing drums for so long. Each composition I write is different, in that sometimes I begin with a chord progression, sometimes a bass line, sometimes a drum groove and sometimes a melody. It all depends on the mood I’m in.

9) What drummers (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

This would be an excellent opportunity to acknowledge my teachers. Without there help, advice and guidance, it would be very difficult to navigate the musical terrain I find myself in—Angelo Stella, Ed Soph, Joe Morello, Bob Grauso, Kim Plainfield, John Riley and Ralph Peterson were all very patient and encouraging to me throughout the journey. Unfortunately, some of these men have left us, so I try to carry on their message through my music and teaching.

I’m influenced by so many, but it all started with my parents. They provided opportunities and encouragement to study music and believe in myself. I’ve had so much help along the way, it would be impossible for me to list everyone.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and jazz drummers?

It’s important to study and learn as much about the drums and the music you inspire to play. It takes dedication and lots of hard work, and even then, goals and aspirations are sometimes not met to a players expectation. You have to really LOVE the instrument and listen to musicians that have more experience in order to grow. Study with a reputable teacher in your community and trust what they are giving you to practice and EXCEED their expectations by being prepared and asking questions. The path to success isn't always a straight line, but you learn something about the music and yourself from every twist and turn.

For more information about Steve Fidyk and his music, please visit www.bluecanteenmusic.com

Monday, May 25, 2020


Someone recently remarked to me that despite the dire circumstances that our planet currently faces, great and creative things were bound to emerge. I fully agree with this statement and any quick survey of any social media platform will instantly reveal many talented artists putting their creativity to good work these days.

Kendrick Scott deserves a medal for coordinating and producing this incredible compilation of 39 contemporary jazz drummers (!) all playing over Thelonious Monk's Evidence.

In a way, I feel this is like the 2020 jazz drumming version of the NBA/NHL All-Star games!

Check it out:


Jeff Hamilton
Rodney Green
Mekhi Boone
Quincy Phillips
Savannah Harris
Ted Poor
Craig Weinrib
Ulysses Owens Jr.
Johnathan Blake
Allison Miller
Jeremy Dutton
Matt Wilson
Marcus Gilmore
Marcus Baylor
Nate Wood
Kendrick Scott
Anwar Marshall
Kassa Overall
Dan Weiss
Kush Abadey
E.J. Strickland
Corey Fonville
John Riley
Johnathan Pinson
Mark Guiliana
Eric Harland
Henry Cole
Terreon Gully
Jamison Ross
Christian Lillinger
Ralph Peterson Jr.
Kojo Roney
Antonio Sanchez
Justin Brown
Obed Calvaire
Dafnis Prieto
Rudy Royston
Justin Faulkner

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" 

- African Proverb (via Kendrick Scott)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Tony Williams Drum Clinic - Boston 1982

Big thanks to Adam Nussbaum who recently shared this one!

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

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - May 2020

And...we're back.

Well, not much has changed lately and most of us are still stuck at home these days. It's just going to take some patience to get through this all.

However, if you can do so, perhaps use this time as an opportunity for artistic growth and renewal. Consider practicing something new that you've been meaning to get to on the drums, listen to some new music, write new compositions for a future project, practice the piano, change your drumheads, work on your rudiments, play the brushes, read books, etc. In the words of writer Austin Kleon, the most important thing is to Keep Going in whatever way works best for you (oh yes, and don't forget to keep your distance and wash your hands!)

Onwards & Upwards.

Thanks again for all your support. I'd love to hear from you all (any comments? requests?) Please feel free to drop me a line at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com anytime or contact me through my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages (see the links at the side of the page).

Okay, so now on with the show! Here's what's on the program for the May edition of The Monday Morning Paradiddle column:

- A BBC feature on the late Afro-Beat drumming legend Tony Allen

- Jazz.org offers The Pulse of Jazz - An Introduction to Jazz Drums; a great, brief intro and playlist highlighting the dynamic history and evolution of jazz drumming

- Nick Fraser is one of Toronto's busiest jazz drummers but he still had time for an interview and feature with The Jazz Hole, discussing many of the creative projects he's currently involved with

- Stewart Copeland interviewed by Rolling Stone Magazine on life in quarantine and remembering his friend Neil Peart

 - JazzTimes magazine offers this Before & After feature with Kendrick Scott and Dave King, Jeff Tain Watts and Terri Lyne Carrington speak to The Plight of the Drummer-Composer

- Adam Nussbaum interviewed by 60 Minuten. Here's Part 1 and Parts 2 & 3

And also another older 2018 Q&A feature with Nussbaum from Downbeat Magazine

- Check this out: here's Chick Corea talking about the significance of the iconic flat ride cymbal that Roy Haynes played on Corea's 1968 trio masterpiece "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs":

- John DeChristopher continues with his acclaimed Live from my Living Room series, this time featuring Peter Erskine and Adam Nussbaum:

- Jazz Student Culture offers this interview with Antonio Sanchez:

- Bill Stewart interviewed by Pablo Held Investigates:

- Ari Hoenig interviewed via the Konnakol: Interviews & Insights with the Masters series:

- A rare excerpt from a masterclass with Joey Baron:

- UNT's Quincy Davis is back with another episode of his always informative Q-Tip of the Week series, this time featuring the art of playing stick shots:

- Joe Farnsworth is interviewed by Dispatches from the Social Distance and offers a swinging solo drum interpretation of Neil Hefti's "Cute":

- Here's an extended excerpt of the very rare Ed Thigpen/Ray Brown drum & bass instructional LP "Be Our Guest":

- From tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel's Standards with Friends series, here is Wendel with drummer/multi-instrumentalist Nate Wood on Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait":


- And finally, here's the great Jabali Billy Hart engaging in some dynamic trading with Kenny Werner on piano:


- What am I listening to these days?

Stan Getz "Live at Montmartre"- Billy Hart (drums)

Bill Evans/Stan Getz "Stan Getz & Bill Evans " - Elvin Jones (drums)

Sonny Stitt & Barry Harris "Tune Up!" - Alan Dawson (drums)

Lucky Thompson "Lucky Strikes" - Connie Kay (drums)

Sonny Stitt "Meets Oscar Peterson" - Ed Thigpen/Stan Levey (drums)

Sonny Criss "The Beat Goes On" - Alan Dawson (drums)

Coleman Hawkins with the Red Garland Trio "Swingville" - Specs Wright (drums)

Pat Collins Trio "Time Well Spent"

WC Anderson "Wait & See: Currents from Spirits" - Chad Anderson (drums & cymbals)

- And today's Final Word goes to my friend Kimberley Cooper, Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, with these inspiring words of hope, optimism and creative fortitude, offered on the occasion of International Dance Day, which was recently celebrated on April 29th.

While this poem was presented to her fellow constituents in the jazz dance world, I feel that these words are also very relevant to us jazz drummers and all the creative types out there who are currently bound by the current circumstances.

My Fellow Dancers,

don’t forget
what we have in us

how it feels to get down and to soar
to laugh and cry with our bodies
and how we can physically speak in ways even poetry can’t

don’t forget
and what it feels like to sync with other bodies
harmonize breath
to take up space
to embody music
the deliciousness of becoming those beats, that riff, that groove

how history lives through us
that our blood, muscles and bones carry deep knowledge
that we are alchemists, inventers, shape shifters

how watching us move can change how people think, feel, live
that many envy us
the richness of our lives, what burns in us
as we do not sit idle
but when we do, we can express a 500-page novel with our little fingers

know that in whatever comes, we will be looked upon for comfort and solutions

don’t forget
to keep listening
to whatever lights that fire
your pulse, wind, white noise, jazz music

to trust our ancestors
real and imagined
that through war and famine
through enslavement and desolation
through thick and thin
dance has survived
it will always be ours

to confide in that elusive in the moment magic we have in us and always will
in how we walk
how we hold our heads
and in my circles, how we can’t help but to respond to music

please don’t forget
this thing we have
in this moment
it may be contained
it may be resting
but it’s in us and it will rise again

- Kimberley Cooper, Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (and a lovely soul!)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Tim Mah's Notable 2020 Album Releases by Drummers (so far!)

Frequent Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah returns today, this time offering his list of notable, recent album released by jazz drummers in 2020 (so far...) from around the world.

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.

Tim Mah's Notable 2020 Album Releases from Drummers (so far!)

Since the Four on the Floor blog is dedicated to jazz drumming, here’s a list of international (non-Canadian) drummers who have released new music through April 2020. This list (in alphabetical order) is not exhaustive. Please refer to my previous post about new releases from Canadian artists for Canadian drummers.

Chad Taylor released an album called “The Daily Biological” featuring Brian Settles and Neil Podgurski.  He and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis also released “Live in Willisau.” He is a member of the Chicago Underground Quartet that released a new album called “Good Days.”

This is the audio for “Untethered” from “The Daily Biological” recorded by the Chad Taylor Trio:

Ferenc Nemeth released an album called “Freedom” with Gregory Tardy and Tzumo Arpad. He’s also a member of the trio Gilfema which released a new album called “Three.” Gilfema includes guitarist Lionel Loueke and bassist Massimo Biolcati. His album received the Independent Music Award in the Jazz Instrumental category.

Below is the audio for Ferenc Nemeth’s “Freedom”:

Jeremy Cunningham released his debut album called “The Weather Up There,” which was co-produced by Jeff Parker and Paul Bryan. The album features several guests from the Chicago jazz music scene.

Below is the video for “The Weather Up There”:

Jim Black released “Reckon,” which is his fourth album with his trio (with Elias Stemeseder and Thomas Morgan).

Here is the audio for “Tripped Overhue”:

Kassa Overall’s new album, called “I Think I’m Good,” combines his jazz and hip-hop sensibilities. It features several guests, including Joel Ross, Theo Croker, Aaron Parks, Sullivan Fortner and Vijay Iyer, to name a few.

Below is the audio for “Show Me a Prison (featuring J Hoard & Angela Davis)”:

Lada Obradovic and pianist David Tixier (of the Obradovic-Tixier Duo) released a new album called “The Boiling Stories of a Smoking Kettle.” Lada Obradovic appears in the Netflix series “The Eddy,” where she plays the drummer in the band.

Below is the official video for “Dear You”:

Makaya McCraven transforms Gil Scott-Heron’s last album (2010’s “I’m New Here”) with his lastest album called “We’re New Again – A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven”.

This is the audio for “I’m New Here”, off the new album:

London drummer and producer Moses Boyd released his first full-length album called “Dark Matter.” His previous work includes albums with saxophonist Binker Golding (the duo called Binker and Moses).

Below is the video for “Shades of You" (featuring Poppy Ajudah):

While we wait for his next Kinfolk album, Nate Smith released an EP called “Light and Shadow.”

Below is the video for “Start Over” (featuring Jermaine Holmes and James Francies; written by Amma Whatt):

Ted Poor released “You Already Know,” featuring saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo:

Bonus Albums!

Jochen Rueckert released “Stars and Garters,” featuring Brian Charette, Chris Cheek, Yotam Silberstein and Jeff Miles: https://jochenrueckert.bandcamp.com/album/stars-and-garters

Instead of the drums, Gerald Cleaver plays electronics on his new album called “Signs”: https://577records.bandcamp.com/album/signs

Tyshawn Sorey collaborates with violinist Jennifer Curtis (International Contemporary Ensemble) on the freely improvised album called “Invisible Ritual”: https://newfocusrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/jennifer-curtis-tyshawn-sorey-invisible-ritual

Here is a sample entitled “Invisible Ritual: II.”:

Bobby Previte offers "Music from the Early 21st Century" featuring Jamie Saft and Nels Cline:

WC Anderson (aka Chad Anderson) offers "Wait & See: Currents from Spirits", a powerful sonic solo drum adventure: https://wcanderson.bandcamp.com/releases

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Joe Farnsworth Remembers Max Roach

Okay, just drop whatever it is you are doing and watch this...

In my opinion Joe Farnsworth is really knocking it out of the park with this series, which so far includes Billy Higgins, Art Taylor, Harold Mabern, Roy Haynes and this latest instalment featuring Max Roach. Joe's enthusiasm and respect for our elders is matched by his knowledge and deep understanding of their contributions to the art form.

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

Monday, May 11, 2020


I love to play the brushes.

I also love watching other people play the brushes and listening to them share their own unique approach to playing this beautiful instrument. Fortunately for us, there are many great brush players in the world today that we can learn from, if we choose to pay attention.

In today's lengthy blog post (like hey I've certainly got the time these days!) I'd like to offer a few of my favourite resources for brush playing on the world wide web. This is not intended to be an absolute, complete list (and I apologize if I didn't include any worthy constituents...) Instead, this is just a humble offering of things I've seen and heard that have inspired me to keep sweeping...

- Ed Thigpen's drumming with the Oscar Peterson Trio was my first introduction to brush playing. His book The Essence of Brushes was an important source of information for me when I was a teenager.

I actually met Ed Thigpen once, briefly an IAJE Conference in Anaheim, California in 1995. He was nice enough to walk me through a basic brush pattern while manning the Remo booth in the convention area. He was a real gentleman.

- Andrew Dickeson offers this collection of uptempo brush playing examples to study and play-a-long with, conveniently compiled in this extensive Spotify playlist (thank you Andrew!)

- Apparently Philly Joe Jones recorded 18 brush solos over the course of his career (?) and this YouTube user compiled them all into one extended video:

Now, I am a bit sceptical that this represents ALL of Philly's recorded brush soloing legacy but I could be wrong. I will defer to the experts on this one *paging Kenny Washington!* Please let me know if you come across any others.

Anyways, regardless if it's complete or not, it's still a really good collection to check out, transcribe and study. Here is his accompanying playlist to consider (now get to work!)

Philly Joe Jones Brush Solos: 1955 - 1968

1- Awful Mean : Paul Chambers “Go” , 1959
2- Blueinet : Evans Bradshaw “Look Out for Evans Bradshaw!”, 1958 
3- Hello Bright Sunflower: Donald Byrd “The Cat Walk”, 1961 
4- Here’s That Rainy Day: Philly Joe Jones “Mo’Joe”, 1968 intro + solo 
5- I’m Confessin’ : John Graas “Westlake Bounce”, 1957 intro + trades 
6- Joe’s Delight: Philly Joe Jones “Showcase”, 1959 
7- John’s Abbey: Bud Powell “Time Waits”, 1958 
8- The Loop: Dick Johnson ”Most Likely…” 1957 
9- Monopoly: Bud Powell “Time Waits”, 1958 
10- Neat Foot: John Graas “Westlake Bounce”, 1957 
11- On Green Dolphin Street: Bill Evans “On Green Dolphin Street” 1959 
12- Paul’s Pal: Sonny Rollins “Tenor Madness”, 1956 
13- Sneakin’ Around: Betty Carter & Ray Bryant “Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant”, 1955 
14- Soft Winds: Chet Baker “Chet Baker in New York”, 1958 
15- Sub City: Bud Powell “Time Waits”, 1958 
16- Tadd’s Delight (alternate take): Sonny Clark “Sonny Clark Trio”, 1957 
17- Threesome: Betty Carter & Ray Bryant “Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant”, 1955 
18- What Is This Thing Called Love: Betty Carter & Ray Bryant “Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant”, 1955

- Adam Nussbaum is one of the world's great brush players (and a really nice guy!) The nice people over at the Avedis Zildjian Company recently offered this short but insightful brush lesson featuring Adam on their Instagram page (you might have to log in to view this properly...):

Adam was also recently interviewed by Hudson Music's Rob Wallis, offering some brush tips and they also revisit the DVD The Art of Playing with Brushes. This DVD is an incredible resource that features the likes of Nussbaum and Steve Smith along with Billy Hart, Ben Riley, Eddie Locke, Charli Persip and Joe Morello. This should be considered a must have resource for anyone who is serious about playing the brushes.

Here's an example from the DVD, in which Adam demonstrates some basic strokes:

- JazzHeaven.com has been very busy lately, offering regular on-line masterclasses with a diverse compliment of contemporary jazz artists. There is always great information and things to learn here! Ralph Peterson Jr.'s  Jazz Drumming Demystified, in particular, is a great resource and I wish I had access to this sort of information 25 years ago...Here's an excerpt from Ralph's exceptional series featuring his approach to brush playing:

- Clayton Cameron offers this article entitled Brush Methods of the Masters via DRUM! Magazine

- I was watching Jason Tiemann's masterclasses on Facebook awhile ago and he is not only an exceptional player but a very articulate teacher too. Here's a clip of Jason demonstrating the "Conventional" brush stroke pattern (this is always a good place to start):

- I always look forward to UNT professor Quincy Davis' instalments of his Q-Tip series. Check out this previous episode in which he addresses many important brush essentials:

- Alan Dawson was a Master drum teacher and playing with the brushes was very much a part of his pedagogy.

Here is a grainy clip of Dawson demonstrating his approach to the brushes:

And here he is playing his legendary Rudimental Ritual with brushes (aka this is a chop buster!):

- No conversation about the brushes is complete without mentioning the great Jeff Hamilton. In this video Hamilton stresses the importance of using lateral/horizontal strokes when playing the brushes, to achieve a bigger sound.

- Portland's Mel Brown demonstrates the patterns found in the legendary Philly Joe Jones brush instruction booklet Brush Artistry:

- I've always really admired Marty Morell's brush work with the Bill Evans trio. Watch this two-part series in which Morell demonstrates his own personal approach:

- Kenny Washington has always been one of my personal favourite brush players. His touch, phrasing and sense of dynamics never disappoint and always impress (with sticks too I might add!) Here is a segment in which Washington switches to the brushes for a brief solo:

Be sure to check out Kenny's playing with Bill Charlap's trio and on Tommy Flanagan's album Jazz Poet (dig his uptempo brush work on "Mean Streets" heyyyooo!)

- Drumeo offers this hour-long brush lesson with Peter Erskine. I am always impressed by Erskine's articulate nature, his light touch and attention to sound:

With Erskine, it's always "all music...all the time!"

- Ted Warren (author of the always informative blog Trap'd) is an incredible brush player who is continuously exploring and expanding the creative and musical possibilities of the brushes and the drum set as a whole. Ted has been offering examples of this on his blog for many years now (I really wish Ted would write a book or something about his brush patterns!)

Check out these cool and inventive patterns and ideas with brushes:

Check out the archives of Ted's blog and his YouTube channel for many more great ideas and unique brush patterns.

Ted Warren is one of the most creative and musical drummers I know. In fact, why not check out his live-stream solo concert this coming Wednesday, May 13th 5pm EST on his Instagram page (*and you're welcome Ted...you can repay me in slices of Western Pizza! No pineapple please. The Sauce is Boss!)

- Check out this new brush series by Greg Hutchinson from Open Studio:

Ulysses Owens Jr. (who also hosts several great jazz drumming instructional programs through Open Studio) offers this quick brush tutorial:

- And finally, let's all take a moment to appreciate the artistry of Jo Jones:

Without him, there's no us!

(didn't Max Roach say something to that effect?)

Okay, that's all for today. Now grab your pair of brushes and go practice!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Idris Muhammad Solo!

Just a brief one today featuring the late, great Idris Muhammad in a solo spot from a trio engagement with Joe Lovano and bassist Cameron Brown:

It's not a long solo by any means but he sure packs a lot in there. It's swinging, it's grooving, he's got the Max Roach hi-hat thing going on and he also throws in a brilliant nod to his New Orleans roots (how about that 2nd Line bass drum beat and those buzz strokes/press rolls?) Whew!

Anyways, I bring all this up because he's clearly having fun and not afraid to mash up all his influences into a dynamic package. You can hear all these different elements come into play in a relatively short amount of time but, at the end of the day, he doesn't sound like anyone but himself and he just goes for it.

Something to think about indeed....just go for it!

Monday, May 4, 2020

George Lawrence Stone meets Ghana

I first met percussionist Russell Hartenberger at the Banff Centre 20 years ago and had the opportunity to study with him over the course of my artist residency during the fall of 1999. He was an inspirational teacher back then and he would later serve as my thesis advisor during my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, almost fifteen years later.

During our many lessons together, Russell gave me these written out snare drum exercises. These are all based on bell and drum patterns found in the Ghanaian drumming styles of Gahu and Agbekor except they are interpreted using accented single, double and paradiddle sticking patterns, much like the sticking patterns you'd expect to find in George Lawrence Stone's Stick Control or Accents and Rebounds.

Here they are:

(*sorry folks these photocopies are twenty years old!*)

Perhaps listening and playing these patterns along to the Ghanian grooves themselves would be a good idea as well (see below!)

If you do this correctly, I find that practicing sticking and accent patterns in this manner really helps get your head out of the technique side of things and allows you to think about how the patterns themselves are supposed to flow and fit into a groove.

Incidentally, Jason Marsalis once told me that he would spend time playing the rudiments on a drum pad while playing along with recordings. The goal being to play them in a relaxed manner and to get them to swing/groove/feel good. Furthermore, he also mentioned that he would often try to match the eighth-note feel of the rudiment he was playing with to that of the musicians on the recording he was drumming along with (ie. Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc.)

btw - the photo of the drummer at the top is of Abraham Adzenyah (whom I also studied with briefly at the Banff Centre over the course of another summer workshop...) Adzenyah is an influential Master drummer and teacher from Ghana and served on the faculty at Wesleyan University for many years.