Saturday, May 15, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring George Sluppick

Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, May 18th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring George Sluppick!


George Sluppick is an American drummer born in Memphis, Tennessee, specializing in blues, funk, soul and R&B music. In 1986, he graduated from Overton, a prestigious creative & performing arts high school, where he studied music theory, sang 2nd tenor in the concert choir and played drums for their award-winning gospel choir. Growing up in Memphis, he shared the stage with many legends, including BB King and Rufus Thomas and just one year after his high school graduation, he went on the road with blues guitarist, Albert King, which opened many doors allowing him to become a full-time musician. George was 19 years old.

He moved to San Diego, California in 1991 and quickly became a major player in the local music scene, which included a two-year gig drumming with 50’s revivalists, Sha Na Na, touring the U.S. and Japan. During their second Japanese tour, they recorded a live album which he is featured, titled Sha Na Na: Live in Japan, (Sony). In late ’99, he began touring with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, which lasted for three years and he is featured on Giving up the Ghost, (Magnatude). In 2003, he began drumming with North Florida’s MOFRO with whom he spent nearly five years touring the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia and is featured on three of their albums: Blackwater, Lochloosa and Country Ghetto (Alligator).

Between 2006-2010, he toured and recorded with Memphis soul-jazz trio The City Champs, releasing two studio albums, The Safecracker and The Set-up (Electraphonic). In 2006, he teamed with soul singer Ruthie Foster to record her critically acclaimed CD, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, (Blue Corn) produced by Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne. In the spring of 2008 George helped score the film, Gospel Hill alongside Memphis producer, Scott Bomar.

Chris Robinson, lead singer for the Black Crowes was given a vinyl copy of The City Champs, The Set-Up and called George, asking him to come to Los Angeles to play with his new solo project, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Leaving Memphis for the second time and making the journey west, he joined the band and toured with the CRB from March of 2011 till January of 2015. During this time, the band recorded three studio albums…Big Moon Ritual, The Magic Door and Phosphorescent Harvest (Silver Arrow), as well as two live albums, Betty’s Blends, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Silver Arrow).

George moved back to Memphis in November of 2016 and is currently keeping an active schedule, gigging, recording & teaching.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Ted Sirota's Vernel Fournier Drum Lesson Tapes

Something very special today....with Ted Sirota's permission, I am sharing his lesson tapes with the great Vernel Fournier, recorded on cassette tape in New York City circa. 1990.

Check these out. So much great info here, straight from the source!

Thank you Ted for sharing these with us via YouTube. Make sure to check out Ted's website www.tedsirota.com and consider making a donation to his GoFundMe campaign.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Colin Stranahan


Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, May 11th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Colin Stranahan.

Born In Denver Colorado, Colin Stranahan has always been surrounded by music. By his teenage years he was already actively working on the local Denver scene, and has recorded multiple records on the Capri Record label. After receiving the prestigious National Foundation Advancement of the Arts Presidential Scholar award in 2005, he studied at the University of the Pacific for one year as a Brubeck Institute Fellow. Shortly thereafter, he attended the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Stranahan was also one of the winners of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Drum Competition. Now living in Brooklyn, New York, Colin is among the most sought-after drummers in the world working with such artist as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jonathan Kreisberg, Dr. Lonnie Smith,Fred Hersch, Terence Blanchard, Dave Kikoski, Kevin Hays, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and many others. 

He is part of a collective trio featuring some of the most talented and praised young musicians in New York City. Together, the Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato trio has recorded and released two successful albums and are releasing a third that was recorded live at Smalls, released in 2015.

Colin Stranahan currently holds adjunct teaching positions at Aarhus Royal Academy of Music, and London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he teaches both private lessons, and ensemble teaching.

He also teaches at a few summer Jazz programs including The Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, The Fara Sabina Summer Jazz School and Festival in Fara Sabina, Italy. Colin also gives drum master classes at Oberlin College, New England Conservatory, International Jazz Conference in Thailand, and the Singapore Esplanade Jazz Festival.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Three Bloggers - Part III: Technique!

For the third and final instalment of our ongoing collaborative collective series entitled The Three Bloggers, myself, Ted Warren of Trap'd and Todd Bishop of Cruise Ship Drummer! will each offer our individual thoughts on the concept of Technique

As before, this topic was suggested without any specificity or direction so I'm sure between the three of us we'll come up with a variety of interesting perspectives to consider.

Given the current circumstances and on-going restrictions re: Covid-19, the idea of Technique is something I've given quite a bit of thought to over the past year now since I've had more time to practice. Specifically, the question I've been asking myself has been: "How do I become a better drummer AND musician throughout all of this?"

Here are a few of my thoughts and some things that I've learned:

- In my opinion, developing one's technique as a drummer is a very important and lifelong study. 

Specifically, I am referring to developing, maintaining and refining one's rhythmic control and ability with one's hands, feet and overall four-way coordination on the drum set.

I once heard Jerry Bergonzi in a Downbeat interview say something along the lines of: 

"You never really master music. Music is the master." 

...and I think he's right! But what does this mean?

- I think people all too often confuse the idea of technique (practicing rudiments for example) with that of developing speed and virtuosity for their own sake. In a society and culture that generally celebrates speed and virtuosity it's easy to buy into this. But for me it becomes much deeper than that and I think it's really about developing and expanding your rhythmic/musical vocabulary and, most importantly, your sound on your instrument.

As my good friend jazz trumpeter Prof. Dean McNeill often reminds me: 

"Often the things that count the most aren't easily counted..."

- So yes, we should always continually work on the technical side of our instrument but ultimately it's how we apply those concepts in a musical context that matters most.

- I'm often reminded of many significant drummers who, over the course of music history, certainly had adequate technique but not to a level that I would qualify as being overly virtuosic (I won't mention any specific names here...)

So why were those drummers so special and in constant demand? It's because it wasn't necessarily what they played so much as it was how they played (i.e. their attention to their sound and how they made the music feel) and for me this is really the heart of the matter.

Carl Allen recently commented on this during my recent Four on the Floor *Live* interview with him:

"When you are playing there are two questions that you have to ask yourself: how does it sound and how does it feel?"

And he's right!

- Speaking of feel, Steve Gadd is, of course, one of the greatest drummers in the world and his prolific career reflects the way he makes the music feel and the rhythmic dance with which he plays the drums.

However, Gadd is also a master of the snare drum rudiments. My friend Chris Worthington recently forwarded to me this compilation of Gadd demonstrating his brilliant approach to using flam rudiments:

For me, I think Steve Gadd is a perfect example of how technique and musical intention merge and all come together.

- This has all been, admittedly, very challenging for me to put into practice over the past year since we, as musicians, have had our livelihoods turned upside down and haven't been able to play with other people!

- However, for myself, addressing technical issues from a musical perspective (such as sound), playing along with recordings, play-a-longs, composing/arranging new music, listening to music (more on this below) and playing melodies on the vibraphone has really helped give me a musical sense of balance to my practice routine over the past 12 months.

It's all a matter of musical intention and balance!

- Speaking of balance, saxophonist David Liebman puts this all into perspective with a brilliant artistic concept he breaks down into three areas. He calls this The Three H's: The Head, The Hands and The Heart (check out Liebman's excellent book Self-Portrait of a Jazz Artist).

These three areas of one's artistry (no matter your artistic discipline) all need to be addressed and they all work together towards creating a healthy and balanced creative spirit (and as Bergonzi stated before, it's a journey that one never finishes and it's always a work in progress).

1) The Hands

This is the technical and hands-on "muscle memory" aspect of being, in our case, a drummer. This is developing your facility on the snare drum, learning to use rebound, developing coordination, independence, etc. In some ways this is almost like being an athlete, meaning training our hands and feet to react in certain ways, developing control, dexterity and overall skill on our instrument (and your sound!)

2) The Head

This is the theoretical aspect of being a musician and a drummer: being able to understand and think about rhythm, melody, harmony, form, different styles, etc. One has to understand how music works and of its theoretical possibilities and potential.

3) The Heart

This is probably the most subjective aspect but the emotional content of one's artistry is very important as well. 

What does your music mean?

Why do you play? 

What message are you trying to convey?

These are important questions to ask and not only are the answers unique to every individual, they often take a long time to ask and to answer in an honest way. It's all very personal.

When thinking about this particular aspect, I often return to Charlie Parker's famous quote:

“Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.”

All these Three H's work together towards creating an honest individual artistic identity. They all must be addressed or else you'll likely fall short of your creative potential. 

For example: one could have great technique (the hands) and lots of theoretical knowledge (the head) but with a lack of emotional meaning (the heart) one's music might come across as being cold and mechanical. The last thing you want to sound like is a machine!

One could have great chops (the hands) and lots of emotional spirit (the heart) but without a deep grasp of theory (the head) the depth and use of one's vocabulary will be limited.

Finally, one could have a lot going on in their Head and in their Heart but without the Hands (ie. technique!) one will never be able to fully express themselves adequately nor have the proper technical tools to do so.

But like I said before, how these different elements add up is different for everyone and everyones journey is unique.


Furthermore, Adam Nussbaum (also a frequent musical collaborator of Dave Liebman's) puts things into perspective with his concept of Chops that he shared with me once:

In Adam's opinion there are two kinds of chops, your Outside Chops and your Inside Chops.

Your Outside Chops are what one usually thinks about when we talk about chops: ie. your hands, your feet, 4-way coordination, rudiments, etc. = technique.

But your Inside Chops are what you listen to and how you listen.

This is really important because what music you listen to and how you listen to music informs everything you do with your Outside Chops!

I'm reminded of something Joe Farnsworth said to me in my recent Four on the Floor *Live* interview: 

"You have to listen to learn and you have to learn how to listen!"

Great advice from Joe Farnsworth, Charlie Parker, Adam Nussbaum, Dave Liebman, Steve Gadd, Carl Allen, Dean McNeill and Jerry Bergonizi and I think about these things a lot, whether I'm working things out on my drum pad, learning new Brazilian Batucada patterns on the drums or playing along with recordings of Bud Powell.

Furthermore, I've shared this one before but it's really important, in my opinion. Percussionist Evelyn Glennie offers this wonderful TEDx talk that is certainly worth a watch entitled "How to Truly Listen":

So there you go, a few thoughts about Technique to consider.

I'd also like to leave you with vocalist Jon Hendrick's timeless one-word jazz poem:


Friday, April 30, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* featuring Jon Gordon on Instagram IGTV


Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, May 4th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Jon Gordon.

"Jon is one of the greatest alto players ever!" - Phil Woods

A native New Yorker, saxophonist and composer Jon Gordon was born into a musical family and began playing at age ten. In addition to private saxophone studies he attended Performing Arts High School and won numerous competitions, among them the Julius Grossman, the Goldman Band and the Performing Arts Concerto competition. This led to performances as a soloist with the Grossman orchestra, Goldman Band and the Performing Arts Orchestra.

In his mid-teens Jon’s love for Jazz began to bloom. He began sitting in regularly with Eddie Chamblee at Sweet Basil and started lessons with Phil Woods. From 1984-88 he attended Manhattan School of Music. During this time Jon began working professionally including gigs with Red Rodney, Roy Eldridge, Barney Kessel, Al Grey, Eddie Locke, Mike LeDonne, Mel Lewis, Doc Cheatham and many others.

Since that time, he has worked with Maria Schneider, Ron McClure, Clark Terry, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, T.S. Monk, TanaReid and Bill Mays, The Vanguard orchestra, Bill Charlap, Ray Barreto, Mark Turner, George Colligan, Chico Hamilton, Harry Connick jr. and the N.Y. Pops Orchestra, among many others. Jon also appears regularly as a member of the Jazz Nativity, whose other featured artists have included Tito Puente, Ron Carter, Dave Brubeck, Savion Glover, Slide Hampton, and Harold Nicholas.

Jon has led his own groups at various European, Canadian and U.S. jazz festivals and clubs including, Ronnie Scott's and The Pizza Express (London), The Sunside, The Sunset, and La Villa (Paris), The Brecon Jazz Festival (Wales), The Oslo Jazz Festival, The Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Royal Caribbean Floating Jazz Festival, Savannah on Stage, The Savannah Jazz Festival, and The Wolftrap Festival. He has performed as a sideman at dozens of other festivals, clubs and concert halls around the world.

Recent appearances include stints at the Blue Note, Birdland, Visiones, Iridum, Smalls, the Jazz Standard, Jazz in July at the 92nd Street Y, the JVC Jazz Festival, the Village Vanguard, Fat Cat, And The Charlie Parker Festival.

In November of 1996, Jon won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Judges for this important event were Wayne Shorter, Jackie McLean, Joe Lovano, Jimmy Heath and Joshua Redman. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Terri Lyne Carrington: The New Standards

A series of instructional videos with NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington from the The Library of Congress (here's the direct link to the Library of Congress website):


And a recently streamed concert from The Library of Congress featuring her New Standards band with Kris Davis (piano), Linda May Han Oh (bass), Tia Fuller (flute and saxophone) and Devon Gates (electric guitar and voice):

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Joe Farnsworth

It's Time to Swing!

Please join me for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, April 27th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Joe Farnsworth!

One of the most highly regarded jazz drummers on the scene today, Joe is known for his blazing speed, precision, musical, and melodic playing.

Born in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1968, Joe grew up in a musical family; his father was a music educator and he has four older brothers, two of whom became professional musicians.

He studied with Alan Dawson and Arthur Taylor prior to attending and graduating from William Patterson College in New Jersey in 1994 where he began playing with saxophonist Eric Alexander and guitarist Peter Bernstein.

Upon moving to New York City, he led the weekend jazz combos at Augie’s (now Smoke Jazz & Supper Club). He performed with Junior Cook, Cecil Payne, John Ore, Big John Patton, Harold Mabern, Eddie Henderson, John Jenkins and his brothers, John and James.

Joseph’s career includes recording over 100 CD’s as a leader and side-man, jazz festivals and world tours with Pharaoh Sanders, Horace Silver, Harold Mabern, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Diana Krall, Benny Golson, George Coleman, Johnny Griffin, Lou Donaldson, Benny Green, Barry Harris, Curtis Fuller to name a few.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - April 2021

And...we're back.

Thank you to everyone who has been tuning into my weekly Instagram interview series Four on the Floor *Live* happening every Tuesday evening. I've really been learning a ton from all the artists who have generously taken time out of their daily lives to speak with me. Thank you for all your ongoing support.

Please tune in tomorrow Tuesday, April 20th at 7pm mountain (9pm eastern) on Instagram IGTV @fouronthefloorblog for my interview with Dr. Colleen Clark www.collendrums.com

Okay, so here's what's in the queue for this months column:

1) A pair of articles from Jazz Times magazine including:

- Carl Allen remembers Charli Persip

- Steve Swallow on Pete LaRoca

2) The Drum History Podcast featured this episode on Alan Dawson and big thanks to Steve Fidyk for also sharing this tribute to Alan Dawson:

3) Matt Wilson interviewed by the Happy Musicians podcast and here is Matt's excellent article from Jazz Times magazine on his favourite ride cymbal melodies!

4) Check out this free on-line concert and get your rhythm fix from CAP UCLA featuring Zakir Hussain and The Masters of Percussion with Marcus Gilmore on drums

5) Ted Warren recently featured by Toronto Jazz including a stellar drums/alto saxophone duet with Allison Au on his original composition O Fink Hoot E

6) Creative Conversations with percussionist Warren Smith:


7) Jack DeJohnette interviewed by Dekel Bor for "Speakin' My Piece":

8) A wonderful interview with Lewis Nash, interviewed by Bret Primack:


And thank you to Peter Erskine for reminding us of Nash's amazing solo drum rendition of Eddie Harris' Freedom Jazz Dance:


9) UNT's Professor of Jazz Drums Quincy Davis continues with his on-going and prolific Q-Tips series on YouTube. 

Check these out! 

Don't forget to check out Quincy's ongoing interview series Drummer 2 Drummer on Instagram @qdjazz

10) A spotlight on Ulysses Owens Jr. thanks to the nice people at the Avedis Zildjian Company:


Make sure to check out Ulysses' excellent book Jazz Brushes for the Modern Drummer!

11) Antonio Sanchez performs his original composition Leviathan with Chris Potter on tenor saxophone and Scott Colley on bass:


12) Pianist Rossano Sportiello featuring Kenny Washington on the brushes:

13) Jerome Jennings offers this informative webinar masterclass on The Art of Big Band Drumming:


14) Some rare recordings of British drummer Kenny Clare demonstrating some brushwork and uptempo timekeeping:



15) A rare recording of this beautiful trio featuring Geri Allen on piano, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and Esperanza Spalding on bass:


16) Check out this rare Philly Joe Jones drum feature!


17) What am I listening to these days?

Dick Oatts "Standard Issue" - James Oblon (drums)

Thelonious Monk "Monk's Dream"- Frankie Dunlop (drums)

Steve Lacy "The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Gary Burton "Like Minds" - Roy Haynes (drums)

Fredrik Kronkvist "Afro-Cuban Supreme" - Jason Marsalis (drums)

The Young Tuxedo Brass Band "Jazz Begins"

Various Artists "Batucada - The Sound of Favelas"

Patrick Boyle "LULL"

18) And today's Final Word goes to Dame Evelyn Glennie with this reminder and important words of wisdom:

*If you like what you are seeing/reading/listening to please consider subscribing to my mailing list. Just click on the subscription box on the right side of my page. Don't miss out and sign up to receive regular Four on the Floor updates to your inbox today!*

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Colleen Clark

Please join me for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, April 20th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Dr. Colleen Clark!



Drummer, composer, educator and bandleader, Dr. Colleen Clark is the only drummer and woman to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Performance at the world-renowned University of North Texas, the oldest jazz institution in America. As a member of the Associate Graduate Faculty at the University of North Texas, Clark currently oversees the research interests of doctoral students in jazz studies.

As a player, Clark has been described as "someone to watch" and "someone who will be turning heads in jazz for years to come." Clark was invited by the ASCAP Foundation to lead her band, the Colleen Clark Collective, at the Kennedy Center. Dr. Clark has performed in prominent NYC venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland and the 55 Bar. Her debut album, consisting entirely of her original music, Introducing Colleen Clark, was produced by Gordon Stout and engineered by ten-time Grammy Award nominee/winner, Brian Dozoretz. Clark proudly joined the Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Combo on their premiere performance at the Jazz Education Network Conference in 2019.

Dr. Clark currently teaches at City University of New York's Borough Manhattan Community College and the University of North Texas Clark also serves on the advisory board for The BeBop Corporation and has been a lead teacher in the ChiCa Power program at the Jazz House Kids.

Clark can most recently be heard playing on SteepleChase record #900, Allegra Levy's Lose My Number: Allegra Levy Sings John McNeil.

Dr. Clark is extremely excited to be joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina in August 2021. As Assistant Professor of Jazz, Clark will teach a full drumset studio, jazz history and conduct/coordinate the big bands and small ensembles.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Backyard Afro-Cuban Grooves/Groves *Revisited*

Spring is here (apparently...) but I'm getting quite impatient as it's not really green around here yet (I'm right in the middle of Western Canada...but hey, at least the snow is gone!) 

Anyways, I decided to revisit this footage of my dear friends and amazing percussionists Raul Tabera, Luis Tovar and Mario Allende, recorded in my backyard last summer: 

There is no lack of green foilage and serious grooves (groves?) in this one!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Allison Miller

Please join me for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, April 13th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring the incredible Allison Miller!


NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a Modern Jazz Icon in the Making, Miller won Downbeat’s 67th Annual Critics Poll for “Rising Star Drummer” and JazzTimes’s 2019 Critics Poll for “Best Jazz Drummer.” Boom Tic Boom, Allison’s longtime band, won Jazz Journalists Association’s 2019 award for “Best Mid-Sized Ensemble.” Her composition, “Otis Was a Polar Bear”, is included on NPR’s list of The 200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women+. She is also the first recipient of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Commissioning Grant. In January 2020 Miller along with her band, Boom Tic Boom, tap dancer-Claudia Rahardjanoto, and video designer-Todd Winkler premiered this new multimedia suite, In Our Veins, with a seven show tour sponsored by Jazz Touring Network and Mid Atlantic Arts. The project explores multimedia performance as a vital form of knowledge production through the poetic interpretation of historical events and their association with the geography, ecology and flow of specific rivers.

Miller, a three time Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, was Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2019 Artist in Residence, alongside bassist/producer Derrick Hodge. Simultaneously her band, Boom Tic Boom, celebrated itss 10th anniversary with the release of their 5th album, Glitter Wolf, which was included in many “Best Jazz Of 2019” lists, including NPR, Rolling Stone and Jazz Times magazine. NPR’s Kevin Whitehead says, “All the parts fit together like clockwork on Allison Miller's new album.” The band has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe and Asia as well as being featured on such programs as NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Tiny Desk with Bob Boilen, WNYC’s Soundcheck and New Sounds with John Schaefer, and Jazz Night in America with Christian McBride.

While breaking from leading Boom Tic Boom, Miller focuses on collaborations, co-directing Parlour Game with Jenny Scheinman and Science Fair with Carmen Staaf. Parlour Game’s debut album also made “Best Jazz Of 2019” lists, including LA Times, Boston Globe, The Nation and was recently featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Miller is also a proud member of the critically acclaimed Bluenote recording supergroup Artemis, and is the musical director for Camille A. Brown’s Ink.

As a side-musician, Miller has been the rhythmic force behind such artists as Sara Bareilles, Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Indigo Girls, Toshi Reagon, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Patricia Barber, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Allison, and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Allison teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (where she was recently named a Melba Liston Fellow), Stanford Jazz Workshop, Centrum, Geri Allen Jazz Camp, and is the Artistic Director of Jazz Camp West. She has been appointed Arts Envoy to Thailand for her work with Jazz Education Abroad and endorses Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth heads, Evans drumheads and Sunhouse percussion.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Charles Lloyd Quartet - Belgium 1966

Here's some great footage that has been making the rounds lately of Charles Lloyd's quartet featuring Jack DeJohnette on drums with Keith Jarrett and Cecil McBee, filmed for Belgian television circa. 1966:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Carl Allen

Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, April 6th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Carl Allen.


I've been looking forward to this one for a long time!

“My ultimate goal is to get to a level like Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Elvin Jones, and Billy Higgins…who every time they sit down behind a set of drums it’s swinging…”

With over 200 recordings to his credit, the gifted Milwaukee-born, New York-based drummer, sideman, bandleader, entrepreneur, and educator, Carl Allen’s profound and propulsive percolations provided soulful and syncopated support for nearly three decades.

Born on April 25, 1961, Allen grew up on gospel, R&B, and funk, but later turned to jazz after hearing an LP by the legendary saxophonist Benny Carter. He studied with drum instructor Roy Sneider and band director Robert Siemele. His first hometown gigs were with sax greats Sonny Stitt and James Moody. Allen studied at The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay from 1979 to 1981, and transferred to William Patterson College in New Jersey, where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies and Performance.

Allen joined trumpeter Freddie Hubbard a year before his graduation,  served as his Musical Director for eight years, and recorded several recordings with the trumpeter including Double Take and Life Flight. Allen also played with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Jennifer Holliday, J.J. Johnson, Rickie Lee Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Lena Horne, Ruth Brown, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Mike Stern, Nellie McKay, Terence Blanchard, Phil Woods, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Joe Henderson, Billy Childs and many others. Allen’s phenomenal sideman discography also includes Jackie McLean (Dynasty), Donald Harrison (Indian Blues, Noveau Swing), Donald Byrd (A City Called Heaven), and Art Farmer (The Company I Keep).

“Carl Allen is an international powerhouse. His sound and feelings have fueled the bands of Freddie Hubbard, Christian McBride and countless others as well as leading his own projects." – Joe Lovano

Piccadilly Square (Timeless) was Allen’s first CD as leader, released in 1989, followed by The Dark Side of Dewey (Evidence), The Pursuer (Atlantic), Testimonial (Atlantic), and Get Ready, his 2007 Mack Avenue gospel/Motown accented debut release with co-leader, bassist Rodney Whitaker followed up by Work to Do (Mack Avenue Records) featuring Kirk Whalum.

Education has always been part of my mission Allen says. Art Blakey taught me the importance of nurturing the next generation of musicians. “Every generation needs someone to help them get to the next level and this what I am hoping to do”. In May of 2012 Allen received an honorary doctorate from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah in Humane Letters.

Allen is also an accomplished businessman. He co-founded Big Apple Productions in 1988 with saxophonist Vincent Herring, produced several recordings for several Japanese labels with future stars Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton. Several years ago he created Nella Productions which produces projects and developed an education component to the company called The New York Jazz Symposium where he runs workshops around the world on jazz. Allen has also produced recordings for pianist Eric Reed, Dewey Redman. Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, Kris Bowers and guitarist Lage Lund, the winner of the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Monk Competition and many others totaling nearly 70 credits as a producer.

Carl Allen’s multifaceted career provides the perfect template for what a modern musician should be. As Sid Gribetz of Jazz Times wrote, “more than just another fine drummer, Carl Allen has it all together as a bandleader, businessman, and producer, becoming a force in today’s jazz world.”

Allen maintains an exhaustive schedule of recording, touring and teaching. He remains active as a sideman with Christian McBride and Inside Straight, Benny Golson and others. As a leader most recently leading The Carl Allen Quartet as well as The Art of Elvin, a tribute band dedicated to his two drum influences, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones was started after the passing of Elvin Jones in 2004.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Brian Blade/Daniel Lanois - "Burning Spear"

Here's Brian Blade featured on Daniel Lanois' "Burning Spear":

What a great way to start the week. Let's go!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Mareike Wiening


Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Tuesday, March 30th at noon 12pm MST (2pm EST and 8pm in Germany!), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring drummer/composer Mareika Wiening!

*Please note the 12pm Mountain start time next week, to accommodate an 8 hour time zone difference!*

Make sure to check out Mareika's new live EP, Live at Bird's Eye Baselhttps://mareikewiening.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-birds-eye-basel



Drummer, composer and bandleader Mareike Wiening has distinguished herself bringing “a planar modulating harmonic language and a propulsive drift” (Giovanni Russonello, New York Times) to the most compelling jazz music of today. Ms. Wiening’s music was described as “thoroughly modern, progressive jazz, Mareike Wiening’s album Crosswalk has many layers that unfold with each repeated hearing; she will most definitely become a leading part of the jazz scene in the years to come.” (All About Jazz)

Her new album, Metropolis Paradise, which was recorded as the last session at the legendary Systems Two Recording Studio, will be released on November 1st 2019 through Greenleaf Records.

Wiening is based in New York as well as Cologne, Germany and has performed with artists throughout the United States, Europe and South America. She has appeared with John Zorn’s COBRA, German Jazz Youth Orchestra and multiple Off-Broadway Shows. Wiening has worked with renowned musicians such as Rich Perry, Stefon Harris, Dan Tepfer, Dayna Stephens, Fabian Almazan, Johannes Enders, Ben Wendel, Florian Weber, Adrian Mears, among others.

Besides leading her own quintet featuring Rich Perry, Glenn Zaleski, Alex Goodman and Johannes Felscher, Ms. Wiening is also an in demand side-woman in the New York jazz scene and in Europe. Venues and festivals such as New York’s Winter Jazzfest, Atlanta Jazzfestival, Elbjazz Hamburg, Juan Le Pins, The Jazz Gallery, Blue Note NYC, German Consulate and the Carnegie Hall and Bird’s Eye Basel are only a few of her regular performance places. She is endorsed by Meinl Cymbals and Meinl Sticks&Brush exclusively.

A native German, Ms. Wiening received her bachelor of music degree from the University of Performing Arts Mannheim and the Rhythmic Conservatory of Music Copenhagen. She received her master of music degree from the University of Performing Arts Mannheim and New York University.

Ms. Wiening attended the Banff International Jazzworkshop and the International Annual Jazz Meeting with musical director Dave Liebman in Sao Paul, Brazil. She studied with Stefon Harris, Michael Küttner, Tony Moreno, Guillermo Klein, Henry Cole, Marilyn Mazur, among others.

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - March 2021

And...we're back. 

Thanks again for tuning in and there are lots of great jazz drumming related pieces, old and new, to check out today. Special thanks to those of you who passed along and shared many great articles and videos with me over the past month. If you have anything you'd like to share, please drop me a line at fouronthefloorblog@gmail.com and I'd love to hear from you.

*Just a quick reminder: please consider entering your e.mail address on the right side of the page to subscribe to my mailing list. Don't miss out, subscribe today and receive Four on the Floor directly to your inbox!*

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Here's what's been circulating around the Four on the Floor offices this month:

1. My weekly interview series Four on the Floor *Live* is still happening every Tuesday evening on my Instagram page @fouronthefloorblog at 7pm MST (9pm EST). Thanks to everyone who has been watching. 

Tune in this week (tomorrow night) for my interview with Ulysses Owens Jr.!

On March 30th I'll be featuring drummer/composer Mareike Wiening from Germany (at 12pm MST!) and on April 6th I'll be speaking with the great Carl Allen (7pm MST/9pm EST).

2. The second instalment of The Three Bloggers series continues featuring Four on the Floor, Ted Warren of Trap'd and Todd Bishop of Cruiseship Drummer collectively offering these thoughts on the seminal Miles Davis album "Milestones: 

The Three Bloggers - Part 2: Milestones by Jonathan McCaslin

The three bloggers listen to Milestones by Todd Bishop

The Three Bloggers Part 2 : Thoughts on Milestones by Ted Warren

Round #3 will be coming around the end of the month or so. Look out for our general thoughts about the idea of Technique (What does it mean? Is it even important? How much does one need?)

3. Jazz Portraits was a series produced for CBC Radio in 2008 and hosted by pianist Renee Rosnes. Click on the link and check out the episode featuring Canadian jazz drumming great Terry Clarke (well, listen to all of them!)

4. Cindy Blackman Santana on Tony Williams from SFJazz

5. The legacy of Milford Graves featured in WIRE magazine

6. Stanton Moore and Marcus Gilmore each sit down with Mike Dolbear and talk technique in these features from Zildjian cymbals

7. I've really been digging Adam Osmianski's blog lately, particularly his analysis and discussion of Brazilian rhythms in his regular offering That Drum Blog

Check out his transcription of Edu Ribeiro's solo piece Diddle Diddle:


8. The late Ralph Peterson Jr. was recently featured in the New York Times, on NPR radio and in Jazz Times magazine.

Here's a few clips of the master in action including a cadenza from a fiery version of A Night in Tunisia from the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival, recorded a few years back (playing double drums with Lewis Nash no less!)


...a more recent performance of "Steppin' in Minor" featuring Chris Potter, Orrin Evans and Buster Williams:


...and an example of Peterson demonstrating his unique approach to melodic drumming, recorded at the 2013 PASIC convention:

9. David Garibaldi, Mike Clark, Michael Shrieve, Lenny White and Greg Ericco have teamed up to create On the Corner with the Stick People. Check out this recent episode in which they speak with Peter Erskine:

10. Edu Ribeiro continues with his great, ongoing interview series through Open Studio, this time featuring the always inspiring Allison Miller:


11. Make sure to check out Allison Miller's wonderful webinar on creative music making as well:

12. Joe Chambers interviewed by Don Was, speaking about his latest album on Blue Note Records:


13. John Riley offers this lesson on uptempo time keeping:


...and this story about working with Michel LeGrand:


14. Lewis Nash trades with Hank Jones!

15. Quincy Davis continues with his incredible Q-Tips series, offering practical advice and insightful ideas to work on, no matter your skill level or experience. I play through all of these and learn something every time I watch them. I also think it's important that others know about them as well, so here they are. Thank you Quincy and keep up the great work!


Also, make sure to check out Quincy's excellent ongoing Drummer 2 Drummer live interview series on Instagram IGTV at @qdjazz

16. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed Quincy's recent IG interview with Marvin "Smitty" Smith and that lead me to find these two incredible videos, found on Smith's own YouTube page:


17. Thana Alexa & Antonio Sanchez with a vocal + drums collaboration on Sanchez' Bad Hombre:


18. I'm not sure about you but despite being able to practice a lot of drums these days, I sure do miss playing with people. It will happen eventually! To that point, Steve Fidyk offers this useful advice on building behind a soloist in a big band:


19. I shared this one a long time ago, but here it is again. Billy Drummond demonstrates the groove to his original 7/4 composition Dubai:


I could listen to his ride cymbal beat all day!

20. Jazz Talk has been offering regular interviews on their YouTube channel, hosting contemporary jazz greats.

Check out these interviews with Nasheet Waits:


 Carl Allen:


 Jeff "Tain" Watts: 


...and Billy Hart!


As always, when the Masters speak, we listen!

21. The Ottawa Jazz Festival recently presented an online version of its Winter Jazz Fest and there was lots of great music and Canadian drummers to hear.

Kirk MacDonald's Generations Quartet featuring Toronto's Morgan Childs:


Montreal's Ranee Lee with Jim Doxas on drums:


And, also from Montreal, the JazzLab Orchestra featuring Michel Lambert on drums:

22. I've really been enjoying this ongoing, regular series from Joe Lovano (recorded last summer in his backyard) featuring the always dynamic Lamy Istrefi Jr. on drums:


23. And finally, here's some swinging organ trio music with Milt Buckner, Slam Stewart on bass and the one and only Jo Jones!


24. What am I listening to these days?

Charlie Christian & Dizzy Gillespie "Jazz Immortal - After Hours: Monroe's Harlem Minton's - Live" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

King Curtis "Live at the Fillmore" - Bernard Purdie (drums)

BPM Trio "Audi Alteram" - Mark Adam (drums)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan "Live at WOMAD 1985"

Charlie Parker "Swedish Schnapps" - Kenny Clarke, Max Roach (drums)

Warren "Baby" Dodds "Talking & Drum Solos"- Baby Dodds (drums)

Artemis "ARTEMIS" - Allison Miller (drums)

Walter Davis Jr. "Scorpio Rising" - Ralph Peterson Jr. (drums)

25. And today's Final Word(s) go to Terri Lyne Carrington with her inspiring performance piece I am the Drums...

...and Matt Wilson, with this poem:

Human Moments - In the Moment (for Frank Kimbrough)

Rhythm is the result of sound and space.

Value and trust, the beauty of the sound.

Value and trust, the spirit of the space.

The space?

The space is where the mystery and faith resides.

Celebrate human moments - in the moment.

the sounds.

the spirits.

the rhythms.

the spaces.

Be grateful and rejoice.

Matt Wilson       January 2021