Monday, May 23, 2022

Keeping the Drummer Occupied & Standard Tune Learning Sequence

A couple of new books arrived in my mailbox recently and today I'm going to share them with you all.

I think that one of the bright sides of the challenges of the past two years, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that many people had the motivation to invest their time and channel their positive energy into new projects and creative ventures.

Ireland's Conor Guilfoyle and Iowa's James Dreier are two accomplished drummer/authors who did just this and they have both recently self-published two wonderful new drum books that offer a wealth of information and challenging things to practice and think about.

Keeping the Drummer Occupied - by Conor Guilfoyle

I've known Conor for some time now and he is no stranger to writing interesting drum books and sharing his great exercises and compelling concepts via his YouTube channel.

The exercises that Conor has written are concise, practical and offer a variety of concepts and skills that will undoubtedly expand a drummer's vocabulary by using rudiments in creatively different ways.

Keeping the drummer occupied. These 40 studies provide an interesting and challenging way to practice your rudiments. Each study is designed to develop both rhythmic ability and hand technique by utilising familiar stickings in unique ways. Singles, doubles, flams, rolls, and paradiddles are all presented using a combination of unusual rhythmic groupings as well as odd time signature giving you an insight into many of the rhythmic devices found in the contemporary music of today. Also included is a challenging snare drum etude which can be used as a performance or audition piece.


Standard Tune Learning Sequence: A Musical Approach to Improvisation for Jazz Drummers - by James Dreier

James Dreier's new book is a welcome addition to the canon of jazz drumming literature, in which he offers practical approaches to drum improvisation using song form and melody as guiding features.

I was first introduced to Dreier's concepts while researching for my own doctoral research and thesis Melodic Jazz Drumming https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/69408 

Dreier's step-by-step approach to using melody and form as reference points and organizing principles while soloing on the drums was an important influence in my own research.

While books that deal with specific patterns, coordination, technique, etc. are very important I also feel that books and approaches such as Dreier's are very important as well because they teach us to think about How and Why we play the drums, not just about What we are playing on the drums.

My book, Standard Tune Learning Sequence, A Musical Approach to Improvisation for Jazz Drummers, is a method book designed to provide jazz drummers with a sequential, organized set of exercises (the STLS sheet), utilizing the act of singing, to learn jazz standards and improvise over them. The book also contains a dozen unique improvisational strategies (along with tune lists, recommended resources etc.), to provide drummers directed and focused ways to utilize the musical elements of any jazz standard for improvisation. It is all designed to provide a more musical foundation for jazz drumming.

There is also a dedicated YouTube channel that provides instruction and examples for all the material provided in the book.

The book is available on Amazon.

"This book is excellent way for even a beginning drummer to start incorporating song form into their daily practice routine in an organized and creative way."

- Joe LaBarbera

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - May 2022

Welcome back to another action packed edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle, my somewhat regular monthly jazz drumming variety column (sorry, I was too busy to get anything together last month...) Anyways, thank you to all of you who've e.mailed me and I appreciate your feedback and contributions. 

This column represents a collection of the somewhat random but significant jazz drumming-related pieces (recent and otherwise) that I find inspiring and feel the need to share with the world.

Thanks again for all your support and please don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list on the right hand side of the page. Don't miss out, sign up today and get Four on the Floor sent directly to your inbox!

So, and without any further ado, here is the Spring edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle. Please enjoy!

1) Joe Zawinul: The Somewhat Long Lost Interview about Drummers and Weather Report by David Aldridge

2) Phase Dancing: The Art of Drumming in the Pat Metheny Group featuring Danny Gottlieb, Paul Wertico and Antonio Sanchez

3) An interview with Andrew Cyrille in advance of his duo performance with tenor saxophonist Billy Harper

4) Clifford Allen interviews Clifford Barbaro

5) Ken Micallef, writing for Stereophile Magazine, wrote a wonderful survey on the evolution of jazz drumming From Congo Square to Times Square: A Short History of Drums in Jazz

6) Victoria's Kelby MacNayr featured in YAM Magazine The Beat Goes on for Drummer Kelby MacNayr 

7) A short drum solo from Jeff Ballard:


8) Curtis Nowosad interviewed by Darrian Douglas for The Working Artist Project podcast:


 9) Steve Maxwell Jr. interviews Matt Wilson:


10) A fantastic duo set from Francisco Mela and George Garzone:

11) Quincy Davis continues with his always excellent Q Tips YouTube series with these formidable episodes:


...and this feature from the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company:

12) And also from Zildjian, here's John Riley with another episode from his Art of Bop Drumming series:


13) Sara Hagan Backstage interviews Paul Francis, Master cymbal craftsman:


14) Jochen Rueckert interviewed by Pablo Held:


15) Joe Farnsworth offers these two important lessons from the Greats:


16) The prolific Dr. Jazz Talks, Samo Salamon interviews these Master drummers of our time including:

Jeff Williams


Kenny Washington


Billy Drummond


Bill Stewart 


17) The Drum Candy Podcast and Thomas Wendt give us 10 Reasons to Love Roy Haynes:


18) Mind Free Drumming from Ra Kalam Bob Moses and Jabali Billy Hart:


...and more great wisdom here from Ra Kalam:


19) Marcus Gilmore and Savion Glover in a fantastic tap and drum duet:


20) Thanks to Ed Soph who shared this incredible footage of Sonny Rollins with Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums:


21) What am I listening to these days?

Freddie Hubbard "Red Clay" - Lenny White (drums)

Allison Miller & Jane Ira Bloom "Tuesday Sessions" - Allison Miller (drums)

Fela Kuti "Live!" - Tony Allen & Ginger Baker (drums)

Max Roach "Long As You're Living" - Max Roach (drums)

Kenny Wheeler "Music for Large and Small Ensembles" - Peter Erskine (drums)

Terry Gibbs "The Terry Gibbs Dream Band" - Mel Lewis (drums)

Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell "Live in Philadelphia 1978" - Edward Blackwell (drums)

Steve Hirsh "So Now - Drumset Orchestra" - Steve Hirsh (drums and cymbals)

22) And today's Final Word goes to the Copasetics, “a social, friendly benevolent club” of musical and tap dance artists dedicated to preserving the memory and spirit of Master tap dancer and entertainer Bill Bojangles Robinson:

The "Copasetics Song" written by Honi Coles and Paul Branker

When you feel blue,

the best thing to do

is tell yourself to forget it.

Laugh your cares away

Tomorrow's another day

And Everything will be Copasetic.

Never look down

Chin up and don't frown.

Don't let life get pathetic.

Life's a funny thing

It's really great when you sing,

And Everything will be Copasetic.

Greet your fellow man

With a wide open hand,

Make your neighbor's burden lighter.

A friendly hello everywhere that you go

Is bound to make your day much brighter.

When you feel sad

Pretend that you're glad

Smile and you won't regret it.

Show a happy face

To the whole human race,

And Everything will be Copasetic.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Max on "Swing" - Max Bacon 1934

A rare piece of jazz drumming history today, a long out-of-print drum manual on swing drumming by drummer, actor and comedian Max Bacon, originally published by the Premier Drum Company in 1934.

Download the .pdf version here:


...or here:

If I had to guess, I might believe that this is one of the very first jazz drumming manuals or instructional books ever published (ed. note: I know that Gene Krupa and Dave Tough had some books published in the 1930s but I'd have to check the dates...)

I recently came across this book and author via drummer British drummer Daniel Harding's blog.

Here's an excerpt from Max on "Swing" via Harding's website and I think that many of these words still resonate today:

SWING. I cannot imagine a better name, for to me it conveys everything that is expressed in the ultra-modern rhythm. And before we go any farther, I want to pass this feeling on to you; because, until you learn what it is that we are to do, it is no use attempting to learn how it is to be achieved.

What, then, is this “swing”, which is the very essence of successful rhythmic playing to-day? Is it rhythm ? 

It is more than rhythm.

It is the very pulse of rhythm – that which beats within rhythm to give it life.

Unless the essential swing is there, the rhythm will cease to inspire: it may even cease to exist. 
Swing is a very elusive thing, but there is no mistaking it when you hear it. It is a sense of rhythmic balance which moves the whole band as one unit. It is a steady sweeping movement, like the swing of the pendulum of a grandfather clock. To and from: to and from.

That is swing ; and until a band get knack of swinging together, that band will not be a success. The expression of the rhythm is of the same type that you see in that super swing acquired by skilled skaters, dancing upon ice – large regular sweeps. 
Mind you, this swing is very difficult to acquire at first. It does not come all at once, even to the best musicians. I have often heard a bunch of well-known players get together for amusement and – experienced though they are – it will be quite a while before they begin to swing as a unit. In the same way, it sometimes happens that a band noted for its swing will lose it for a time. Lack of concentration, or over-tiredness is generally the cause.

But when once you get “into” the swing of the rhythm, you will find that you keep it, for the simple reason that a rhythmic movement, with its regular pulse, is the easiest to maintain.

What is the best way to acquire swing, you may well ask. First and foremost, it is a question of temperament: you must like it when you hear it and you must want to do it yourself. As you know, most dance drummers have become such because they were “drum-minded” ; they had in “in” them to become drummers. In just the same way, you must have it in you to feel that swing behind the rhythm. As I say, it is a question of temperament. It is, of course, partly what we call a gift. You must have the gift of a drumming mind. But it can most definitely be acquired to those who will.

There are several ways of helping yourself to get swing into your work. First and foremost, you must listen to those bands that are known to excel in this. Compare them with others and notice the difference. Then try and analyze their work and discover how this difference is produced. By this means, you will find yourself gradually “soaking your system” in swing until it enters your very blood and becomes part of you.

Having thus acquired it, the best way to produce it is to play easily. Do not be strained or forced. And to do this, you must, of course, have a certain amount of technique…..

Remember that the drummer has a very important part to play in swinging the band: and a poor drummer cannot swing a band, even if it is a good one. And the reverse of this is equally true.

- Max Bacon from Max on "Swing" (1934)

Monday, May 2, 2022

Francisco Mela and Susie Ibarra - Solo Drums & Percussion

Not much time for blogging these days as I'm quite busy playing for the current Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production of Family of Jazz which runs until May 15th. 

However, in the meantime, here's a pair of improvised solo performances today to check out from Francisco Mela and Susie Ibarra. I think these are great!