My monthly jazz drumming workshop series continues on Saturday, December 17th.
These regular workshops and group sessions are occurring monthly and address such topics as time keeping, ride cymbal techniques, comping, independence & coordination, snare drum rudiments, brush playing, soloing, jazz drumming history and more!
Big thanks to Bret Primack aka The Jazz Video Guy for sharing this inspiring footage of the great Billy Higgins with Cedar Walton's quartet (along with David Williams on bass and Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone), featured here on Walton's classic composition Firm Roots, filmed at the Umbria Jazz Festival circa. 1997:
A pair of pieces featuring the great Jo Jones today.
First up, a brilliantly epic version of Caravan featuring Jo Jones with Mary Lou Williams circa. 1978.
I attended a wonderful listening session with Toronto clarinetist Virginia MacDonald last week at the JazzYYC Tune In - Tune Up conference in Calgary, AB. Virginia played a lot of great music for us by many overlooked female jazz artists and Mary Lou Williams featured prominently in her presentation. And of course this eventually led me down a bit of a rabbit hole and I eventually discovered the clip you see below:
Toronto jazz drummer Morgan Childs also shared this Jazz at the Philharmonic concert filmed in the Netherlands circa. 1957 featuring the Oscar Peterson trio, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge, Stuff Smith and others....with Jo Jones behind the drums, who is swinging the band and audience into a frenzy, all with a big smile on his face!
Take a listen to this entire concert and watch the Master in action:
And a few more things worthy of checking out:
- An older 2020 piece from Vinnie Sperrazza's fine and always insightful blog entitled Listen to Jo Jones
- And Jazz Profiles offers this extensive feature on Jo Jones' musical career
I am working towards a very cool collaborative drumming and contemporary dance project these days. So choreographer Catherine Hayward and I were checking out some music featuring Brian Blade with Daniel Lanois for some inspiration last week and of course this lead me down a bit of a Brian Blade rabbit hole. And here it is.
Thanks to Drummerworld's Bernhard Castiglioni who shared these videos of Brian Blade with Joshua Redman circa. 1994:
I've been a huge fan of Billy Drummond's drumming and music for over 25 years now (thank you Joel Haynes!) so naturally I was very honoured and excited to have the opportunity to speak with one of my drum heroes.
Check it out:
Acclaimed by Downbeat as “one of the hippest bandleaders now at work,” Billy Drummond’s thrilling, powerful and highly musical playing has also made him one of the most called-for sidemen of his generation.
Mentored in the bands of jazz legends Horace Silver, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, J J Johnson and Sonny Rollins, Drummond is now widely acknowledged as one of today’s most versatile drummers, making sideman appearances with a veritable who’s who of jazz greats on over 350 albums.
He has made four albums as a leader—including Dubai, a New York Times Number 1 Jazz Album of the Year—and five as a co-leader, including We’ll Be Together Again in Three’s Company, a trio with Javon Jackson and legendary bassist Ron Carter, which made several Top Ten lists of the Year. Modern Drummer magazine recently honored Dubai as one of the 50 Crucial Jazz Drumming Recordings of the Past 100 Years—”distilling to only 50, a century’s worth of drumming on jazz recordings, which by any reasonable guess would comprise tens if not hundreds of thousands of titles.”
Born in Newport News, Virginia, where he grew up listening to his father’s extensive jazz record collection, Drummond was leading his own bands from the age of eight, and teaching adults from the age of just 14, before going on to study classical percussion at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. In the late 1980s, he was encouraged by Al Foster to move to New York, where he was almost immediately recruited to the young band Out of the Blue (OTB), recording Spiral Staircase for Blue Note Records. When OTB disbanded, Billy joined Horace Silver’s Sextet, simultaneously starting life-long associations with Buster Williams and Bobby Hutcherson, and subsequently joining J J Johnson’s band, followed by a three-year stint touring with Sonny Rollins.
Since then, Drummond has performed and recorded with many of the world’s jazz greats, including Horace Silver, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, Steve Kuhn, JJ Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Charles Tolliver, Nat Adderley, Charles McPherson, Eddie Henderson, James Moody, Sheila Jordan, Andrew Hill, Ron Carter, Carla Bley, Eddie Gomez, Larry Willis, Hank Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Konitz, Stanley Cowell, Archie Shepp, Joe Lovano, Javon Jackson, Chris Potter, Eric Reed, Ralph Moore, Vincent Herring, Franco Ambrosetti (Italy), Karin Krog (Norway), Sadao Wantanabe (Japan), Toots Thielemans (Belgium), Barney Wilen (France), Laurent DeWilde (France), Jan Lundgren (Sweden), and Michel LeGrand (France).
“I consider myself very fortunate to have come up playing with some of the innovators of jazz who, in many instances, helped shape the way this music is and will always be played,” says Drummond. “Priceless experience for a young person learning how to be a musician. They taught me how to be a professional – to know the material, to be on time and, most of all, to play from your heart.”
In addition, Drummond is a highly respected educator who has taught some of the current generation’s best young drummers while juggling a busy touring schedule with his duties as Professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School of Music and NYU. He also gives private lessons and master classes—via Zoom and in-person—all over the world.
My monthly jazz drumming workshop series continues on Sunday, November 20th.
These regular workshops and group sessions will address such topics as time keeping, ride cymbal techniques, comping, independence & coordination, snare drum rudiments, brush playing, soloing, jazz drumming history and more!
This is a blog about jazz, jazz drumming and all things unrelated. Thanks for stopping by!
A Bit About Me...
Jonathan McCaslin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. Jonathan began playing the drums at the age of nine. He progressed through the Regina Lions Junior Band and the music program at his high school, Campbell Collegiate, soon developing a passion for playing the drums and jazz. Ultimately, Jon's interest in music led him to enroll in the Jazz Studies program at McGill University, graduating with distinction in 1999.
While at McGill Jon had the opportunity to study with some of the finest jazz educators in the country including Gordon Foote, Kevin Dean, Jan Jarcyzk, Chris McCann, Andre White, Michel Lambert and Dave Laing. He also attended the prestigious summer jazz workshop presented by the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1997, where he performed with Canadian jazz greats Hugh Fraser, Don Thompson and Kenny Wheeler.
Jon has also been fortunate to have performed with many of Canada's jazz elite including Charlie Biddle, Brian Hurley, Louise Rose, Alaister Kay, Mart Kinny, Gary Guthman, Mike Rud, Hadley Caliman, Greg Clayton, Chase Sanborn, Andre White, Tilden Webb, John LaBelle, Kevin Dean, Dave Turner, Ralph Bowen, Don Thompson, Dionne Taylor, Jim Vivian, Kelly Jefferson, Ian McDougall, Brad Turner, Jim Brenan, The McGill Jazz Orchestra, Jeff Johnston, Lorraine Desmerais, Steve Amirault, Hugh Fraser, Chucho Valdes, Kieran Overs, The Altsys Jazz Orchestra, Pat LaBarbera, The Regina Symphony Orchestra and The Montreal Jazz Big Band.
In the spring of 2002 McCaslin completed his Master's in Jazz Studies at McGill University where he studied jazz drumming, improvisation and composition.
In January 2003 Jon released his debut CD, “McCallum’s Island”. Featuring his quintet, the CD contains an exciting collection of McCaslin’s original compositions, featuring himself and his band. The release of this CD was followed by a twenty-day tour of Western Canada, performing to enthusiastic, capacity audiences. During March of 2003 Jonathan was the recipient of a fellowship from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and attended the “Betty Carter Jazz Ahead” residency in Washington, D.C. Along with twenty other distinguished young jazz artists, McCaslin was featured with such jazz icons as Terence Blanchard, Carmen Lundy, Winard Harper, Curtis Fuller and John Clayton.
McCaslin’s quintet performed at the 2003 edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival and was nominated for the General Motors Grand Prix du Festival (awarded to the most outstanding Canadian group). From 2004 until 2006, Jon toured North America, Asia and Europe with the high-energy, critically acclaimed music production troupe “Barrage”. Featuring a cast of seven world-class fiddlers and a four-piece band, this dynamic show featured high-energy music and fiddle traditions from around the world set to upbeat choreography and movement.
In 2015, Dr. McCaslin received his Doctorate through the University of Toronto and completed his dissertation on the conceptualization of contemporary melodic jazz drumming. He is currently based in Calgary, Alberta where he maintains a busy performing and teaching schedule across Canada.