WELCOME TO FOUR ON THE FOUR: A BLOG ABOUT JAZZ DRUMMING AND ALL THINGS UNRELATED, BROUGHT TO YOU BY JON McCASLIN

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - April 2023

And...we're back.

Thanks for tuning in and it's been a minute since my last MMP column. Things are on the go however there are lots of interesting factoids to be found in today's piece and I hope you dig it.

Thanks again for all your support and please enjoy today's offerings:

1. A recent feature and interview with the legendary Ed Soph from Drumming News Network

2. There is a new documentary on Max Roach!

Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes is the story of a musician whose far-reaching ambitions were inspired and challenged by the inequities of the society around him. His stunningly diverse seven-decade career marked him as one of the great musical artists of the 20th century and a pioneering cultural activist at times when the nation was steeped in racism. The film follows Roach across a rich and complicated life, years of now-legendary achievement, deep personal struggle, and the price he paid for his outspoken views. His was an epic musical journey -- from the revolutionary Jazz of the 1940s to the Civil Rights years, through experiments in hip hop, multi-media works, and beyond. (from www.maxroachfilm.com)

Here's a review from SXSW (where it premiered) about Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes by Samuel Pollard and Ben Shapiro: https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/screens/2023-03-13/sxsw-film-review-max-roach-the-drum-also-waltzes/

I don't think this is available for wider, general viewing or distribution quite yet but when it is, rest assured that you'll hear about it here!

Here's the official website and it looks like it will be shown across the USA in limited viewings over the next few months.

3. Congratulations to Kendrick Scott on his recent release on Blue Note records, Corridors.

Here's a feature and interview from wbgo.org: 

https://www.wbgo.org/music/2023-03-08/music-is-for-a-message-kendrick-scotts-lifelong-quest-to-be-of-service-to-others-and-himself

 

4. Vinnie Sperrazza continues to knock it out of the park with his regular Substack series Chronicles. I encourage everyone to subscribe to his series as his writing and insights are very compelling. 

Check out these excellent and well researched columns including pieces on:

Joe Chambers

Max Roach and M'Boom

Mel Lewis and Richard Davis

Roy Haynes

Art Blakey and Wayne Shorter

Jim Black

Mark Guiliana on Jim Black

Shelly Manne

5. Carl Allen demonstrates a new microphone interface with his always supple and musical drumming:

6. Chicago's George Fludas offers these awesome lessons featuring phrases from both Max Roach and Elvin Jones:

7. Joe Farnsworth demonstrates some up tempo ride cymbal playing:

(and....if you listen very carefully, that was also the sound at the very end of me heading back into the woodshed. Yikes!)

8. Allison Miller was recently a featured special guest soloist in Stephan's Basement YouTube.com series:

 

9. The Drum History Podcast offers this feature, The Drum Legends of Wayne Shorter with special guest and historian Mark Griffith:

 

10. When speaking of the late Wayne Shorter and drummers, the conversation (as above) will invariably include Brian Blade

Here's a great episode from the You'll Hear It podcast and Open Studio in which they share their appreciation and insights into Blade's influential drumming and music:

And course if one needed any reminding...

11. The Drum Candy Podcast features an interview with Jim White

Jim doesn't know this but 30 years ago or so he wrote an article for Percussive Notes in which he listed about a dozen or so must listen to jazz drummers and recordings. I kept that list in a binder for years and made it my personal mission to find and listen to all of the them. Of course nowadays one can just find everything on Spotify or YouTube (!) but back in the day (ie. the 1990s!) one still had to track down physical copies of music in order to listen to them. Jim's article was an important part of my development back then and finding those recordings one by one was definitely part of that.

12. The always inspiring Adam Nussbaum interviewed by Drummer Nation:

13. Check out this orchestrated drum duet between Joe LaBarbera and Sinclair Lott based on Max Roach's Conversation:

 

14. Dig this up close footage and the graceful drumming of Portland's jazz drumming great Mel Brown

 

15. Some incredible footage of Michael Carvin with Hampton Hawes' trio filmed in Paris (circa. early 70s?):

 

16. Montreal bassist Fraser Hollins offers his interview with Parisian drummer Karl Jannuska in his new and hopefully ongoing series The Hook Up:

Both Fraser and Karl are serious musicians and I learned a great deal going to school with Karl (attending McGill University) and playing with Fraser during my time in Montreal. I look forward to more episodes in this series.

17. A feature on Billy Hart from his recent masterclass at the Liceu Conservatory in Barcelona:

 

18. And finally some recent footage featuring the duet combination of Dave Douglas and Joey Baron from their recent European tour: 

I really hope that we see an album or recording of some sort come out of this collaboration!


19) What am I listening to these days?

Michel Lambert & Rakalam Bob Moses "Meditation on Grace" - Michel Lambert, Rakalam Bob Moses (drums & percussion)

Carl Allen "The Pursuer" - Carl Allen (drums)

Viviane Martin "I Know a Thing" - Owen Howard (drums)

Pat LaBarbera "Pass it On" - Joe LaBarbera (drums)

Morgan Childs "On the Street of Dreams" - Morgan Childs (drums)

Johnny V "Agonistically Eclectic" - Duris Maxwell (drums)

Andy Cree "Live at the Bassment" - Andy Cree (drums)

Kenny Barron & Regina Carter "Freefall"


20) And today's Last Word goes to the late Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock who, together, offered their wisdom via an open letter published on Hancock's website a few years ago (thanks to bassist Solon McDade who shared this via the Facebook following Shorter's recent passing):


An Open Letter To The Next Generation Of Artists – by Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter

To the Next Generation of Artists,

We find ourselves in turbulent and unpredictable times.

From the horror at the Bataclan to the upheaval in Syria and the senseless bloodshed in San Bernardino, we live in a time of great confusion and pain. As an artist, creator and dreamer of this world, we ask you not to be discouraged by what you see but to use your own lives, and by extension your art, as vehicles for the construction of peace.

While it’s true that the issues facing the world are complex, the answer to peace is simple; it begins with you. You don’t have to be living in a third world country or working for an NGO to make a difference. Each of us has a unique mission. We are all pieces in a giant, fluid puzzle, where the smallest of actions by one puzzle piece profoundly affects each of the others. You matter, your actions matter, your art matters.

We’d like to be clear that while this letter is written with an artistic audience in mind, these thoughts transcend professional boundaries and apply to all people, regardless of profession.

FIRST, AWAKEN TO YOUR HUMANITY

We are not alone. We do not exist alone and we cannot create alone. What this world needs is a humanistic awakening of the desire to raise one’s life condition to a place where our actions are rooted in altruism and compassion. You cannot hide behind a profession or instrument; you have to be human. Focus your energy on becoming the best human you can be. Focus on developing empathy and compassion. Through the process you’ll tap into a wealth of inspiration rooted in the complexity and curiosity of what it means to simply exist on this planet. Music is but a drop in the ocean of life.

EMBRACE AND CONQUER THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

The world needs new pathways. Don’t allow yourself to be hijacked by common rhetoric, or false beliefs and illusions about how life should be lived. It’s up to you to be the pioneers. Whether through the exploration of new sounds, rhythms, and harmonies or unexpected collaborations, processes and experiences, we encourage you to dispel repetition in all of its negative forms and consequences. Strive to create new actions both musically and with the pathway of your life. Never conform.

WELCOME THE UNKNOWN

The unknown necessitates a moment-to-moment improvisation or creative process that is unparalleled in potential and fulfillment. There is no dress rehearsal for life because life, itself, is the real rehearsal. Every relationship, obstacle, interaction, etc. is a rehearsal for the next adventure in life. Everything is connected. Everything builds. Nothing is ever wasted. This type of thinking requires courage. Be courageous and do not lose your sense of exhilaration and reverence for this wonderful world around you.

UNDERSTAND THE TRUE NATURE OF OBSTACLES

We have this idea of failure, but it’s not real; it’s an illusion. There is no such thing as failure. What you perceive as failure is really a new opportunity, a new hand of cards, or a new canvas to create upon. In life there are unlimited opportunities. The words, “success” and “failure”, themselves, are nothing more than labels. Every moment is an opportunity. You, as a human being, have no limits; therefore infinite possibilities exist in any circumstance.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO INTERACT WITH THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU

The world needs more one-on-one interaction among people of diverse origins with a greater emphasis on art, culture and education. Our differences are what we have in common. We can work to create an open and continuous plane where all types of people can exchange ideas, resources, thoughtfulness and kindness. We need to be connecting with one another, learning about one another, and experiencing life with one another. We can never have peace if we cannot understand the pain in each other’s hearts. The more we interact, the more we will come to realize that our humanity transcends all differences.

STRIVE TO CREATE AGENDA-FREE DIALOGUE

Art in any form is a medium for dialogue, which is a powerful tool. It is time for the music world to produce sound stories that ignite dialogue about the mystery of us. When we say the mystery of us, we’re talking about reflecting and challenging the fears, which prevent us from discovering our unlimited access to the courage inherent in us all. Yes, you are enough. Yes, you matter. Yes, you should keep going.

BE WARY OF EGO

Arrogance can develop within artists, either from artists who believe that their status makes them more important, or those whose association with a creative field entitles them to some sort of superiority. Beware of ego; creativity cannot flow when only the ego is served.

WORK TOWARDS A BUSINESS WITHOUT BORDERS

The medical field has an organization called Doctors Without Borders. This lofty effort can serve as a model for transcending the limitations and strategies of old business formulas which are designed to perpetuate old systems in the guise of new ones. We’re speaking directly to a system that’s in place, a system that conditions consumers to purchase only the products that are dictated to be deemed marketable, a system where money is only the means to an end. The music business is a fraction of the business of life. Living with creative integrity can bring forth benefits never imagined.

APPRECIATE THE GENERATION THAT WALKED BEFORE YOU

Your elders can help you. They are a source of wealth in the form of wisdom. They have weathered storms and endured the same heartbreaks; let their struggles be the light that shines the way in the darkness. Don’t waste time repeating their mistakes. Instead, take what they’ve done and catapult you towards building a progressively better world for the progeny to come.

LASTLY, WE HOPE THAT YOU LIVE IN A STATE OF CONSTANT WONDER

As we accumulate years, parts of our imagination tend to dull. Whether from sadness, prolonged struggle, or social conditioning, somewhere along the way people forget how to tap into the inherent magic that exists within our minds. Don’t let that part of your imagination fade away. Look up at the stars and imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut or a pilot. Imagine exploring the pyramids or Machu Picchu. Imagine flying like a bird or crashing through a wall like Superman. Imagine running with dinosaurs or swimming like mer-creatures. All that exists is a product of someone’s imagination; treasure and nurture yours and you’ll always find yourself on the precipice of discovery.

How does any of this lend to the creation of a peaceful society you ask? It begins with a cause. Your causes create the effects that shape your future and the future of all those around you. Be the leaders in the movie of your life. You are the director, producer, and actor. Be bold and tirelessly compassionate as you dance through the voyage that is this lifetime.

– Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock




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

Monday, April 17, 2023

Alvin Queen!










I had the opportunity to hear Alvin Queen play the drums with Oscar Peterson at Birdland in New York City circa. 2004 and his dynamic, hard swinging drumming left a profound impression on me. I waited in line outside the club for over an hour in the rain to hear Oscar Peterson's quartet (!) but it was worth it and I managed to secure a seat in the front row (sitting next to none other than the great bassist Ron Carter!) I recall that Alvin opened the set with a high energy drum solo bursting into a deep, funky second-line groove while the rest of the band took the stage (including Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen on bass and Ulf Wakenius on guitar, supporting Oscar Peterson on piano).

• Here's a few pieces that chronicle Alvin Queen's life story:


• A short drum lesson with Alvin from New Morning Jazz TV:

https://newmorning.ch/index.php/component/allvideoshare/video/alvin-queen-on-drum?fbclid=IwAR3GZ5BrZdpmX8OQtCcrckLOs23hClnHiAu9aoUqoIyFhgfa2lkat18gzyE

• A drum solo excerpt filmed in Copenhagen circa. 1986:


• And a favourite and creative solo drum composition from his album Ashanti:



Monday, April 10, 2023

Louis Hayes - NEA Jazz Master









Congratulations to Louis Hayes on recently being named a NEA Jazz Master!

 

Here's a full-length interview from the National Endowment for the Arts:


...and a couple of favourite clips of mine featuring Louis Hayes in his element:
 




Monday, April 3, 2023

Freddie Waits 1987









Thank you to Chad Anderson who shared this rare hour-long video footage of the great Freddie Waits, demonstrating jazz drumming techniques for Spanish television circa. 1987:


Unfortunately I don't speak or understand Spanish but I think the drumming is incredible!