Monday, June 26, 2023

Tony Williams Lifetime - Montreux 1971

In the spirit of all the Canadian jazz festivals that are currently or soon-to-be underway, today's blog post features fantastic footage of Tony Williams' Lifetime band from the Montreux Jazz Festival circa. 1971.

Check out the 17:00 mark for a ridiculous version of Some Hip Drum Shit featuring Don Alias and Warren Smith (and a giant gong!) on percussion:


That was pretty cool.

I also went down a bit of a TW YouTube rabbit hole while writing this blog post last night and came across this excellent biography of Tony Williams courtesy of The Drum History Podcast:

And finally, if you need some recorded Tony Williams drum solos to study and gain inspiration from (and the answer is yes, you do!) here's a great compilation to start with:

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Four on the Floor *Live* featuring Keith Hall

Please join us for the final episode of Four on the Floor *Live* Season 3 happening next Tuesday, June 27th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Keith Hall!

Keith Hall has established himself as a passionate educator and joyful performer over the last 25 years. For 12 years, Keith spent much of his time touring worldwide and recording with singer and Concord Recording Artist Curtis Stigers. Hall has also performed with the likes of Randy Brecker, Betty Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Sir Roland Hanna, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Phillip Mossman, New York Voices, Andrew Rathbun, Janis Siegel, Luciana Souza, Terrell Stafford, Joe Wilder, Steve Wilson. He has recorded four CDs with Curtis Stigers as well as many other artists and he continues to tour and record with his critically acclaimed NYC-based trio TRI-FI. 

Hall lived and worked in New York City for nine years performing in a multitude of musical contexts. Although most of these were jazz, he was also a regular sub for Tommy Igoe on Broadway’s Lion King. Hall was a member of the Latin-jazz quartet, Grupo Yanqui, chosen by the United States State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center to represent the United States in the American Music Abroad Program. Hall was also a member of the prestigious Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead in 1997. 

He is the Artistic Director of the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive, a one of a kind jazz drum camp that celebrated its 14th year in 2020. He is also the Executive Director of TUNED IN, a nonprofit organization, which focuses on supporting the power of music education to change lives. 

Keith is the author of two instructional jazz drum set books: Jazz Drums Now! Vol. 1 and Jazz Drums Now! Vol. 2 and is the radio host for Jazz Currents on WMUK, the NPR affiliate in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hall presents clinics worldwide for Remo Drumheads, Yamaha Drums, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Zildjian Cymbals, Cympad, Big Fat Snare Drum, Rhythm Tech, and Protection Racket Drum Cases.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Lewis Nash - Skeeter Blues

"If you know the song, you'll never go wrong!"

- Roy Haynes (via Joe Farnsworth)

Truer words of drum wisdom are rarely spoken and today's blog post reflects this profound statement and features the great Lewis Nash in a drum lesson, demonstrating his approach to playing melodically and his composition Skeeter Blues:

And thanks to the prolific Jazz Video Guy Bret Primack, here's Lewis Nash demonstrating his masterful brush playing in Painting with Sound:

And finally here's two Facebook video excerpts from a drum masterclass in Singapore circa. 2018:

Part One: 

Part Two: 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Four on the Floor *Live* featuring Tim Reinert


Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, June 21st at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring The Jazz Infidel, Vancouver's Tim Reinert.

Tim Reinert works in the Vancouver area as a jazz concert promoter, label head, event MC, podcast host, and occasional writer. 

Under his Infidels Jazz brand, Tim works to build community around the music that he loves.

The Infidels Jazz is a jazz show celebrating the history and diversity of jazz music that streams weekly on Mixcloud. It’s also a brand new label that produces recordings of contemporary players and groups.

The Infidels Jazz was conceived in the distant era of the before-time, in the pre-pandemic, by Vancouver jazz aficionado, Tim Reinert.

Tim thinks, writes, and broadcasts about jazz a lot more than your average music fan. He’s as comfortable talking about the work of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Hancock, or Alice Coltrane, as he is riffing on the likes of Louis Moholo-Moholo, Gordon Grdina, Hamid Drake, Misha Mengleberg, and many many more.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Gretsch Drums: The Round Badge Stories

I love my Gretsch drums. I always used to love playing the well-worn set they had at school and would practice on Jesse Cahill's beautiful Gretsch walnut stain finish drums too when I was studying at McGill back in the day. I currently own a set of newer Gretsch USA Customs in bebop sizes (blue sparkle) and a set of older, larger drums refinished in a sweet burgundy/merlot sparkle finish (in the spirit of Mel Lewis!) I've also got a small 16x12 bass drum that I made out of an old converted floor tom that I can sub in and out as the situation warrants. These are all great drums, they have a ton of personality and a serious vibe. They look great and they sound great too. I love playing these drums and they never disappoint me.

Today's post features a great documentary from the Gretsch drum company as they celebrate their 140th anniversary.



In 1883, Friedrich Gretsch opened a small music shop in Brooklyn, New York. As American music like big band, bebop jazz, and rock n’ roll exploded in the next century, the round badge of Gretsch Drums became an iconic symbol of popular culture and “That Great Gretsch Sound” became the backbeat for popular music. What exactly is the ‘Great’ in Gretsch Drums?

From the start, it was personal to the Gretsch family. “My grandfather, Fred Gretsch Jr, gave me the spirit of this business at a young age in the 1950s,” says Fred Gretsch III. The company found a signature shell formula early on and, note by note, improved upon it as bebop jazz rose up around them in the cradle of New York City. Gretsch struck partnerships with countless legendary 20th century artists of cementing the brand’s position in American lore. “These drums have life in them,” says Cindy Blackman-Santana.

The Round Badge Stories investigates the mystique of Gretsch Drums with performances, interviews, and stories from artists, industry figures, and the Gretsch family. Take the journey with us to learn how and why the signature sound, feel, and spirit of Gretsch Drums has inspired such passionate loyalty from musicians that endures today.

Narrated by: Vinnie Colaiuta

Score By: Mark Guiliana

And from a recent Grestch celebration at New York's Cutting Room, here's the great Bill Stewart playing some Gretsch drums:

And from 1973 here's a Gretsch drum summit recorded in Central Park featuring Elvin Jones, Mel Lewis and Freddie Waits and Jo Jones:

Here is a link to the complete audio and, below, a portion of the concert via YouTube:

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Pete Zimmer & Jason Tiemann

It's a Four on the Floor *Live* double-header next week on Instagram Live IGTV!

Please join us for the next two action packed episodes of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, June 14th at 7pm MST (9pm EST) featuring Pete Zimmer and Thursday, June 15th at 11am MST (1pm EST) featuring Jason Tiemann, both appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog 

Since 2001, Pete Zimmer has established himself as one of the top-call drummers in New York City’s music scene. In December of 2021, Zimmer relocated to Chicago to become active in the Chicago and Midwest scene while still maintaining his performance schedule and established musical associations in New York. Originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Zimmer has made his mark nationally and internationally as a versatile and articulate drummer, bandleader, sideman, composer, educator, and record label entrepreneur.

Pete Zimmer has released five (5) critically acclaimed albums since 2004 as a leader on his own record label, Tippin’ Records. The albums showcase both his consistent swing and his skillful and melodic compositions. His composition, “Time That Once Was,” a moving ballad recorded on his first album Common Man, was recently licensed to Sony Pictures Television where it was featured in the opening scene of the series they produce “Masters of Sex” (Episode 307, Monkey Business), aired on Showtime. He has received many accolades from major publications, including "Pete Zimmer has learned his New York lessons well, as his dry tone, meaty swing beat and subtle accents make him an old hand” (Down Beat), and "Zimmer's drumming boasts a crisp, swinging command with judicious musicality." (Modern Drummer)

Zimmer’s band has performed at many of the prominent jazz venues in New York City and throughout the United States, including The Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Smoke Jazz Club, Smalls Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland Jazz Club, The Kitano, Fat Cat, Cornelia Street CafĂ©, Blues Alley, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Cliff Bells, Zanzibar Blue, Chris’ Jazz Cafe, NightTown, Andy’s Jazz Club, Winter’s Jazz Club, The Jazz Estate, Dazzle Jazz Club, Nocturne, Caffè Sole, Green Lady Lounge, Black Dolphin, Jazz Kitchen, Lagniappe, Jazz Factory, The Royal Room, and Le Chat, among others. He has toured throughout the United Kingdom performing at both Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza Express in London. Throughout the years his group has featured many of the top musicians, including Mike Rodriguez, Joel Frahm, Jeremy Pelt, George Garzone, Peter Bernstein, Wayne Escoffery, Avi Rothbard, David Wong, Peter Slavov, Rick Germanson, Toru Dodo, John Sullivan, Mike DiRubbo, Stacy Dillard, Miki Yamanaka, Yoshi Waki, Ryan Kisor, Vitaly Golovnev, George DeLancey, Jerry Weldon, Joseph Lepore, Jaleel Shaw, Jon Gordon, Robert Rodriguez, Jeb Patton, Tadataka Unno, Sam Trapchak, Patrick Cornelius, Daisuke Abe, Kuriko Tsugawa, Sharel Cassity, Marco Panascia, Yotam Silberstein, Nathan Peck, Michael Janisch, Pete Benson, Kyle Asche, Scott Burns, Geof Bradfield, Ivan Taylor, Jake Vinsel, Ben Markley, Ben Leifer, Matt Otto, Mitch Towne, Jim Pisano, William Flynn, Jeremy Thomas, Mark Small, Martin Bejerano, Alex Brown, Dion Kerr, Tim Jago, Fernando Ulibarri, Steve Allee, Jeremy Allen, Mark Davis, Jamie Breiwick, Dan Trudell, Jeff Hamann, Jeff Pedraz, Corey Kendrick, Ryan Freitas, John Gunther, Peter Sommers, Seth Lewis, Reggie Berg, Jason Crowe, Hans Teuber, Tim Kennedy, Geoff Harper, Bob Bowman, and others.

As a highly regarded educator and clinician, Pete Zimmer has presented clinics and masterclasses at many top collegiate jazz programs throughout the United States and United Kingdom. He was a faculty member with the New York Jazz Academy from 2009 until 2021.

As an active sideman, Zimmer has performed and/or recorded with the likes of George Garzone, Rodney Jones, Jeremy Pelt, Dennis Irwin, David Schnitter, Lezlie Harrison, Pat Mallinger, Champian Fulton, Akiko Tsuruga, Rick Germanson, Julius Tolentino, Gene Perla, Wayne Escoffery, Dan Nimmer, and many others.

Pete Zimmer’s record label, Tippin’ Records, was originally established to feature his own projects, but after having much success with his first few releases, it did not take long for other artists to solicit their projects to Tippin’. In 2009 Zimmer decided to expand the catalogue and encompass additional artists. The first additional artist was trumpeter Vitaly Golovnev with the release of To Whom It May Concern and was followed by guitarist Kyle Asche Organ Trio (featuring legendary organist Melvin Rhyne), Blues for Mel. The label now has a total of one dozen releases and six artists.

Zimmer’s education includes studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, earning his bachelor’s degree. He was fortunate to have apprenticeships with master musicians and teachers Danilo Perez, Cecil McBee, George Garzone, George Russell, Bob Moses, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Brookmeyer, Robert Chappell, Rich Holly, Ronald Carter, Jeff Stitely, Joel Spencer, and James A. Sewrey.

Jason Tiemann is a New York City based jazz drummer, where he maintains a busy schedule as a freelance performer and educator. Admittedly drawing influence from the great(s) Philly Joe Jones, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and Billy Higgins, Tiemann is quickly forging his musical voice on the New York scene by fusing his depth of historical foundation with crisp technique and propulsive, intuitive swing. Tiemann is currently on the jazz faculty of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the university of Hartford. Additionally, he has been an artist/clinician for the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops since 1998. Before moving to NYC, he was an active component of the Midwest Jazz community where he was in constant demand throughout the region as a performer and educator and was afforded the opportunity to accompany numerous jazz luminaries. Throughout his career, he has performed and/or recorded with an astonishing array of musicians including, but certainly not limited to, Benny Golson, David Liebman, Harold Mabern, Eric Alexander, Mike LeDonne, Peter Bernstein, Slide Hampton and countless others on the New York scene. Jason is an endorsing artist for Yamaha drums, Remo drumheads, and Innovative Percussion sticks, mallets and brushes.

Monday, June 5, 2023

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - June 2023

And...we're back.

Thanks for tuning in to the June 2023 edition of The Monday Morning Paradiddle, my regular ongoing and almost monthly jazz drumming variety column.

It's hard to believe but Four on the Floor is now fourteen years old (founded in the Spring of 2009!)

Thanks for all your continued support.

In case you haven't noticed, I rebooted my regular weekly interview series Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram for a third season now and this will continue weekly through July before I go on the road for the month of August.

These interviews have been a ton of fun and I always come away inspired and motivated following each of my conversations with the many jazz drumming Instagram personalities that I connect with. Tune in and come join the fun.

Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, June 7th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring New York drummer and educator Peter Retzlaff.

Anyhow, and now without any further adieu, here's this month's extensive offering of assorted and interesting jazz drumming items that I have to share with you:

1. How Rhythm Shapes Our Lives from the BBC

2. From London Jazz News: Mondays with Morgan featuring Joe Farnsworth and his new album In What Direction Are You Headed?

3. Check out my friend Craig VanDerSchaegen's fantastic new podcast series Practicing Drummer with great interviews from Billy Drummond, Colin Stranahan and Brad Webb

4. Discussions in Percussion podcast interviews Marvin Smitty Smith

5. The Working Drummer podcast features a ton of great interviews including the likes of Nasheet Waits, Joe LaBarbera, Bobby Sanabria, Cindy Blackman Santana and George Coleman Jr.

6. Vinnie Sperrazza continues with his excellent ongoing Substack series Chronicles with really well written and insightful commentary including:

Sonny Rollins and Max Roach

Billy Hart and Nasheet Waits: Just Friends

For Horacee Arnold

7. Joe ChambersLenny White and Willie Jones III featured on the Burning Ambulance podcast

8. A wonderful piece, The Meditative, Multihued Soundscapes of Tyshawn Sorey from Columbia Magazine

9.  Check out this AMAZING recent piece on Andrew Cyrille from Danish drummer Kreston Osgood's Facebook page:

10. John DeChristopher's series Live from my Drum Room featuring Jeff "Tain" Watts:

...and Cindy Blackman Santana:


11. And here's a great one of Cindy doing her thing:


12. Steve Gadd on his Yamaha Recording Custom drums:


13. Adam Nussbaum with Eliane Elias and Marc Johnson:


14. Portland's Mel Brown featured on Cedar Walton's Bolivia with bassist Alexander Claffy and pianist Randy Porter:


15. A few great solos from Allison Miller (my favourite drummer these days...) and a rundown of her drum set-up and cymbal selection:


16. The Hook Up from Montreal bassist Fraser Hollins interviews my good friend Rich Irwin:


17. Al Foster with Sonny Rollins:

18. Check out this 1978 drum duet featuring Tony Williams and Billy Cobham:


19. What am I listening to these days?

Artemis "In Real Time" - Allison Miller (drums)

Mulgrew Miller "Work!" - Terri Lyne Carrington (drums)

John Patitucci "Remembrance" - Brian Blade (drums)

Dave Holland "Prime Directive" - Billy Kilson (drums)

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

Jimmy Cobb "So Nobody Else Can Hear" - Jimmy Cobb (drums)

Duke Ellington "The Carnegie Hall Concerts: January 1943" - Sonny Greer (drums)

20. And today's Final Word goes to pianist Bill Carrothers. This post on Facebook earlier this year has been making the rounds amongst musicians on social media lately. I found it quite inspiring and felt inclined to share it with you all:

I recently had a young man write me asking for advice on how to proceed as an aspiring jazz musician. I'm always a bit nervous to dispense music/life advice to a stranger from my lowly perch, and it's all so subjective, but I told him what I tell my students every day. Maybe I'm just crazy. I can't tell anymore.

Here's the next step, the one that takes your whole life. Listen to the music you love, all day, every day, and imitate and assimilate. Listen to the way different guys comp and solo and try to do the same thing. Listen to instruments other than yours, to clue into what they do and how it's different. Study the instruments in the rhythm section to understand what each of them brings to the discussion and how they interrelate. Listen to how different people write, the history of all the folks who have written amazing things before you (Mozart, Bach, Ives, Cole Porter, Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Wayne Shorter, etc...). Dance around the room while you listen. Write. Call sessions. Play with others. Read poetry. Do things that scare you and things that aren't music. Box. Ride a motorbike. Jump out of an airplane. Whatever!

Now you are at the beginning of a very long journey which has no end, a voyage of self-discovery which is not a sprint but is instead the loneliness and persistence of the long-distance runner. Music is Mount Everest (a mountain that climbs as you climb it), and is strewn with the bodies of all the people who tried to do it before you. Pack accordingly. Learn to love the process more than the destination (which doesn't exist anyway). 

SIMPLY LOVE THE MUSIC! In the end it's that simple. And that difficult.

- Pianist Bill Carrothers via Facebook, March 2023

Friday, June 2, 2023

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Peter Retzlaff

Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, June 7th at 7pm MST (9pm EST), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring New York jazz drummer Peter Retzlaff.


Peter Retzlaff is a New York City-based drummer. In his formative years, Peter studied with many influential teachers/performers such as Bob Breithaupt, David Garibaldi, Ed Soph, Jim Chapin, Gary Chaffee, John Riley, Kenny Washington, and Billy Hart. As a performer, Peter is equally at home in jazz, rock, funk, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, odd meter, and New Orleans drumming styles. Peter has played with Kenny Werner, Greg Osby, Diane Schuur, Ray Vega, Maynard Ferguson, Pete McCann, Kim Bock, Loren Stillman, The BMI Big Band, The Jamie Begian Big Band, Steeplechase recording artists Flow, Matt Savage, Bo Diddley, Neil Diamond, The Drifters, The Coasters, Gloria Gaynor, American Idol finalists Melinda Doolittle, Jordan Sparks, and Constantine Maroulis, and contemporary bassist and singer Adeline Michele.

As an educator, Peter teaches private lessons in jazz, rock, funk-RnB, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Caribbean drumming styles. In addition, he teaches reading, chart interpretation, brushes, soloing, rudiments and snare drum technique (fundamental concepts, Moeller and push pull).

Peter is the author of two books, Turn It Up and Lay It Down: Baby Steps to Giant Steps (Hudson Music) and Contemporary Jazz Styles for Drums (Carl Fischer). Peter received a B.A. in Jazz and Commercial Music and a B.A. in Business Administration from Capital University. He also received a M.M. in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music.

The recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts Grants, Peter is a clinician for Sabian Cymbals, Canopus Drums, Innovative Percussion, Remo, and Prologix Percussion.