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

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Four on the Floor *Live* on Instagram IGTV featuring Mike Clark!

Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, July 6th at 12pm mountain (2pm eastern/11am pacific), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring Mike Clark!

www.drummermikeclark.info

 

Mike Clark gained worldwide recognition as one of America’s foremost jazz and funk drummers while playing with Herbie Hancock in the early seventies. His incisive playing on Hancock’s “Actual Proof” garnered him an international cult following and influenced generations of drummers. While Mike digs the funk, he considers jazz his first love, and playing that music is what he says feeds his soul.

Besides Herbie Hancock, Mike has performed and recorded with such well-known jazz greats as Christian McBride, Chet Baker, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Donald Harrison, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Vince Guaraldi, Woody Shaw, Albert King, Larry Coryell, Mike Wolff, Wallace Roney, Billy Childs, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Chris Potter, Bobby McFerrin, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., and Gil Evans and his Orchestra.

Born in Sacramento, CA, Mike traveled around the country with his father, a union man for the railroad, and a former drummer himself. His dad had a great appreciation for jazz and blues music, and Mike credits this exposure as forming the foundation for his ability to synthesize many different regional styles. He absorbed the music of America while riding the rails. From age 4, he was a prodigy, sitting in—and getting “house” —- with bands in Texas and New Orleans. By the time he reached his early twenties, he had become one of the founders of the distinctive East Bay Sound coming out of Oakland, California.

During the late sixties, Mike led his own jazz organ trio,. Then he met Hancock in 1973. With Herbie, Mike set the rhythms for the acclaimed group, The Headhunters. Afterwards, he did a two-year stint with Brand X, the British jazz/rock fusion band founded by Phil Collins. With them he recorded ”Do They Hurt?” and “Product.”

By 2000, Mike had made a foray into the popular jam band scene. His group Prescription Renewal pulled together cross-generational talents, such as Charlie Hunter, Fred Wesley, Skerik, Robert Walter, and DJ Logic, and featured special guests such as Donald Harrison, George Porter Jr. of The Meters, Les Claypool, Larry Goldings and fellow Headhunters alumni Bill Summers. He also toured with The Roots Funk All Stars.

Along with James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield, Mike's beats with The Headhunters (most notably “God Make Me Funky”) include some of the most sampled in hip hop. He has been featured in Downbeat, Musician, International Musician & Recording World, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Is, and numerous jazz history and method books.

Mike is a popular and busy clinician. His latest book, “The Post Bop Drum Book” on Hudson Music is a big hit. A previous book, “Funk Drumming: Innovative Grooves & Advanced Concepts” was published in 2012 by Hal Leonard.

As a bandleader, his release “Give The Drummer Some” earned a rare four and a half stars in Downbeat. “The Funk Stops Here,” a joint effort with Hancock alumni Paul Jackson got five stars, as did 2011’s “Carnival of Soul.” In 2001, his solo CD “Actual Proof” met with critical acclaim, as did the 2003 acoustic jazz release, “Summertime,” featuring Chris Potter and Billy Childs, which spent weeks in the top ten jazz charts. 2009’s “Blueprints of Jazz” featuring Patrice Rushen, Randy Brecker, Donald Harrison, Rob Dixon, and Christian McBride was considered one of the top jazz releases of the new millenium by Downbeat magazine.

In 2012 Mike co-led The Headhunters,’ with original founding member Bill Summers. 2012 saw a new Headhunters' release, “Platinum.” which featured guest turns by Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, and Killah Priest.

Another musically exciting year was 2015. His second Wolff & Clark Expedition CD released in February, and his hard bop band “Indigo Blue Live at the Iridium” arrived six months later, both on Random Act Records. Both CDs featured Christian McBride on bass, Donald Harrison on alto, Rob Dixon on tenor, Antonio Farao on Piano and Randy Brecker on trumpet.

Mike has produced three releases for the spoken word prophet Tony Adamo, indulging ”Miles of Blu” with Tower of Power's Doc Krupka, bass legend Paul Jackson, and Michael Wolff. Along with drum legend Lenny White (Return to Forever), Mike is co-leading Nu Brew, a double drummer experience in new music. He also appears on Tower of Power's organist Chester Thompson's “Mixology.”

During Covid, Mike did many online drum clinics and co-led a record date with Michael Wolff and Leon Dorsey: “Wolff, Clark and Dorsey Play Sgt. Pepper.” On this date they played swinging arrangements of Beatles tunes, acoustic jazz style. He also was a sideman on Leon Dorsey's “Thank you Mr, Maybern” with the late great Harold Maybern and Leon in a hard swinging trio setting, “DSC MonkTime” celebrated the music of Thelonious Monk, once again with Leon Dorsey, with Dorsey and Greg Skaff as co-leaders. He also is a founding member of The StickPeople, an online interview show, along with Lenny White, David Garabaldi, Michael Shrieve and Greg Errico. The four drummers do online interviews with great artists playing jazz, funk, fusion and all things music!

As of 2021, Mike still lives in New York City. His latest CD, “Mike Drop” with sax great Michael Zilber is in the top ten on Jazz Weekly. Mike is with Leon Lee Dorsey and Manny Valera on Leon's new record “Freedom Jazz Dance” which debuted on Jazz Weekly at number 16. He was in Chicago recently with Donald Harrison and the great Fred Wesley; then Donald and Mike left for Indiana to co-lead an organ trio at the famous Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. He also just finished a “beats” recording for Yurt Rock which will be out in the fall 2021, along with his newest, “Mike Clark plays Herbie Hancock—Again!” an acoustic jazz recording out next year.

Mike endorses DW Drums, Istanbul Cymbals, Evans Drum heads, and Innovation Percussion drumsticks.
 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Kenny Clarke Returns!


 













Last week's post featuring Kenny Clarke got a lot of attention and I received some great messages and comments on social media from many of you out there. Thanks for reaching out and I decided to follow up with some more Klook today.

Pittsburgh's Thomas Wendt pointed out that the track I posted last week was from a Kenny Clarke-Ernie Wilkins Septet album recorded for Savoy in 1955:

Ireland's Conor Guilfoyle also took the time to scan the liner notes from this album:






And thanks to Toronto's Nick Fraser who shared this track of Billie's Bounce recorded by Eddie Bert featuring a wonderfully melodic drum solo from Kenny Clarke, no doubt informed by the melody in question:
 

And while we're on the subject of Kenny Clarke, check out this episode from the infamous History of Jazz Drumming radio series featuring Mel Lewis and Loren Schoenberg, originally broadcast in 1989:

Monday, June 20, 2022

Kenny Clarke 1955





















Three unique and interesting videos featuring Kenny Clarke today.

First up, a wonderfully melodic drum solo interpretation of Charlie Parker's bebop anthem Now's the Time. I've never heard this one before nor do I know which album it's from. But if I had to guess, perhaps it's an outtake from one of his sessions recorded for Savoy? (*Editors Note: after some internet sleuthing, I think it's from this album recorded with Ernie Wilkins:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Clarke_%26_Ernie_Wilkins)

 

And here's a rare selection and a dazzling display of the drum set featuring Klook, from the LP Spotlight on Percussion, also recorded circa. 1955:

 

And finally, a drum exchange between Kenny Clarke and British jazz drummer Kenny Clare (and in colour!):
 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

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






















Please join us for the next episode of Four on the Floor *Live* happening next Wednesday, June 22nd at 12pm mountain (2pm eastern/11am pacific), appearing on Instagram Live IGTV @fouronthfloorblog featuring George Marsh, author of the book Inner Drumming.



 

At fifteen George Marsh became a professional drummer in Belleville, Illinois. His early experiences included work with Sam Andria, Jimmy Williams, and Barbara Streisand (before she became a super star). He studied percussion with Tom Siwe and Jack McKenzie at Champagne-Urbana, and later played with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Judy Roberts Trio, John Klemmer, William Russo's experimental big band, The Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players and many great Chicago jazz musicians.

Since 1968, he has lived in the San Francisco area where he has performed and recorded with musicians such as: Denny Zeitlin, David Grisman Quintet/Sextet, Jerry Garcia, John Abercrombie, Mose Allison, Smith Dobson, Joe Henderson, Art Lande, Harold Land, Terry Riley, William Allaudin Mathieu, Pauline Oliveros, Kronos Quartet, Mel Martin, etc. If you were around in 1970, perhaps you caught him with Chuck Berry, Loading Zone or The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood at the Fillmore West and East.

I started teaching shortly after I got my first drumset at age 12. There were very few jazz drummers in Belleville and the surrounding area at the time (1953) and I had learned a lot by seeing Gene Krupa, Papa Jo Jones, and Buddy Rich at Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts. I can still feel the excitement when I saw Count Basie with Sonny Payne on drums! A little later when I was in high school I would go to Peacock Alley in St. Louis and see Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Art Blakey - all at the young age of 16.

George has written percussion music for such films as Never Cry Wolf and The Black Stallion. He premiered a suite of his pieces for chamber ensemble in the fall of 2002 at the Lincoln Center in New York which featured Rich Fudoli (reeds), David Wessel (interactive electroacoustics), and Mel Graves, bass. And he also performed on this same concert with Timeless Pulse featuring Pauline Oliveros (just intonation accordion), Thomas Buckner (vocals), Jennifer Wilsey (percussion), and David Wessel (interactive electroacoustics).

George has taught drumming and rhythm theory at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1982 and at Sonoma State University. He also teaches remotley from his private studio in Santa Rosa California. His book, Inner Drumming is a highly praised and unique manual for drummers.






















This book is an instruction manual that offers ways to enhance internal awareness while playing with one, two, three and finally all four limbs. The method allows the drummer to de-condition pathways of inappropriate reflexive responses that often appear when body energy is not flowing most efficiently.

When you play the drums you are already experiencing Inner Drumming, if not consciously, then subconsciously. The easiest way to experience this is to play a simple rhythm with two hands. Playing

hand to hand is basic to all drumming and all drummers do it naturally. As you play hand to hand, slow the motions way down while feeling deeply what’s going on inside your body, what’s happening between the strokes. In deep slow-motion, be internally aware of your movement from limb to limb. This increased awareness is what I call Inner Drumming.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Evan's Drum: Keeping the Inuit Drumbeat Alive

Filmed and directed by Ossie Michelin for the National Film Board of Canada, Evan’s Drum is the beautiful story of an adventurous seven-year-old boy from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland. Evan is part of a new generation of Labrador Inuit who are among the first in living memory to grow up with the sounds of drum dancing since birth.

An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home, and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.