Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Orleans Drumming

This rare resource recently popped up on the Tube, featuring Baby Dodds and a host of other drummers from the Crescent City I've never even heard of...(although apparently this obscure footage has been available on VHS for some time?)

Anyways, check this out and then get to work on your press rolls!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Second Triplet

About five years ago I had the opportunity to work with saxophonist Ralph Bowen and play a concert of his music arranged for big band. It was a wonderful experience and I also took advantage of the opportunity to take a lesson with him during his time in Calgary. Ralph is a serious musician with huge ears and he KNOWS drummers and drumming when he hears them so I was very interested in his perspective on my own playing. We spent the better part of an afternoon playing saxophone and drum duets.

One idea that he suggested that I explore more closely was a phrasing concept, the idea of emphasizing more of the 2nd triplet of each beat in my comping patterns, when playing a slow to medium tempo swing groove.

Something like this:

Of course, to my ears anyways, this immediately suggests the drumming of Elvin Jones who was famous for his triplet-laced comping style and his own unique emphasis of the 2nd triplet within his own timekeeping phrases.

So I came up with a few exercises to further develop this concept:

1) Mess around with the orchestration of every 2nd triplet of each beat of the bar, playing it on the snare drum, tom tom, floor tom, bass drum and hi-hat, mixing it up in different combinations, all while keeping Time on the ride cymbal. Once you are comfortable with this and can get a nice flow happening, start to leave the occasional note out. Think compositionally and get comfortable with the placement and feeling of that 2nd "inner" triplet.

Here's a couple more fun exercises to further explore this concept:

2) Play the Jazz ride cymbal rhythm (right hand) with the 2nd triplet as a constant rhythmic ostinato on the snare drum (left hand).

Then using Stick Control, add a constant eighth-note shuffle between your feet, orchestrating it as follows:

R= bass drum

L= hi-hat

You'll find that you will create a constant stream of triplets underneath your ride cymbal but the feet will never line up with the 2nd triplet on the snare drum. Clever eh?

3) Same idea as above except use Page 37 etc. from Syncopation and orchestrate the rhythms between your feet while your right hand plays the Jazz ride cymbal beat and your left hand plays the 2nd triplet of each beat as an ostinato on the snare drum.

a) bass drum = long notes

    hi-hat = short notes

b) Reverse*

c) bass drum = Any rhythm that lines up on beats 1 and 3 (including the +'s)

    hi-hat = Any rhythm that lines up beats 2 and 4 (including the +'s)

d) Reverse*

Take it slow and remember: Keep it Swinging!

*Perhaps try playing the hi-hat as an open "splash" sound when interpreting it as a "long" rhythm...

Monday, March 5, 2018

Conor's Corner: Advanced Triplet Subdivision Rhythm Exercise

Today marks the first of what will hopefully be a regular, on-going series of guest blog posts from my friend and great Irish Jazz drummer Conor Guilfoyle. He's been posting lessons on for quite some time now and I've always admired not only his wonderful information but also his excellent delivery and concise explanations as well.

Today Conor offers us an excellent explanation on how to use odd-grouping subdivisions over a triplet subdivision:

And here's the written companion to this piece:

To learn more about Conor's activities check out his website (there are also many more great lessons to check out here) and this interview from

Thanks again Conor and see you next time!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Kris Davis & Marcus Gilmore

Further to Monday's post, here's more footage from Kris Davis' album "Duopoly", this time featuring pianist Kris Davis with drummer Marcus Gilmore:

The world needs more music like this!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kris Davis & Billy Drummond

One of my favourite recent albums of the past couple of years is pianist Kris Davis' "Duopoly". This album features improvised duets between Davis and various improvisors. One such pairing finds pianist Kris Davis with drummer Billy Drummond on two tracks (the other piano/drums duets on the album features Marcus Gilmore). One selection features improvisations on the theme to "Eronel" and the other, a completely improvised duet statement.

Here's a Modern Drummer article about this unique collaboration:

And, fortunately for us, here is video footage of both tracks from the album:

I've always been a HUGE fan of Drummond's drumming and have known Kris since she was barely out of high school (!) During the summer of 1997 we played together in a piano trio at the Banff Centre for the Arts with bassist Solon McDade, participating in the summer Jazz workshop. Definitely a highlight for me and I hope to play with her again in the future. I look forward to hearing more creative projects and collaborations from Davis in the years to come.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tim Mah's Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest Review

Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah recently attended the 2018 edition of the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival and here's his full report and impressions of this successful Canadian Jazz festival:

Recap of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival - Tim Mah 


When: February 8 to 10, 2018

Where: downtown Ottawa at La Nouvelle Scene (12 concerts on two different stages, and two late night jams) and the Mercury Lounge (one concert).

Seating: all performances were general admission.

Run time: most performances had an hour run time, with some running longer. The concerts were scheduled with minimal overlap.

Thursday, February 8


Personnel: Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, synthesizer), Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), Guido Del Fabbro (violin synthesizer), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, melodica), Martin Tetrault (turntable)

The festival opened with Montreal chamber jazz group, Quartetski, performing music from their 2016 album called “Mikrokosmos: Quartetski Does Bartók”, featuring the band’s adaptation of progressive exercises and études by the great Béla Bartók.

Dock In Absolute

Personnel: Jean-Philippe Koch (piano), David Kintziger (bass), Michel Mootz (drums)

Dock In Absolute, a jazz trio from Luxembourg, performed music from their 2017 self-titled album. The trio has toured across Europe and Asia. Ottawa was their only Canadian stop on their current tour.

This is a video of “Submission” from the self-titled album of Dock In Absolute:

Barbra Lica

Personnel: Barbra Lica (voice), Marc Rogers (bass), Will Fisher (drums), Tom Fleming (guitar), Joel Visentin (piano, keys, accordion)

Performing songs from her album “I’m Still Learning” and new songs, Barbra Lica and her band sounded cohesive and polished. Barbra Lica quickly builds a rapport with her audience through her charm, wit and stories.

The EPK for the 2017 album “I’m Still Learning”:

Paolo Angeli

Personnel: Paolo Angeli (guitar, voice)

Touring North America in support of his 2017 album “Talea,” Paolo Angeli mesmerized the audience with his performance, featuring his customized Sardinian guitar. Here’s a video of his National Public Radio Tiny Desk Concert:

Friday, Feburary 9

Hilario Duran & the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band

Hilario Duran (piano), supported by the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band, delighted the audience, performing music from his repertoire, including “Parque 527” from his 2018 Juno award nominated album “Contumbao” and jazz standards (“Manteca”, “A Night in Tunisia”).

The EPK for Hilario Duran’s album “Contumbao”, released in 2017:

Emma Frank

Personnel: Emma Frank (voice), Jim Black (drums), Martin Heslop (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano), Simon Millerd (trumpet)

Emma Frank’s concert included songs from her new album, “Ocean Av” (released on February 16, 2018). Her songs are beautiful and feature intelligent lyrics.

The musicians on her new album include Emma Frank (vocals), Aaron Parks (piano), Jim Black (drums), Rick Rosato (bass) and Franky Rousseau (guitar).

The following is the video for “Ocean Av”:

Chet Doxas

Personnel: Chet Doxas (saxophone, electronics), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Rob Ritchie (guitar, synths), Zack Lober (bass, turntables), and Eric Doob (drums, electronics).

Chet Doxas and his band faithfully reproduced the music and energy from his 2018 Juno award nominated album, “Rich in Symbols” (inspired by the “No Wave” art movement of New York City’s Lower East Side between the years 1975-85). As the band performed each song, the corresponding piece of art was projected behind the band. The concert program with the corresponding pictures of the artwork can be found on Chet Doxas’ website:

Below is the video for “Starcrossings” from the album:

Jim Black Trio 

Personnel: Jim Black (drums), Thomas Morgan (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano)

The Jim Black Trio’s concert featured music from their 2016 album “The Constant”. A review of the album from NPR’s Fresh Air can be found here:

Saturday, February 10

Fred Hersch

Personnel: Fred Hersch (piano)

Twelve time Grammy nominated pianist and composer, Fred Hersch, performed a solo piano concert, in support of his 2017 album “Open Book.” He didn’t disappoint the sold out audience.

Fred Hersch “Plainsong” from the album “Open Book”:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart

Personnel: Heather Cornell (dance – sand, wood, tap), Jesse Stewart (drums, percussion)

This concert featuring Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart was fascinating; as Heather Cornell demonstrated her tap dance mastery and Jesse Stewart played some of his unique instruments (including triple flute, waterphone, handpan).

The performance was at Studio B in La Nouvelle Scene, which is a black box theatre with a flat floor. The first row was the best place to view Heather Cornell’s footwork. The rest of the audience would not have been able to see and hear the performance as well as those in the first row.