Monday, January 23, 2017

The Drummer as Composer: Joe Chambers

It's been awhile since I've blogged on the topic of Jazz drummers who also happen to be composers (personally think this is quite ironic given the considerable amount of time and energy that I spend daily thinking about this subject!) Anyways, here's a little gem from Bobby Hutcherson, my all-time vibraphone hero, on the importance of composing music, passed along from his friend and compatriot, the great Joe Chambers

“Joe Chambers told me that in order to complete your cycle you have to write, that way you can document what was going through your mind and where you were harmonically, theoretically, historically, to kind of show the things that you were thinking about, how you were feeling and the things you were working on,” Hutcherson said. “Are you working on a theory to create a puzzle, to be able to go in this side and get through the maze? Are you just looking for little situations, small motifs, little questions and answers? Are you looking for secondary melodies to come in, completely different from this but they will all add up? Then there’s the sound of the elements, the sound of wind, the sound of rain, how the notes and melodies are contained in a sunny day or a rainy day."

 - as told by Bobby Hutcherson via Jazz Times magazine:

Personally, I find little pieces of compositional wisdom such as this to be quite inspiring and motivating in my own compositional pursuits.

In my opinion Joe Chambers is an underrated Jazz drummer, vibraphonist AND composer (!), someone who we should all check out and learn from. At the very least his cymbal beat on Joe Henderson's "Mode for Joe" will forever stick in my mind (as does his playing on Wayne Shorter's "The All Seeing Eye" and "Adam's Apple" and absolutely everything he ever recorded with Bobby Hutcherson are other favorites as well...)

Here's an interview with Joe Chambers via Neon Jazz to check out:

Given that I'm an aspiring drummer composer myself, I find Chambers to be a great role model to follow. In fact, given his multi-faceted talents, in my opinion Chambers should serve as a role model for all aspiring Jazz drummers in today's day and age.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mike Clark & Ed Soph: PASIC 2016

It's been several years since I've had the opportunity to attend the Percussive Arts Society annual convention (maybe next year...) Fortunately I can still get a hint of all the great things that go on at PASIC thanks to the internet! Here's some highlights of two great sessions to take note of in particular featuring Ed Soph and Mike Clark respectively:

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

And…we're back.

Welcome to 2017! Hope you all had a pleasant Christmas and New Year's break. Thanks for checking in and thanks again for all your continued support.

Anyways, let's get down to business. Here's a few items of interest to get us started in the New Year ahead...

- GQ magazine recently featured this hip article on several of our Jazz elder statesmen:

It's hard to argue against the fact that Roy Haynes is clearly still the hippest and baddest dude to walk the planet earth.

- New York Times also featured this photo essay "Photos That Give the Drummer Some":

- Canadian Musician Magazine offers this column on musical drumming from contributors Mark Kelso, Terry Clarke, Larnell Lewis and Anthony Michelli:

- Carl Allen interviewed over at Harmony Central:

- Clarence Penn is interviewed at The Drummer's Resource Podcast:

Check out the other great audio interviews found here with the likes of Kenny Washington, Peter Erskine, Ed Soph, Ralph Peterson Jr., Michael Carvin and many, many others...

- A special shout out and thank you to my correspondents over at (of which I've been a member since 2005!) who informed me that the legendary John Von Ohlen (affectionately known as "The Baron") has recently released this book:

This is the first I've heard of this publication and look forward to checking it out.

John is also featured in this radio podcast from WVXU:

And thanks to Todd Bishop over at his superb blog Cruiseship Drummer for digging up this great interview with Von Ohlen from 1985:

- Jerome Jennings recently released his album "The Beast" (highly recommended) and took a break from his busy schedule (including playing with the likes of Christian McBride!) to speak with Neon Jazz about his new release:

- Ali Jackson Jr. and Jimmy Cobb both rummage through some old Jazz records that bring back some memories...

- Lewis Nash and Jeff Hamilton get busy in a serious percussion discussion:

And Nash and Terrell Stafford continue with their own duo...

- It's amazing to me that when Lewis Nash plays a drum set that isn't even a real drum set that Lewis Nash still sounds like….Lewis Nash!

- Thanks to the kind people over Vic Firth here's Justin Faulkner playing some serious drums:

- And what else can possibly bring a smile to your face than Ringo Starr playing some drums on a beach?

- What am I listening to these days?

Ted Warren's Warren Commission "The Great Regina Pizza Debate" - Ted Warren (drums & compositions)

Jerome Jennings "The Beast" - Jerome Jennings (drums)

Rudy Royston Trio "The Rise of Orion" - Rudy Royston (drums)

Tom Harrell "The Number Five" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

Pat Metheny "ECM :rarum Selected Recordings" - Danny Gottlieb, Bob Moses, Paul Wertico, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Higgins (drums), Gary Burton (vibes)

Grant Green "Street of Dreams" - Elvin Jones (drums), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes)

Joe Henderson "Power to the People" - Jack DeJohnette (drums)

- And today's Final Word(s) goes to Bruce Lee with some words of wisdom, inspiration and motivation to prepare us all for the year ahead:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ludwig Drum Co. Contest Solos

This is our last blog post of 2016 and we'd like to leave you all with a few things to practice over your holiday break. So dust off your drum pad and get to work! (perhaps this might be a chance to work off some of that turkey and extra piece of pie hmmmm?)

I'd like to thank Greg Way for giving me these sheets (and several large boxes of percussion literature!) back in the mid-90s before he left Regina, Saskatchewan for Ontario. If I had to guess I'd say this was some sort of educational promo material that the Ludwig Drum Company printed and distributed back in the 60s (?) Anyways, there are some real gems here that are just as relevant now as they were back then.

Here's a clip of the great Frank Arsenault performing the very same version of "The Downfall of Paris":

And J. Burns Moore playing the "Connecticut Halftime":

Here's "Hell on the Wabash" as performed in period uniform:

And the Hellcats lay it down on the "Three Camps" (this is a chops buster...):

Thank you all for your continued support.
See you in 2017!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Neil Peart Warming Up...

 I think this is amazing.

And it's no coincidence that the foot ostinato that Peart chose to use was directly inspired by Max Roach's "The Drum Also Waltzes" (I recall reading about this in Modern Drummer magazine, maybe back in early 90s sometime?)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tim Mah's Top Jazz Picks of 2016

Calgary's Tim Mah is a good friend, a huge supporter of the local scene here in Calgary and has excellent taste when it comes to food, wine, coffee, fashion and, of course, Jazz music. Tim was nice enough to contribute today's guest blog post, his choices for the best Jazz albums of 2016.

"Tim Mah's Top 2016 Jazz Albums" by Tim Mah

In December, many “Best of the Year” album lists are published and the Grammy Awards nominations are announced.  I like reading these lists, as they serve as a filter for the thousands of albums that are released each year. I often discover albums that I have not had the opportunity to hear.

Below is a list of 20 Jazz albums for 2016 that were among my favourite Jazz albums of the year, in no particular order:

1. Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling “Upward Spiral”

2.  Gregory Porter “Take Me to the Alley”

3. Murray Allen & Carrington Power Trio "Perfection" 

4.  Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, and Matthew Garrison "In Movement"

5. Jeremy Pelt "#Jiveculture"

6.  Ben Wendel "What We Bring"

7.  The Pedrito Martinez Group "Habana Dreams"

8.  Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander, and Jarle Vespestad "What Was Said"

9.  Takuya Kuroda "Zigzagger"

10.  Francisco Mela "Fe"

11.  Logan Richardson "Shift"

12.  Theo Croker "Escape Velocity"

13.  Alfredo Rodriguez "Tocororo"

14.  Camila Meza "Traces"

15.  Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society "Real Enemies"

16. Seamus Blake "Superconductor"

17. Champian Fulton "After Dark"

18. Esperanza Spalding "Emily's D+Evolution"

19. Jane Monheit "The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald"

20. Kris Davis “Duopoly”

"Honourable Mentions…"

Jerome Jennings “The Beast”  

Melissa Aldana “Back Home”

Brandi Disterheft “Blue Canvas”

Ingrid & Christine Jensen “Infinitude”

Al Muirhead “Oop!”

Bria Skonberg “Bria"

Marquis Hill “The Way We Play”

Dominic Faranacci “Short Stories”

Warren Wolf “Convergence”

Quinsin Nachoff “Flux"

Rudy Royston Trio “Rise of Orion”

Donny McCaslin “Beyond Now”

Robert Glasper Experiment “ArtScience”

Laurence Hobgood “Honor Thy Fathers”

Avishai Cohen “Into the Silence”

Terrace Martin “Velvet Portraits”

Ibrahim Maalouf “Khaltoum”

Metalwood “Twenty”

Snarky Puppy “Culcha Vulcha"

Norah Jones “Day Breaks"