Saturday, September 14, 2019

George Garzone doc

Boston is a pretty amazing place. It has been the birth place or primary residence to such great musical artists as Roy Haynes, Bob Moses, Benny Sharoni,  Bob Gullotti, Tony Williams, Alan Dawson, Jerry Bergonzi, and of course the great George Garzone. Here's a great recently released  doc about him. Enjoy!


Monday, September 9, 2019

In defence of reading.......

These are indeed interesting times to be a drummer. More and more, the jobs I play involve "ear" work or at the most reading lead sheets. The only regular reading I'm guaranteed to do is once a month with John MacLeod's big band at the Rex, and even then, it's reading charts, which arguably require as much interpretation as reading.
So, should a young drummer not learn to read music? Nope, and I'll tell you why.

1. As reading is required less, it's also becoming a rarer commodity.
Being able to read music is one way of distinguishing yourself from other players, especially in situations that don't involve much rehearsal. Remember, if you can read, you can cut a lot of your heroes on the first run through of a piece of music. ( Admittedly, the second time might be a different story, but you get my point. )

2. If you need to learn something or remind yourself of something quickly, reading is the way to go.
If you want to have something be a part of your playing forever, by all means learn it by ear and memorize it, but sometimes we want our musical experience to be more ephemeral. Sometimes we're forced to record music we really DON'T want to remember! :) Reading helps with this.

3. Reading is not a difficult skill to learn and keep up.
The analogy has been made many times, but reading music and reading any language are the same thing. if you are literate, you certainly have enough brain power to learn to read music. Get a book and/or teacher and get it together, it can only help you.

I find personally that my reading can atrophy if I'm not doing it much, but I find it very easy to get it back in shape. Read classical snare drum etudes. The rhythms that you're reading are way more challenging than anything you'd see as a drum set player, and they usually have a lot of dynamics.        ( Which you should be sight reading as much as the rhythms. )

This one I particularly like, but any orchestral snare book will work.

                                       So, in conclusion, definitely use your ears etc, but don't be afraid to work on your eyes! :) 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Your Character Is Your Calling Card

So, I'd like to mention a recent incident that proves the power of positive character.

Enter exhibit A, no stranger to this blog or fans of fine musicianship, Jerry Bergonzi.....

                                                                                                   I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with Jerry along with Brian Dickinson and Jim Vivian  for over a decade now. As well as being a  fantastic musician, Mr. Bergonzi has always been a great example of how to be in the world. He isn't impressed by money or fame, he is impeccably honest and respectful of others, and it's always about the music, which he loves. This past  summer Jerry was offered a gig in the Montreal Jazz Festival.  He was given the chance to choose anyone to work with him, and I don't think it would be out of line to suggest the festival probably hoped he would choose some big, well-known players to accompany him to help promote the event. Instead, he insisted that he play with Brian's trio with Jim and I. Why? Well, he mentioned how much work Brian had created for him in Canada over the years, and he thought  it would be fair to give Brian another opportunity. I believe he also realized that with Brian's trio he would get high level accompaniment, with no egos or bs, and that we had played together a lot so there would be a band concept, unlike playing with a bunch of big names he mightn't have worked with previously. This is class folks! And the thing is, this is not an unusual story about Jerry. No one who has worked with him ever has anything bad to say about him, because his ethics are impeccable! THAT is the kind of reputation we should all be striving for!

Here's a short video of Jerry explaining a way of using triad pairs. It's a little advanced for where i am harmonically, but I believe it's important to have some thing to work toward.

So, in conclusion, behave like Jerry Bergonzi and the world will be a much better, more moral, and way hipper place! 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Heroic Drumming

Okay, I think this is the last of these I'm going to post but this is an interview with engineer Bradley Cook on his work on the Foo Fighters "My Hero". I've always loved this tune and Dave Grohl's monster drumming on it, so it was nice to get some insights about it's creation and recording.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Humour in music

Hey all,
Recently great bassist ( and neighbour of mine ) Jason Raso posted this on social media

A musician recently sent me the following message in reference to my videos...
“You’d be better off if you took your music and your image more seriously. Stop joking around.”
Well, he might be right, but I am what I am. Honestly, I don’t take myself that seriously, but make no mistake - I am dead serious about my music! It’s still ok to have some fun with it though.

SERIOUSLY? ( Said ironically! )

I can vouch for everything Jason says here. He is a hardworking, dedicated musician who is always trying to improve. He sets an example that I always find inspiring! He is also, not averse to poking fun at himself. He has some great videos where he poses as the disgraced owner of his record label,  complete with fake moustache, and they're really fun! I think it's also important to note what he said about being himself. I think if one has a bit of a goofy personality ( and I'm now referring even more to myself than Jason ) letting it come out is the most honest thing you can do with your audience. I also believe this combination of seriousness about the music/ not serious about myself that has helped me survive in a tough business for 40 some years now!

I short, be like Jason. Try your best but make sure you have fun too.

I couldn't find any of Mr. Raso's "acting" videos but here's him playing a tune I've always loved, Sam Cooke's "Cupid" on solo bass.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"Hipifying" the rudiments

Hey all.
Many students have mentioned to me Tommy Igoe's " Great Hands For a Lifetime " book so I decided to check it out, having worked through his first "Groove Essentials" book and quite enjoying it.
All in all, it's a very helpful book on rudimental playing, well written and presented. I don't agree with everything he writes, but having played drums for 44 years this coming fall, I rarely agree with anything ANYONE writes! :)

One thing that struck me during my first cursory glances was that he talks about converting the rudiments to drum set ideas, but doesn't really offer any method of doing so. I plan to cover this in greater depth and send as a possible article, but for now I thought I'd offer some general principles that help me make rudiments hipper and more useable on drum set. Okay here goes....

1. Corrupt the symmetry.....
I've mentioned this before, but one of the things that makes the rudiments seem very square is this " 4 on the right, 4 on the left" quality they have, due to trying to make the hands equal. This makes sense from a physical conditioning sort of way, but results in very predictable boxy, phrasing. So, a very easy way to create interest is to take away or add a note to any rudimental idea to make it odd numbers.
Let's take a paradiddle- RLRR LRLL, and take away the last stroke. Now we have a 7 note idea. Now when we play this idea in 8th notes or triplets, it will go over the carline and give us some really cool textures.
Now, how about we add a note- RLRR LRLLL . This create a cool 9 beat idea. Again, it will go over the barline in 4/4 or it WILL fit into a bar of 3/4 as triplets, but that could also be cool as we spread out the hands between two surfaces so it could be used in a jazz waltz or a afro-cuban 9/8 groove.

2. Orchestrate! 
As I just mentioned, our  lowly paradiddle starts to sound more interesting not only with a note missing or added, but also as we put our hands to 2 different drum or cymbals surfaces. Here's just a few ways we can create interesting tonal ideas from RLRR LRLL

a) R on Hi-Hat, L on snare
b) "     "", L on rim click
c) "" , L on small tom
d) "" , L on floor tom
e) "" , L on any combination of above
f) R on floor tom, L any combination of above
g) R on Ride Cymbal, L ""
h) R on any rim, "" ""

Phew! And I just said I was going to mention a few. Anyway, check out how these different combinations sounds and don't be afraid to experiment with any possible sounds. You'll likely find you discover some favourites. Good!

3. Change the home rhythmic grid.
We've already seen that we can change any 8th note idea to triplets to make it more compelling, and the opposite ie true as well. We can also, however, change any idea to an odd grouping, and that really starts to sparkle!
If we again take RLRR LRLL and play it as 2 sets of quintuplets in a bar of 4/4, the quintuplets themselves don't go over the barline,  but the sticking does! This sounds really cool, especially when we again orchestrate the hands. In fact, a favourite exercise of mine with "Stick Control" is to take the first 3 pages and play the stickings as quintuplets, septuplets, and groupings of 9, all in 4/4. That's definitely something you'll never hear a drum corps play! :)

4. Change the attack
Now let's take RLRR LRLL and....

a) Buzz the first L
b) Buzz all Ls
c) Deadstroke the first and 5th notes
d) Deadsroke all Rs

So, here all we're doing is not playing all the notes as regular strokes, and again this creates interest.

5. Add accents, especially in unusual places
Take the paradiddle  and accent other notes the than the first set of each 4 ( the standard way ) and you'll get some very cool textures, especially accenting either the first or second note of a double. This is also great for your hands!

6. Substitute feet for hands in a portion of the lick
Some possible ways to evolve the feel in our paradiddle

So, plenty of linear trouble was can get into with this one.

Obviously, working on rudiments and rudimental ideas ( I make that distinction because although paraddiles are a great lick and a great example to use, I actually don't think of them as rudiments per se.) are a great way of helping us create quality sounds, but to a drum set player, they are just the beginning and a mere means to an end. So, don't be afraid to take these building blocks and do something creative. That's what it's all about.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Please do us like that

Quick post. Here's engineer Shelly Yakus talking  about his work on Tom Petty's "Don't Do Me Like That" with the great and underrated, in my opinion, Stan Lynch on drums.

Man, I love those splat-y 70s snare drums! It's interesting to note that producer Jimmy Iovine tried to replace Stan Lynch on this recording, but couldn't find anyone who fit the band and the recording better. I can't really imagine anyone else playing drums on this! Keep that in mind if ever anyone tries to replace your track, it might be just as likely that the producer doesn't know what he/she is talking about and are trying to justify their existence as the actual drumming isn't making it. :)

Be back soon.......