Thursday, July 2, 2020

What? More ads?

Yup. Quick commercial.
Ted Quinlan's quartet, one of the most enjoyable musician aggregations I've ever been fortunate to be a part of, is playing live to air tomorrow ( Friday July 3rd ) on JazzFM 91.1. You can find it online, on your radio, or JazzFM's Facebook page. 5-6PM EST.
                                                                          And here's a sample of some of the music we'll be playing…..

Check it out if you're available. :) 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

If God was a Canadian, he'd be sorry!

The title is in reference to the apologetic nature of Canadians! Happy Canada Day. I am proud to be Canadian and am very grateful to be living here. I don't say that in any smug way either, because I believe that we have many of the same issues as our friends to the south, we are just fortunate to have better leadership and some of our problems are smaller. This is mainly because we have a smaller population. I sincerely hope things improve in the US, and their potential healing can be an example for us all.

Also, please check out Four On The Floor today for a special Canada Day post featuring  some of the best of this country's Jazz Drumming talent. I was very pleased to be involved, and I think it turned out great! Thanks Jon!

Here's one of the "outtakes" from my contribution to that video. Here I am playing my version of our national anthem….

And here's the Boss Brass playing "O Canada' some years ago. Maybe doing an arrangement of this song was Rob McConnell's way of making sure we got a standing ovation! :) Seriously though, Rob was a very proud Canadian.

One of my great memories of playing that chart is playing it on Canada Day.  Everyone stood up, I locked eyes with great bassist Neil Swainson in the audience from way across the tent we were in ( because he's so tall) and I tried desperately to get him to sing and him finding this incredibly funny.

Have a great and safe day everyone. Wherever you are!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

You play what you think……..

In the course of discussions around my post about Hilary Jones' racist rant,  I started thinking about reasons i didn't like her playing in the first place. BTW, I would never normally mention a player I didn't like by name, but I make exceptions for hate-spewers! Anyway, while doing research for this, which wasn't easy because many websites have taken her videos down. Thank you  drummerworld!  Anyway, while watching her play a sort of quasi-African groove  (oh, the irony upon irony) I found it to be not only stiff feeling, but also cold and distant sounding. I surmise this came from her distance from the actual musicial materials she was dealing with, as well as her prejudice towards many of it's innovators and practitioners. I'm not even sure if she notices this herself, but I heard it loud and clear!

I think what has been going on for me, is I think you can be a capable, maybe even good musician if you have hate in your heart, but I don't think it's possible to be a great one.

I mean, listen to Elvin Jones' performance here with John Coltrane on "Song of the Underground Railroad". Talk about joy and love emanating from the drums!

Let's conclude with wise words from a Baby Dodds interview from the '50s

  Now I know that sounds very funny to a drummer to hear me say spirit, but drummin’ is spirit!  You gotta have that in your body, in your soul.  You gotta have it even in your drumming that go along, you gotta have that spirit.  And it can’t be an evil spirit—it’s got to be a good spirit.  Now I know it puts you way back to thinkin’, why?  Because music is no good if you’re evil.  That’s no good.  If you are evil, you going to drum evil.  And when you drum evil, you goin’ to put evil in somebody else’s mind.  Now, first thing you know somebody put the evil in somebody else’s mind, well, what kind of band have you got?  Nothin’ but a evil spirit band.  That’s what I mean by spirit.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Stewart Copeland: Setting Yoursel Up For Success

Be prepared, I have a bunch of these short posts coming out soon that feature footage of someone offering the wisdom of their experience.. Here's the first of a few of them.  In it Stewart Copeland is giving some very solid advice on being a complete musician.

I couldn't agree with him more. As far as his opinions on Jazz are concerned, that's another story! :)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Count Basie '62

Thanks to great saxophonist Steve Kaldestad for hipping me to this. The Count Basie band killing it!

I made a few notes, especially since I don't know Basie or Sonny Payne's work nearly as well as I should….

Totally swinging at all times.
No matter what happens, everything Mr. Payne plays feels so amazing!
HUGE dynamic range
Payne gets so much drama out of the drums!
Four on the Hi-Hat all the way through ballad version of “Stella By Starlight” ( and all the other ballads) 
Just like Donald Bailey. he was doing this way before Tony Williams made it a "thing".
Hi-hat cymbals VERY open for big dynamic range w/foot
He really controls that band with his left foot!
Often playing same things in both bands or 4 on the snare during swing
This results in a lot of clarity. I often feel I'm comping too much in a big band setting.
Playing articulations w/horns always at the perfect volume
He really is a master at playing ensemble hits with the horns.
 Showy but never at the expense of the music
If you heard this performance on a record, it would be just as fantastic. The visuals just add to it!
Switches cymbals for different soloists
It's interesting how he manages to do everything he needs to do, yet retains a small group feel and looseness, another thing i have struggled with in big band playing.
He has all the music memorized
This is huge! He's listening rather than reading!
Lots of closed hi-hat for quiet sections
I think this is something players avoid nowadays because they feel it isn't "hip! IT IS HIP!

Okay, everyone listen to tons of Basie. Only good can come from it! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Rex Story Sessions # 16

Short post today. I did a short interview and solo as part of a series called " Rex Story Sessions". For those of you viewing this from far away, The Rex Hotel is Toronto's main venue for Jazz performance. It's challenging to accurately convey how important The Rex is to musicians and the music scene in general. I have been very fortunate to perform there hundreds, if not thousands of times over the years and I have never enjoyed a more respectful and encouraging relationship with a club as I have with Tom Tytel, Bob and Avi Ross, and all the great Rex staff. We are lucky to have them. Enjoy.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Bonham quantized and the beauty of the human element

Hey all,
The great Paul DeLong hipped me to this recently. It's a great video on taking John Bonham's tracks and making them "perfect". Very enlightening! :)