Monday, October 31, 2011

Little green monsters, just in time for Halloween!

Hey everyone and happy All Hallows Eve to all. Those pagans knew how to party!
Actually this doesn't have a ton to do with the holiday, just the green part.
I have realised in the past while that I badly need to jettison my feelings of professional envy and jealousy. These feelings are making me a more bitter and hardened person and that certainly isn't going to help me be a better musician, or human being for that matter. I have realised I'm spending too much time (read any) wondering why I don't get called for certain gigs, why I haven't toured New Zealand as a leader yet, why I don't have my own talk show etc. Okay with the last two I was being facetious but all those questions are basically useless. I'm going to work on concentrating on the work and celebrating the successes of others without feeling I'm comparing myself to them. I was put on this planet to be the best Ted Warren I can, and I won't get there by being jealous of someone else's life.
I thought I would post this footage of Eric Harland. it's been making the rounds a lot so maybe most of you have seen it. It was significant for me because of the joy and eloquence he always plays with. Whenever I hear him, I want to celebrate his absolute mastery of the instrument and music by becoming as masterful ( in my own way) myself.

Thanks so much. Now smell my feet AND give me something good to eat!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brian Dickinson Trio

Hey folks, happy Devil's Night!
I'm just doing a quick post of a blues from a gig I did last night with Brian Dickinson and Jim Vivian. (Although you can't see them. My daughter was the videographer, do you think she's biased? :) )
The gig made me think about how I get to work with so many inspiring musicians and how they've easily been as much an influence on me as any drummers I've checked out. Also it made me think how in these times of decreased work, how I need to work on artificially creating the looseness that comes with constant playing. More on that in the days to come. Meanwhile, enjoy "Blues in the Closet". Later.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Brushes

Here's a couple of more brush patterns, suitable mainly for ballads so let's all get romantic!

Wow, some of these diagrams are starting to get a "science class in the 50s" sort of vibe.

Here's video of both of the patterns:

...And here's the crossover pattern with hi-hat on 2 & 4 while I play the melody to Wayne Shorter's "12 More Bars to Go" on the bass drum.'s the same idea with four on the bass drum and the melody on the hi-hat.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Vertical Squirrels & Jane Bunnett

Hey all,
I just found this video. This same line up will be at Van Gogh's Ear in Guelph on December 8th. I've really enjoyed playing with the Squirrels since I joined them a couple of years ago. It's great fun to play in a wide open setting like this where every gig is completely different.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A little Jam

I got into "preparing" the cymbals after seeing a recent Eric Harland performance (I have a tambourine on top of the left hand cymbal and a splash mounted directly on top of the right) and thought I'd play a little solo piece inspired by the slightly different sounds around me.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The left foot, the final frontier!

Hey everyone in this musical neighbourhood we call the internet!
Here's a couple of hi-hat things. They both use a 2 quarter note then one dotted quarter note pattern (seven 8th notes long) while in both examples the right hand plays 8th, the left hand plays quarters, and in the first example the bass drum plays the samba/bossa pattern and in the second example the bass drum plays more of a salsa pattern. I find the coordination where the feet are playing independently of each other some of the most challenging stuff.

Ex. 1

Oh also in example 1 the hi-hat is splashing, in example 2 the hi-hat is played closed.

Ex. 2


Monday, October 17, 2011

3 brush patterns

Hey all, happy Monday.
Here's 3 more brush patterns. I'm still working on the book and when it's finished, all you lovely people will be the first to know.

Here are the 3 diagrams:

...and here's the video of said patterns.

Happy trails!!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stan Levey

Hey everybody,
Here's some great footage of the highly underrated Bebop drummer, Stan Levey.
I find Mr. Levey especially helpful in terms of playing fast tempos because his comping always hits interesting parts of the bar yet isn't as "blatantly virtuosic" as say, Max Roach or Tony Williams. Some great recordings he's on are Victor Feldman's "The Arrival of Victor Feldman", Dizzy Gillespie's "For Musicians Only", and his own "This Time the Drum's on Me". (Although I just found it on iTunes and it was called "& Stan Levey" and was under Dexter Gordon's name.)

It's interesting, a lot of the musicians categorized as "West Coast" said that it was more of a marketing ploy than an actual style. Certainly if a kind of jazz could be labeled "cool" the music Lennie Tristano and his disciples ( all New Yorkers) were making is probably closer to that. Not that any of that matters. It's all great music.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shhh part 2

Here's also some exercises on dynamics, some of which were inspired by the late Lou Williamson.


Over the course of my teaching career, I have noticed that dynamic control is an issue for most drummers. In this article I’m going to outline some basic ways of working on this important aspect of drumming. For all these exercises, please use a metrenome or drum machine, as keeping steady time throughout drastic dynamic changes is an extremely important component.

1. FADE IN Pick a beat and tempo that you are reasonably comfortable with and you can play without having to think about it. Preferably a beat or pattern that uses all four limbs. If this isn’t possible, start with what you can handle and work up to it. Play time over a predtermined phraes length, e.g. sixteen bars, and fade the sound in gradually. Start at your lowest dynamic level and evenly play up to your highest dynamic level. Make sure that the dynamic relationship btween all four limbs does not change over the course of the crescendo. If the bass drum is the loudest part of the kit when you begin, it should dominate at the end as well. As always, keep the time steady throughout.

2 FADE OUT Just the same as exercise 1, but in the opposite direction dynamically. Experiment with different types of feels, tempos and phrase lengths.


4. PRACTICING READING ONLY DYNAMICS Find any kind of music that has dynamic markings. It doesn’t have to be drum music. It could be a classical piano score, choral music etc. Now play a beat you’re comfortable with, and concentrate on playing the dynamics correctly, keeping the time steady, and keeping your place in the phrase. The actual content of the notation (e.g. the actual pitches and rhythms) doesn’t concern us in this exercise. We are working on playing dynamics while reading. I find this exercise also helps with grades of dynamics. Most of us can play very loud or soft. Its all the range in between that gets tricky. This example also helps us work on not getting “stuck” dynamically. If our forte dynamic is already as loud as we can play, we will have difficulty if the music calls for fortissimo later on. We need to develop a good sense of relative dynamics. On the following page you’ll find a sample piece to work with.


Here's also a "fake piece of music to practice # 4 to. Sorry about the weirdness in size, but if you print it, it should be normal.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Hey all,
The lovely and talented Jon McCaslin recently requested that I talk about quiet playing and since I love not having to think of subjects for the blog, here goes!

A couple of things first though....
At around 3:23 in the video the talking may get pretty quiet (oh, the irony!) so please adjust your volume. Also, I mention earplugs very briefly. It's my belief we should all do a little of our low volume practicing sans earplugs. It goes back to hearing the sounds we're making and developing our touch. Absolutely it's important to protect your ears but I've dealt with drummers who never heard their instrument without earplugs! Not great for the sensitivity......

...and here's me attempting to apply some of these concepts to Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow".
Okay, I got a little louder in sections but I think the general idea is there.

Thanks so much! See you soon! I need to stop using exclamation marks!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cold for teacher?

Hey everyone,
Today I thought I'd reflect on my days as a student, which actually includes up to the present time as I'm finishing off my B Mus. but even more importantly I am always trying to learn everything I can about music, drums, and especially being a better human being. If I look back on my early university days (sometime during the precambrian era, I assure you) I'm struck by the fact that I wasn't a very good student. Oh yes, I was keen and hardworking in a certain way, but there are many things I understand now that make me a much better learner. Let me outline them.

1. I'm much more open-minded
Back in the day, I had very specific ideas about what good teaching constituted. I tended to listen to and do what someone told me to do if I agreed with them (my study with Andre White would be a good example of this) but if I didn't like someone's method, playing. or even their personality I tended to dismiss them out of hand. I suspect in retrospect I didn't even understand some of the concepts I was dismissing, and certainly didn't give them much of a chance. It's interesting, in some types of Eastern based "guru" type situations, the student isn't allowed to question anything his/her teacher tells them. This is probably a bit extreme but it does allow time for the student to assimilate and understand what the teacher is getting at.

2. I value experience as a teacher
I think that when I was younger I viewed lessons as almost a commodity that one could buy, like soap.(This is an idea that has gained in popularity since then, I fear.) As I got older I found so many different ways to learn. This is especially true of music, which like life itself, is very complex and can't always be boiled down to neat and tidy exercises. In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how "on the job" experience, even when it's been quite painful, has been invaluable to me.

So I go forth and am trying to learn every day. I can only hope nowadays I have the bravery, maturity, patience, and understanding to take in information and growth from whatever source it comes from. I encourage all students of music (and life, which pretty well covers everybody) to strive to do the same.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Brush circle comping

Hey everyone, happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there. I want to briefly touch on using circles of various sizes and note lengths in the left hand while keeping time with the right in 4/4 and 3/4 while using brushes. This is an idea used very successfully by great Canadian drummer Marty Morell, amongst others. The principles behind it are pretty simple. The longer the rhythmic duration you're trying to achieve, the bigger the circle. I've filmed a couple of examples to demonstrate this. First in 3/4 I've played dotted half notes, dotted quarter notes, and quartuplets in the circles with my left hand. Like so:

Another length of circle that I neglected to do in this is example would be half notes, which would give us something that would resolve every two measures. if you do that one make sure you're playing a one measure pattern in the right hand to still give it the feeling of 3/4.

Next up are some examples in 4/4. I start with a dotted half note and then go to a dotted quarter note, (all these examples will go across the bar line) then switch to a on again/off again figure that repeats every five 8th notes, then to a seven 8th note pattern of the same type.

I hope these examples give you some further repertoire to use when playing brushes.

P.S. For extra fun(?) try playing the melody to a tune in the right hand while playing some of these circle lengths in the left.

Happy turkey-day!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Don't phone it in!

Hey all,
I just briefly wanted to talk about something that occurred to me on a gig last night. I had a great time playing with Jules Estrin's band. I was subbing for an ailing Joel Haynes so I hadn't played the music or played with this particular combination of people before. I had a great time and really enjoyed the arrangements and all the individual musician's contributions to it. This really didn't surprise me but I started thinking about what the possible thread that ran through all the music we played and that runs through all of the music I feel passionate about. I realized it was that spirit of going for it, of giving it everything you have. If there's anything I would be egotistical enough to think I will be remembered for after I'm no longer around, I hope it would be that I always gave it my all, and never "phoned it in". There are always some reasons to make excuses, hold back, and not be fully engaged with the music. Some of them might be:
1) I'm playing some corporate event and no one (including the band sometimes) is listening.
2) My gear is crumby. If I had the latest (insert brand name here) I'd really be playing something. Or maybe....
3) The money on this gig is crap.

Let's look at these briefly...
1) You're probably make some coin. You're not digging a ditch, you're playing you're instrument! You're performing a function so don't sweat it if the "audience' isn't hanging on your every note. In fact, there's a lot of freedom in that. Also, if the band isn't listening, listen to them even harder! You'd be amazed at how this can affect the people you're playing with in a positive way.

2) Don't give me that! Make whatever you're playing sound beautiful. Remember, as Art Blakey once said, "You are the instrument!".

3) If you play like a bored lame-o who doesn't care about music, will that make the money improve?

In short, we're lucky to be doing something we love. We have a limited amount of time on the planet, so don't waste it thinking about what isn't happening. let's make the most of whatever is happening!

And now, a man who never phones it in , the great Billy hart!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Where's 1?

I was just reminded of the many tunes I heard a as a young person that I originally had turned around. That is, I thought they started on beat 1 when they actually began in another part of the bar. A couple of examples would be "I Want to Hold Your hand" (+ of 3), "Walkin" (beat 4), or "Car Wash' (beat 2). It can be quite challenging to "unlearn" when you hear something in the wrong spot. Figuring out where a tune starts in the phrase is part of the detective work we do when learning a tune so use logic (placement of hi-hat etc.) to suss it out correctly the first time.
This whole concept got me thinking about reversing the bass drum and snare drum roles in rock and funk beats. This also occurs in Reggae. This is a great way to freshen up garden variety beats and work on coordination as well as hearing your place in the bar despite "sonic information" to the contrary.

Here's me playing around with this a bit. Hint, it starts on the + of 4.

If I am to be slightly critical of the above example, the time is slightly further "on top" than I would prefer it to be for this type of groove. That said, although I will continue to work on my behind the beat and laid back playing, I do naturally hear the time ahead. That's as much a part of me as my height and eye colour, and like those other two factors, I will accept it as I continue to work with it.

Here's the tune that inspired me.
It actually starts on the + of 3.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

If you dig it, don't keep it a secret!

Hey all,
First I'd like to thank Jon McCaslin for his kind words about the Broadview "Two of Clubs" disc. I really appreciate it. You can read it here if you wish.
This got me thinking about a policy I have long held privately but have never come out and made public. I feel that if I have really enjoyed the work that an artist has done (especially a peer) I try and let them and the public know. A life in music isn't easy and can feel a little thankless sometimes so I think it's important we all encourage each other. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of stuff I don't like either but I keep that to myself!
Anyway, along that theme of appreciation, here's great young drummer Ethan Ardelli playing a great quick solo on "Invitation' with Nancy Walker's group. Go and see him when you get a chance, he sounds great!