Friday, July 27, 2012

P.S. to rant and other stuff

Hello music friends!

One more item to include with my Olympic rant the other day. A lot of media as been including the Clash's classic tune London Calling in their coverage of the Olympics. (I tend to hear that in the openings before I switch it off. I'm boycotting any personal support of the games because of how London is treating musicians.) I find this hilarious. Has nobody involved listened to the lyrics? The subject matter of the song is the sort of thing the IOC is terrified of! No matter. Let's dig the clash!

They sound (and look) great!

Also, there's been a bit of a Steely Dan discussion lately through social media. Now I really dig the later stuff they did (Aja, Gaucho, as well as the recordings they've done after they've gotten back together) but in some ways I feel that original drummer Jim Hodder was just as great as the many drummers who played on later recordings. He's on Can't Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy. He sounds beautiful throughout and even sings on the tune Midnight Cruiser.

The whole later Dan thing is a bit of a double edged sword, I feel. Yes, they were able to get the exact musician on each song that would play what they felt was the perfect thing, and they created a lot of incredible music. On the other hand they were a big part of the "studioization" of popular music in the 70s and 80s where band members would be replaced on tracks. (Now I know this is a process a lot older than Steely Dan, but they helped make it more commonplace, to be sure.)

There a sound a band has and I feel when you fill music with guest stars and studio legends, it doesn't feel the same. For another example, check out bands where all the vocals are one person multi-tracked as opposed to a blending of different voices. In Dan's case. Jim Hodder was the one who played all the crappy gigs and did all the tiring travel. (When they were still playing live.) There's a really funny story of them being laughed at by Sha Na Na when they were sharing a bill with them.

So here's a couple of tunes with the late, great, Jim Hodder.

Anybody know why Fagan didn't sing lead on that like the record? Another Dan mystery!

Thanks all!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bill Frisell

Sorry about yesterday but now we have something beautiful as guitar great Bill Frisell reveals elements of his creative process interspersed with footage of his trio with Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron. I was lucky enough to see this band several times when I was living in New York in the early 90s and they never failed to inspire. Enjoy!

".....Or Joey, I don't know. He's out of his mind so we never know what he's going to play!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Olympic level rant (or I hope nobody in Britain sues me for this title)

Hi all,
No doubt you're aware of the upcoming events in London in a few days. If you're a musician or music fan you also might be aware of the 2012 London Olympics attempt to exploit musicians by paying them nothing or next to nothing for their time, artistry, and expertise. If not, the London Telegraph does a good job of explaining the situation.

I've been fairly vocal about this on social media, and one surprising response I've gotten (including from some members of the media)  is that musicians should not play for lousy compensation. Absolutely, I couldn't agree more. The trouble with this response (for me anyway) is that it doesn't address the underlying issues.

The Olympics and the IOC are a big corporate machine with deep pockets. They, like many similar such organizations, have decided that not paying musicians is a good way to cut costs (even though for them even paying the musicians very well would be just a drop in the bucket.) They are therefore saying music is not worth paying for and not valuable. Unfortunately, desperate musicians will play "for the exposure' or the Olympics will simply used canned music.

Hopefully this is an aberration and not a trend. Friends that played in the Vancouver Olympics tell me they were well paid. For now though, I refuse to watch, read about, engage in social media about, etc. ANYTHING to do with this year's Olympics. I have nothing against the athletes, I admire the work they have done to get where they are. However, artists such as David Occhipinti, for example, have worked just as hard and deserve our pride and support as much as any Olympians.

Okay, rant over. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Refining technique

I think it's important to note that no matter how long one has been playing (and it's been almost 4 decades for me) that you can always "tweak" things to improve one's playing.
Case in point, usually when I played hi=hat, it was with a very french (thumb on top) grip. This worked great for playing Swing but didn't let me use much wrist. That was problematic when I was trying to play hi-hat accent patterns in Funk and Brazilian styles. So when I do hi-hat with a lot of accents i switch to a more german (thumb on the side) grip.

For a great example of how this can work for us, here's the great Jeff Porcaro:

Try it and see if it works for you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alan Dawson!

I just found this video while trolling around (when I should have been doing something else!) It's BillEvans with Lee Konitz, Neils Henning Orsted Peterson, and Alan Dawson. To the best of my knowledge, Dawson never recorded with Evans or Konitz, but he sounds amazing here! Compare this with Dawson playing with Sonny and you'll hear how he completely adapts to the gig, yet always sounds like himself. It's unfortunate that Alan Dawson didn't tour more (apparently he got into teaching because travel was hard with his bad back) and is known mainly as an instructor. He's BAD!

Also it's always great to hear (and see) Evans to realize what's possible when you know the music and your instrument that well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reasons to do something and RIP another club

I'm posting another one of my coordination things (melody to Tenor Madness on small tom in left hand while filling in 8th notes on cym. Right hand plays quarters, right foot plays + of 2, 4, and + of four in every bar and hi-hat plays 2:3 son clave. Now this took awhile to get together (and still isn't completely together either) and because my ego controls me sometimes, I posted this for no other reason than to prove i could do it. Now, that's okay in an artificial situations like this, but what I used to do is try to do what I learned during the day on a gig that night, with predictably disastrous results.

Why is this problematic? Well...

a) It was about satisfying my ego, rather than a need in the music.
b) The idea or concept usually wasn't ready to be played naturally and organically so rarely could I actually play it under "battle" conditions. (I.E. the gig!)

Don't feel you have to justify everything you practice, most things will eventually work into your playing, usually when you're not stressing about it!

Oh, here's the lick.......

Finally, we received news today that Ottawa's Cafe Paradiso is closing. Sad news. It was a nice place to play with good sound, good food, and a supportive staff. (More on this at Peter Hum's Blog).
Hopefully someone in the nation's capitol will pick up the torch....

Happy trails!

Monday, July 9, 2012

More melodic coordination!

Hey folks,
I'm the first to admit things are a little slow these days at Trap'd but here's something I've been working on that could potentially keep us all busy for awhile.

Lately I've been working on playing straight 8ths with either hand, and then moving the same hand to another surface for whatever melody I play. I assign the other 3 limbs static things to do. I'm finding this is very helpful for working one hand moving around.

In the first example I'm playing the melody to Monk's Oska T. on the floor tom while filling in the rest of the 8th notes with my right hand. In my left I'm playing 3:2 clave. My left foot is playing half notes and my right is playing the + of 2, 3, and 4.

In the 2nd example I'm playing the melody to C Jam Blues in my left hand while filling in the rest of the 8th notes, my right hand is playing 3:2 cascara, and the feet are the same as the last example.

Obviously I've taken some very simple tunes as my melodic material but I"m going to try it with some more rhythmically challenging material in the coming days. have fun and wear sunscreen (if you're outside!)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Philly Joe Brush Variations

Hey all,
Here's a couple of videos showing how I adapted some patterns from Philly Joe Jones' book, Brush Artistry. I put in the link because it's been out of print for awhile. Anyways, here's the 2 vids. I hope you find it useful.