Friday, June 28, 2019

New Brush idea

Here's a brush thing utilizing a sticking that I've been obsessed with lately ( RLRL LRLR ) . All Ls are sweeps on the drum, all Rs are buzzes off the rim.

The video also is notable for an appearance by BartholeMEW MURRay Warren. Rare because he doesn't dig the drums very much.

P.S. Turns out I'll be teaching at NMC music camp at the end of the summer. I always enjoy doing Jazz camps and am looking forward to working with the talented young people that attend. :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Straight vs. Swung

Here's a couple of examples of playing straight and swung rhythms concurrently. In the first one. I'm playing Afro 12/8 in the right hand, straight 8ths in the left, generally playing a one handed paradiddle between the cross stick and small tom, bass drum on 2 & 4, and the hi-hat starting out in straight 8ths notes, but moving to quarter notes as I originally intended! ( Nobody could ever accuse me of over rehearsing these examples! )

In the second example. I'm playing straight 8ths in the right hand and the second 2 notes of an 8th note triplet in the left, bossa bd part and on again/off again 7 beat pattern in the left foot.

So, I'm hoping the obvious question now is, so??? That's certainly valid. Any "regular" situation utilizing bossa or 12/8 rhythms would not be well suited to playing this stuff. ( Unless you want to get fired! )
These rhythms, by their very nature, are not smooth or neat and tidy, but I believe there are  instances where we want to play rhythms that are jagged, ...angry even. That everything doesn't always line up is one thing that makes beats like these cool. It also gives a much more loose "ensemble" feel because it sounds like more than one person playing. These will also help you feel both straight and swing rhythms at the same time. Check it out if you like. It's a free country ( at least for now.....)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

What Better way to celebrate Dad's day than with the God FATHER of Soul singing " Papa's Got a Brand New Bag? But, do yourself a favour and watch it to the end when James Brown plays some DRUMS! Fantastic, and tellingly, he plays with the groove much more than he ever let Stubblefield of Sparks get away with! So cool! I had no idea he was such a powerful drummer. And was he a lefty?                  

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What's in the attic?

Today I'm bringing you an idea that came to me while practicing, or more accurately I should say came back to me. I endeavour to review things I've worked on, use ideas I've created etc., but I've been playing and practicing for almost 44 years now, so it's impossible to recall everything all at once!
Anyway, I stumbled on to this 7 beat idea between hi-hat, bass drum, and snare drum. It's just RLRLRLF ( The F stands for feet as in its first incarnation, the right and left foot are playing together. ) I liked it. I thought sounded pretty slick. Then I realized that particular combination I had been playing for decades ( I can vividly remember playing it with Mike Murley's band) except I had never voiced between hats, snare, and bass drum. I more used it open handed with RH on toms and LF on hi-hat. Anyway, here's a quick video on the original idea. Note that even though I start between hat and snare, it's not until I play the idea with the hands alternating on the hats that I get to the current lick I stumbled on.

I generally play it as an over the barline thing in 4, with the bd on all quarter notes or a samba bass drum part, although you could keep it in 7 as well. Also started moving the RH around at the end.

The second video is the same idea in triplets in 4, with either quarter notes or a shuffle on the bass drum. By the time I get over to the ride the pattern has essentially fallen apart but I kept it in because I thought it was funny! ( Don't try this at home folks! )

Believe it or not, my whole point to this post wasn't to show you these ideas, although I like them and they might prove useful to some of you. No, what I'm getting at is what I experienced with this "old" lick that I thought I had forgotten. I really believe that everything we work on in music is stored SOMEWHERE in our mind. ( Barring traumatic head injury, etc. ) I like to think of our brain as some sort of dusty attic full  of treasures we may have temporarily forgotten. But sometimes on the way to find a sweater from high school, we might find a cool vintage fan that we thought we had gotten rid of! Our mind is like that too. So, sometimes when you're practicing, don't be afraid to let your mind wander a bit, and you might rediscover something!
Have fun! Love yourself and others!

Friday, June 7, 2019

RIP John Sumner and "That Thing"

Sad news out of Toronto this week. Veteran Jazz drummer John Sumner has passed. John was one of the many great older generation of drummers I checked out when I got to T.O. Here he is playing in Mark Eisenman's band.

This rhythm section, Eisenman-piano, Steve Wallace- bass, and John Sumner on drums played together A LOT. That trio had a definite "thing" like no one else. That's what happens in this music when you log so many hours together with simpatico spirits. I was reminded upon Mr. Sumner's passing that we don't have that thing anymore ( at least in the live sense ) and my sadness about this was mitigated by the fact that I heard it in the first place. RIP John Sumner, and thank you for the music.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gary Burton interview

I love vibraphone! It's an instrument that often doesn't get the respect it deserves. ( I had a friend who called it "the rolling doorbell" ! ) Even though I don't play it myself, it does seem to be that middle ground between two instruments I do play, piano and drums, and many drummers do double on vibes.
I recently got to record with great ( and now local ) vibist Dan McCarthy, and through serendipity, found this great interview with vibraphone pioneer Gary Burton in which he looks back on his career.
Check it out!

An important takeaway for me is that he talks about not being obsessed with playing his own music in his band, but rather finding the best tunes, no matter who wrote them. Even though this makes recordings less lucrative ( your own tunes mean you get the mechanical royalties' proceeds.) and more expensive ( you have to pay to put standards etc. on a recording ), this is something I plan to consider. I already have gotten a lot looser on how many originals I feel I have to play on gigs, and I think my earlier insistence on my own tunes was ego, more than anything. Oh well, another way I'm a work in progress. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

House Drums and Being a Good Guest

It's been a while, so it's probably time for a rant.
I recently did a workshop at the venue Silence in Guelph. They have a house kit. A really nice Gretsch Catalina kit ( a very good value for the money. I've tried two sets and they both have very gutsy bass drums! ) Unfortunately, it's only about half useable because a lot of the drummers that have played it and used it moronically!
So, let's discuss good house kit etiquette. Because, you know what? If you treat a house kit with care and respect, if it's a decent set of drums at all, it will last FOR YEARS and you won't have to drag your drums in. Also, do you think the club is going to invest in more drums if you destroy them? Not likely.
So let's get started, and I apologize to all my "good guest" friends.

1. Do not over tighten stands
If the stands start new, they just have to tightened enough to stay in place. House cymbal/snare stands by their very nature are going to get moved up and down a lot. You can extend their life by quite a bit by not tightening the crap out of them. Plus it's a major drag to adjust them if you play at a club after some Edward Wrenchands......

2. Do not lose cymbal felts, hi-hat clutches, and sleeves/ wing nuts.
Do us all a favour. Put up and take down each cymbal separately, being careful to put the felts, sleeves and wing nuts back properly BEFORE you go on to the next stand. Cymbals without sleeves get cracked easily, so don't be selfish and in a hurry and mess it up for the next drummer. If you bring your own hi-hat clutch, put the house clutch somewhere safe and put it back afterward, and if you're using the house clutch, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY PUT IT BACK ON THE STAND AFTER YOU'RE DONE WITH IT!!!!!!!

3. Leave the drum heads as they were
If you must put duct tape, duck ponds, paper towels, paper moons, or blue gummy bears all over the drums, please take them off afterward. Some of us are into that "non-cardboard box" sound! Same goes for putting things in the bass drum, and for Pete's sake, don't cut a port hole into a solid bass drum head! Believe it or not, not everybody is into that!

In closing, if you treat house drums with respect, you demonstrate you respect the music and your fellow drummers. If you don't, well, you are not welcome in my house (drums! )