Saturday, May 29, 2021

David⚡Bowie - The Last Five Years, BBC documentary (2017)

I just saw this great documentary from the BBC about David Bowie's final years. I think his late work is some of his best, and it was interesting to hear about his Broadway show, Lazarus, which I was only peripherally aware of.
It was also strangely personal to see someone in the doc whom I had worked with, and frankly didn't like my playing that much. This has been coming up for me lately. Situations where teachers and or fellow musicians don't like what I'm doing. The doc is great no matter how one looks at it, but here's a few things that I learned from Mr. Bowie and was reminded of…

-Be brave
-Take chances
-Trust your instincts
-The fact that not everyone loves what you do is a good thing
-Challenge yourself, and your audience

Thank you Mr. Bowie. Your artistic approach to life is a great example to us all……..

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Charles Mingus Sextet, at the Konserthuset Stockholm, Sweden, April 13...

 Thanks to my fellow Avi Granite 6 bandmate Neal Davis for hipping me to this killer footage of Mingus' band in the 60s!               

Got to listen to WAY more Dannie Richmond! :) 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Legends of Jazz Drumming Part 1 & 2

I am frequently amazed by the discographical and historical knowledge of many of my peers. It seems fairly ridiculous, but i have never seen either part of this documentary all the way through. I find part 1 especially illuminating because of how much pre-bebop drumming I feel I have yet to learn. Anyway, check these out and I have made a few notes that you can peruse after…..

Okay, here are my impressions. You may have completely different ones, and that's not a problem. You may also see/hear things differently after repeated viewings, which I certainly recommend.

- Louis Bellson is a great host, and his, Roy Haynes', and Jack DeJohnette's insights are very illuminating

-Lot of early hi-hat players play 4 on the hi-hat w/foot (early coordination).

-Also lots of four on snare drum, four on everything!

-Papa Jo seems to be the first major drummer to start developing independent coordination.

-Also playing open handed, almost 100 years ago!

-Papa Jo is a BIG part of the large ensembles moving from that sort of stomping style to the time being much more nuanced and sensuous.

-Ray Baduc really can get around the drums at a relatively low dynamic level.

-Sonny Payne is never anything short of spectacular.

-I think one of the keys to Shelly Manne’s fat snare sound with brushes is that he seems to be using all the bristles, yet he has a very different sound than Elvin, who tends to do the same thing. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

NEW! Analog Geek Podcast

 Hey all,

I've have just started a podcast, you can find it here.


RIP Roger Hawkins.

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Drummer

As I have said recently, the net is such a strange place. I started one evening trying to figure out who the drummer was with Woody Herman when I saw the band play in Regina in the early 80s. I didn't find out for sure, but I came across the name Dave Ratajczak on a Thundering Herd record released around the same time. This research into Mr. Ratajczak's work lead me to a short film he starred in, entitled The Drummer . ( Sorry, I can't seem to embed it, but just click on the link. ) Dave Ratajczak, as well as being a great drummer, has real presence on the screen. So many elements of the movie ring true, especially the weird social experience of playing a wedding where you haven't met any of the band before and are assumed to be the leader because you got to the gig first and that you and the rest of the group live together like the Beatles in the HELP movie! Also worth noting is the sexism directed towards the female vocalist as well as the economic realities of trying to survive as a musician in a big urban centre. Most films about musicians I find incredibly phoney and inaccurate, but  Bill Block (director) did an amazing job!  I would encourage all musicians to see it.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Terry Chambers - Episode 35 - The ProgCast with Gregg Bendian

Yay! Gregg Bendian has just interviewed XTC's original drummer, Terry Chambers. Fantastic! 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The revenge of Mr. Taste!

Here's some GREAT footage of Ed Thigpen playing with an all-star pickup band for a TV series in 1958.
As I've mentioned before, the Oscar Peterson trio stuff with Mr. Thigpen, as great as it is, really doesn't show a lot of what he can do. The trio really doesn't represent what a fiery, swinging presence Ed Thigpen  was. This video along with the live big band recording with Oliver Nelson are a great place to check out this more aggressive side of "Mr. Taste". :) 

Monday, May 10, 2021



Blast Beats                                                              

Instagram/Tik Tok Fame                                         

Massive hi-hats                                                       


Super obscure world music beats                           


Drum Festivals                                                       

The latest hip drummer                                         


Playing on vamps                                                  

Odd time signatures                                              

A particular grip                                                     

Playing like a drum machine                                  


Being clever                                                            

Gospel chops                                                         

Latest IG Hero/Heroine 



 Sunny Murray/Allison Miller


Communicating clearly

 Classical snare studies

Playing dynamically

A loose, comfortable grip

 2 feel on the high-hat

 Playing on form of a tune

 Slow Bossas

Open solos that tell a story

 Fred Below

Long running music venues

Stick Control/Accents & Rebounds

 Knowing melodies/forms of tunes

 Playing gear you think sounds best

 Presence and Respect from musical peers

 Papa Jo Jones

Keep in mind, these are just my opinions. Go develop your own.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Legato Brush Exercise

This is a pretty simple exercise that I believe originates with Jeff Hamilton. Check it out.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The 3 Bloggers Part 3 : technique

 Hi and welcome to part 3 of the series where Four on The Floor, Cruise Ship drummer and I all write about a given subject. This time we're talking about technique, specifically on how it relates to the drums.

What is technique? Well, one definition of technique I found states that it's a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.

I bring up this definition because often technique is equated with "velocity". I suppose speed is one tiny aspect of technique, but there's so much more to it than that. I'm now going to take us through all the things that, for me, define technique.

1. Time feel

I have never had a " you got it, or you don't" philosophy. To play good time at various tempos and styles, is challenging, and must be practiced! Sure, everyone has tempos and feels they gravitate towards, but to truly fill in the gaps, we have to work on this tempos that are challenging to us. Case in point, I am naturally a very ahead of the beat player, so to learn to lay back better, I had to practice playing behind the metronome, and play along with great back of the beat drumming, and to learn to place the feel where the drummer on the recording was. Like most aspects of music, time feel is something we work towards, and is a HUGELY important technique. I'm also including playing rubato in this! That's another technique that's frequently ignored.

2.  Dynamics

This is ignored a ton by people. Playing the same things at different volume levels while maintaining time and groove is challenging, to say the least. Proud of your blisteringly fast single stroke roll? Let's hear it at ppp. If you can't do it, your technique is not what you thought it is.

3. Sound

Closely related to dynamics. Simply put, what do people hear when we play, and is it what we intended them to hear.  Where are we striking the instruments? If I'm hitting rims constantly, it may be I have some sort of "concept", but it's more likely I have to refine my technique. This is part of the reason I don't put much stock in "pad practice", because it doesn't deal with sound at all, unless you're going to play a practice pad on the gig!

4. Creativity

Another thing that gets better the more we pay attention to it. If we constantly try and find different avenues, sounds, and textures it tends to perpetuate itself! Don't be satisfied with doing the same things?having the same set up/checking out the same music all the time. That's bad technique, as far as I'm concerned! 

I think because velocity can be easily measured ( they don't give out those pseudo wrestling belts for being able to play a really slow, sensuous Bossa!) it's often focused on at the expense of all the above considerations.

5. General Concept of the drums

There are a lot of different ways to approach playing this instrument. Over the course of my career, I realized I wanted to be working with the drums. I view my instrument as someone I am singing or dancing with. To be honest, I hear a lot of ham-fisted and stiff drumming out there. I think when one's first goal is to be impressive and fast, the drummer becomes more like someone colonizing and controlling the drums rather than someone engaged in a dialogue. The latter is what inspires me. Just a few of the drummers doing this ( and I'm bringing this group up because I've heard these players most recently ) would be people like Joe LaBarbara, Allison Miller, and a delightful young drummer I was just hipped to, J.D. Beck.

As people who read this blog know, I rarely "out" anyone, even when I don't like what they're doing. I will, however make an exception for the renowned ( for her racism rather than her drumming) individual Hillary Jones, who exemplifies the "colonial" style drumming of which I speak. This shows up as much in her drumming as her words.

I guess what I'm getting at the end here is, how are each of us going to approach technique, and I think deciding what's most important whether it be fast single strokes, grooving like Levon Helm, or Instagram-ready stick twirling is something we all have to figure out.

Okay, now go work on your technique.