Monday, February 28, 2022

Gatekeepers and their opposites…...

How many of us have had a similar experience to Homer (from 0:43 - 0:53)? 

 ….In the late 80s, I auditioned for the Jazz program at the Banff School for the Arts. I wasn't very good, was supremely unconfident in my musical abilities and myself in general, and I really didn't know that much about Jazz or how to play it. Nonetheless, I played for Dave Holland in Montreal and he was kind enough to let me attend. I am still thankful for that. The drum prof in the program was a very well known player at the time, with MASSIVE amounts of technique, and I was super intimidated. Despite this, I learned a lot from him, but at the same time, he was very distant from the students. He also never let us forget that he was the voice of authority, and that we really didn't know anything. ( And thinking back on it, he was absolutely correct!) When his time at the school was up (it was a month long program, but most of the faculty were only there for part of the time) he said something to the effect of, "When I got here, you all really sucked, but now you suck a little less, and that's because of me!" 

That was my first experience with a gatekeeper.

I'm not actually putting down the gatekeepers, as I think they have important roles to play. The gatekeepers keep us humble, they help us to gain strength and resilience, and they help us to learn to believe in ourselves.

That said, for a young, mediocre drummer who was scared of his own shadow, it wasn't much fun! I desperately wanted this person to like me, to like my playing, to acknowledge me as one of "the cats". As someone who was the product of a broken marriage and who's father lived in a different city than me, I'm sure there were some "daddy issues" in there as well. So, in other words, I wanted this person who had just met me, didn't like my playing, probably thought I hadn't done any work to learn the drums or the music it was involved in; I wanted him to sooth my bruised, fragile ego, and self-image problems. That was an impossible task, believe me! 

But here's the thing. As soon as I stopped looking at others for approval, I was better able to follow my own path and really get to work. A great saying I heard in therapy circles is, "What you think of me is none of my business"! As long as we care about what gatekeepers think, we will always be in our own way. A lot of the "clubs" these people run that won't have you as a member have nothing to do with music. They will reject you because of the place you come from, your gender, your sexual preferences and identity, even your skin hue.(And please note I'm not accusing anyone in particular of this.)  Even when you're not barred from entry by these things it might be what gigs you play, what grip you use, the amount of flashy technique you do or don't have etc…..

So, by all means, learn everything you can from everyone. Just realize you're not going to be able to hang with all of them, and that's okay. From every report I've heard, Tony Williams was the ultimate gatekeeper.  Mr. Williams was and will continue to be a beacon of everything I love in drums and music, but we were never going to be bowling buddies or anything. :) I would also gently advise people to try and leave one's ego out of interactions with other musicians when you meet them. Case in point, I've heard the great Lewis Nash  live a few times in recent years, and I've told him how much I enjoy his wonderful playing. Since I wasn't taking a lesson, or playing a gig with him, it didn't matter if I told him whether I played drums, kazoo, or the radio! Me shoehorning that into the conversation would just be my ego, and therefore useless, so I didn't mention it.

So, as the waffle people say, Lego your ego!!!

Have fun and be good to yourselves.

Monday, February 21, 2022

More Slashing Flams and Dead Stroke ideas

 ….I really need to come up with catchier titles for some of these posts!

The first video is more ideas based on using my RH to hit 2 surfaces almost simultaneously with sort of a scooping/slashing motion, in 2 very contrasting beats. I also think this camera angle helps you see it better….

Next, is an idea using 2:3 clave LF/Tumbao RF with a two hands on h.h. with some of the LH on snare as dead strokes….

Okay, full disclosure. I'm not sure how many people actually see these, much less work on them , but I also am posting them as sort of a diary and reminder of things I've worked on…. Regardless, love the music and yourselves, ALWAYS! 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Triple Stroke Groove

Inspiration is such a cool thing. If one is open to ideas, and work with them, they lead to more ideas, and at times it seems endless what we can discover. (Note I said at times. Ha!)
Anyway, I was watching a cool IG post Dan Weiss had done about alternating Ruffs and Swiss triplets and then stumbled on to this sticking in triplets, accenting each downbeat….

After playing for a minute I realized I was doing the triple stroke roll. This was an idea I worked on a lot when I first went to university in the Precambrian era, but haven't spent much time on it lately. It's super fun to voice on the instrument in different ways like RH cymbal/LH snare, a hand on each tom, or this, which is RH hi-hat/LH snare. First I'm playing quarters with the bass drum and then I'm playing Jazz (displaced by an 8th triplet) quarter note triplets with both feet, which creates a fun open and closed thing with the hats. :) Have fun.

Also, Happy Valentine's Day. Next year I'll come up with a beat that's more romantic! :) 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Jimmy Cobb brush idea

Certain players create endless rivers of ideas flowing past us every time we hear them. One of those is definitely Jimmy Cobb, so I lifted this little brush idea from him…..

It's nice to know we can still learn from master musicians, even after they have left the physical realm.
Once again, thank you Mr. Cobb.