Tuesday, December 25, 2012

VOQOTD: Dave Liebman on rhythm

Eighth notes are the main denomination of jazz time, much like the penny is to the American dollar. Although one may not play only eighth notes, they still serve as the underpinning of jazz time, similar to what the clave beat is in Afro Cuban music, meaning if not necessarily stated it is implied. A note here on terminology: what are called eighth notes in jazz may also be conceptualized as triplets with a space between the first and third part of the three part division, or it can be seen as a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth note. For the purposes here the distinctions are not important. In short, when a jazz musician sees eighth notes written on a page, (s)he immediately plays the rhythm either like a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth or the above described triplet.

Read more by Liebman here.

Read what I've written about swing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More humor

This ear worm has seriously been plaguing me all day, and I see no reason why this should just be my problem:


Speaking of the record: being from the Pacific Northwest, I've never felt we projected any kind of cultural identity to the rest of the world. Even within the region all we ever had to latch onto were Prefontaine, Henry Weinhard's beer, Nirvana, and Drugstore Cowboy. Usually when I'd go overseas if people knew where Oregon was, all they would know about it is that “it's rainy.”

So I was kind of happy to actually be able to live up to a stereotype when we were performing in Europe in November. A friend of one of our Brussels musicians, who was familiar with Portlandia, heard where I was from, and was getting a kick out of quoting this to me all evening:

It took me a little while to remember my own merch:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

RLB sticking applied

This is that previous right/left/bass sticking applied to Exercise 9 from Ted Reeds's Syncopation (p. 45 in the old edition). The entire piece follows that sticking, except for a couple of spots. I've written in the stickings where the reading is more difficult, and at the couple of spots where we deviate from the pattern.

Feel free to learn this one line, or shorter phrase, at a time. The hand parts can be played on any drums; maybe start with the right on the high tom and the left on the snare.

Get the pdf

Friday, December 21, 2012

LPLB makes a best of 2012 list

Dan McClenaghan at All About Jazz has included my record Little Played Little Bird on his Best Releases of 2012 list. He had this to say:

“Drummer Todd Bishop is an underground treasure. He doesn't boast the highest of profiles, but he has put out two consecutive great CDs for the Origin Records label: 2009's 69 Annee Erotique and now, this nod to alto saxophonist/free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman.”

You can get either/both CDs via le sidbar, either in CD or download form... have I mentioned that purchasing my records is a great way to support the blog?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

RLB sticking warmups

Following up the “sticking experiment” from a few days ago, I've written some warmups for a more involved piece which will be coming in a few days. Here we're applying the very useful right/left/bass sticking across a variety of rhythms:

The idea is for these to develop into solo ideas for a jazz context, so swing the 8th notes. Don't swing beats containing both 8ths and 16ths, or 16th note triplets; play them straight, but legato. You can move the hand parts to any drums you want, but start with the right hand on the high tom and the left hand on the snare drum. You could also play the hihat with your foot in the place of the bass drum.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Books in hand

Oh, hey, I just received my own copies of my new book, 100 Grooves. Nine days from order to receipt of the books, with the cheapest shipping. As usual Lulu.com's print job is impeccable, and thanks to the magic of CMYK (which always makes printing in color an exercise in terror), the actual cover is a nice hot pink rather than the garish flaming fuschia that appears on the Lulu page.

Thanks to everyone who has ordered— you should be receiving your books soon. For everyone else, it's too late to order for Christmas, but don't you deserve to get yourself a little new year's present?

Oh, and be sure to check Lulu's coupon page before buying.

Syncopation, Lesson 4, in 5/4

This is really a library piece— I use pp. 10-11 from Syncopation (that's Lesson 4 in the new edition) so many different ways that I wanted to put it into 5/4. We'll be referring to this soon in some other posts, but right now it's just five pages of... potential?

Many of the interpretations we've done before will apply directly to these pages, and some will take some rejiggering. Coming soon...

Get the pdf

Pad practice caveat

As someone who comes from the land of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, and the rest of that nightmare, it's kind of quaintly Canadian that he calls this a “rant”, but Ted Warren says something very important here, which I've been thinking about a lot since he posted it over a year ago:

Pure chops are experiencing a little bit of a golden age right now, and an increasing number of drummers seem to be viewing the act of playing as purely a matter of muscular training and physics, so it's good to remember that the first guiding principle for all musicians should be the sound you get out of your instrument. Forgetting that makes your practice something like, say, going fly fishing in a wading pool, or learning to bake using an inedible flour substitute. Pick your simile in which you learn a technique, sort of, but never actually do the thing that is supposed to be the whole point: making bread that tastes good, or hooking and boating a damn fish. I do think that using a practice pad is pretty much unavoidable, but it is important to remember, and compensate for, what you are not getting from it.

PS: Incidentally, Warren has a new piece up on the subject of sound, that is worth a read.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dotted-quarter cymbal in 5/4 — two measures

We seem to be having a little bit of an early Christmas/Saturnalia with all of these downloads, as I make up for a slow November. This is yet another extension of one of the Elvin series of posts (which has long since stopped being just about the so-called “Afro waltz”), using here a 3/4 dotted-quarter note cymbal pattern extended over two measures of 5/4. You'll want to have mastered these same patterns in plain old 3/4 before attempting this. Also see the page of one measure 5/4 patterns with this same cymbal pattern.

Here's a fresh link for the left hand tom moves I like to apply to these pages. If you can do these exercises with the moves, while counting out loud (just “1, 2, 3, 4, 5”), you should be well on your way to achieving a pretty unshakable 5/4.

Get the pdf

Monday, December 17, 2012

DBMITW: Milton Nascimento with George Duke

George Duke's Brazilian Love Affair, again. Ao Que Vai Nascer, by Milton Nascimento. I'm glad someone put this onto YouTube, and you will be, too, in a moment:

Transcription: Roy Haynes — Played Twice

I'm always listening to great drummers, but Roy Haynes just sweeps in and blows everyone away here. I love the way he plays this head. This is Thelonious Monk's Played Twice, from The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy:

Get the pdf

Audio after the break:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A sticking experiment

I don't know where I'm going with this idea, but what the hell, if a blog isn't the place to throw up whatever half-baked junk you happen to be fiddling with at the moment...

Here I've applied a basic three-part sticking of R-L-B (B = both hands) to a few rhythms from Syncopation:

My initial idea was that this could be another variety of Reed interpretation, to be applied on the fly, but that seems pointlessly difficult, and not really anything to do with a needed real-world musical skill. Probably a better use for the idea is to use it to generate some materials which would be completely written out, like the second line of each pair above. The goal would be to run some essential coordination idea through some rhythmic permutations in perhaps a more interesting way than the familiar “tables of time” approach. There seems to be a lot of potential in the idea when you include the four limbs, and the combinations of limbs, in the stickings. We'll see.

Get the pdf, if for some reason you want it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Transcription: Milton Banana — O Samba Da Minha Terra

Another Milton Banana transcription, this time the batucada-style intro to O Samba Da Minha Terra, from the same Sambas De Bossa album as last time. We'll probably be seeing more of these, because I really like listening to Banana's playing, and transcribing really makes you listen closely.

I've isolated the main groove at the bottom of the page, with my best guess at a sticking for it. It's a little awkward, with the three lefts in a row around beat 2, but it seems to be the most practical option given the accents— at one point or another there are snare drum accents everywhere but on the second or third notes of the three lefts. It's possible (likely?) he's doing something else, maybe a non-obvious sticking that facilitates the feel, and/or possibly using a unique sticking for each of the three or four different things that happen here. An easy solution to all of this would be to eliminate the left hand on beat 2, and do the entire pattern with an alternating sticking— that's the most common way of making this feel.

This would be a good time to revisit my posts on samba feel— I'd direct you to someone more authoritative, but none of those people seem to be writing about this on the Internet— while giving this a close listen. Here Banana plays a moderately swingy “tripteenth” feel (which basically squishes the four 16th notes into the space of the first and last notes of the triplet); the triplet pull is not extremely strong, but  he's obviously not playing even 16ths, either.

Get the pdf

Audio after the break:

DBMITW: trove o' Burton

I've been listening to a lot of Gary Burton lately— like the past five months or so— but haven't been sharing much because there's a shortage of his recorded stuff on YouTube, except for this series of bootleg live recordings. A series which I just noticed is ridiculously huge— there are dozens of videos, many of which include complete concerts dating from 1968-2011:

Vienna 1975 with Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Steve Swallow, and Bob Moses:

There are several more after the break, including one with Roy Haynes— or you can visit the Burton bootlegs YouTube channel:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Several ideas in 5/4

Nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but this came up today while I was working on Mevlevia, an ECM-type tune in a moderate 5. I've taken some basic patterns in 5/8, and applied them to a usable range of rhythms in 5/4. The base patterns should be familiar to anyone who has worked through Gary Chaffee's books, or Even in the Odds, or just fooled around with five-note patterns a little bit.

Alternate the singles on the first pattern, or apply whatever sticking you like. Patterns 2-4 can also be played on the drums as a sticking, accenting the right hand: RLRLL, RLRLR, and RLLRL, respectively. Move all of the patterns around the drums, especially the first one.

Get the pdf.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New CSD! book: 100 Grooves

OK, here it is, just in time for Christmas— our new book, 100 Grooves - vol. 1, is now available for purchase.

It contains over 100 transcribed drum grooves by people like Elvin Jones, Ed Blackwell, Airto, Billy Cobham, Zigaboo Modeliste, James Gadson, Clyde Stubblefield, Art Blakey, Mike Clark, Billy Higgins, and, as they say, many, many more. Explanatory text is by yours truly, Todd Bishop.

Some of the entries have been featured on the blog as past “grooves o' the day”, but approximately 70% of them have never been published anywhere before. Contains a whole lot of funk, Latin jazz, fusion, soul, odd meters, and the Afro 6/8 grooves I'm so fond of.

I've found that the printer, Lulu, is surprisingly fast— my past orders have made it to Portland in seven business days or less using the cheapest shipping option— but order ASAP to receive your book(s) in time to make Christmas gifts out of them.

By the way, you can still get the 2011 transcriptions book at a 10% discount— the per-note value is still the best on the Internet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Brian Blade transcription

Drummer/blogger Sam Nadel of London has given us a nice, heavy transcription of Brian Blade's solo on Jazz Crimes, along with a whole lot of other good stuff.

Give a listen to the audio after the break, then go download the complete transcription:

Dave Brubeck 1920-2012

On the occasion of pianist Dave Brubeck's passing at age 91, it might be nice to set aside the time to watch his appearance on Jazz Casual with Ralph J. Gleason:

Here's a notice from the Chicago Tribune (h/t to Balloon Juice).

And a photo series from Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cascara coordination — 01

OK, I am seriously in need of a break from working on the book— finishing the damn thing is always the hardest. So here's a page of exercises for developing coordination with the cascara, a common Afro-Cuban/salsa feel, with clave in the left foot. The method of the Elvin Jones Afro waltz series is working well for me in my own practice, so we'll use it again here. The left hand parts are  written purely based on a logic of physical coordination, and are not “correct” to the style at all. Working on Dahlgren & Fine and Ralph Humphrey's materials I've found that drilling wrong things actually helps the right things sit better.

The patterns are based on basic coordination with the singles and doubles in the right hand part, and filling the gaps in the right hand part. It should be easier to get these when you understand what's going on, but the logic can be a little obscure just looking at the page, so I've given a summary of each exercise. The right hand is normally played on the shell or rim of the floor tom, and the left hand on the snare drum as a rim click, but you can also play the right on a cymbal or cowbell— or anything else that works for you— and we'll be doing the tom moves I've outlined previously with the left.

I've written the patterns using 2:3 son clave; you should also play them with the measures reversed to make 3:2 clave. You may find some of the patterns easier at first if you start them on beat 2, or on the & of 4 of the second bar. It's certainly worth doing these patterns with hands alone, too.

Get the pdf

Monday, December 03, 2012

Groove o' the day: “They called him Craw.”

This new grooves book is almost done, believe it or not— the 20% discount on the transcriptions book should be good for just a couple of more days. The last new thing I put in the new book is this 12/8 groove by Jimmy Crawford, played on the snare drum first with brushes, then with sticks:

The sticking is mine, and the groove may be a composite because there is at least one other uncredited drummer playing along with him, and it's difficult to say who's doing what. Here's the audio:

After the break: the meaning of that headline.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good God almighty

Putting together a book is a lot of work, so here's a little palate-cleanser, for me as much as anything. Believe it or not, I've been hitting the thing for 5-10 hours a day all week. I think it'll be ready to order by Monday. In the mean time, the sale on the 2011 transcriptions book is still going...

Like I said, the book will contain about 70% new grooves. Here are a few things I'm including:

More after the break:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blog sale: 20% off transcriptions book

Who knows for how long— days, not weeks.
12/10/12 update: The new book is now, at long last, available to order. You can still get the transcriptions book at a 10% discount.

I'm feverishly working on my new book of 100 transcribed grooves in various styles, and until I get it finished I'm offering a 20% discount on the 2011 Book of the Blog — Vol. 1: Transcriptions. The sale will end as soon as I have the new book ready to order, which should be in a matter of days.

The grooves book will consist of about 30% Grooves of the Day from the blog, and 70% new, un-posted stuff. 

Sooo: If you'd like to get ~135 pages of transcriptions of the drumming of Elvin Jones, Jack Dejohnette, Vinnie Colaiuta, Roy Haynes, James Gadson, Zigaboo Modeliste, Tony Williams, Paul Motian, and many more, for under 12 bucks, hit that link, or the one in the sidebar.

It makes a great gift, by the way.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Problem Child fills

I listened to Problem Child by AC/DC a lot when I was in the 8th grade, and just happened to put it on for the first time in a few years, and realized how much a part of my subconscious Phil Rudd's very effective fills at the ends of the choruses are. I thought my tendency to fill using 3/8 groupings was a result of my jazz education, but that path was cut long before I ever got around to that, apparently.

The first is at 0:55. The chorus of the tune is a repeated two-measure riff; leading into the next verse there is a harmonic change, and an extra measure:

He plays time behind the guitar lead when the same transition happens at 1:48, beginning the solo. Coming out of the solo at 2:17 they extend the break by two more measures:

Audio after the break:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Groove o' the day: Airto — Stanley's Tune

Here's a baião-based funk groove from Airto:

That is, Airto's feet are doing baião, everything else about the tune is just early 70's funk jamitude. The accents on the floor tom are pretty subtle; he just plays the right hand a little stronger than the left.

Get Airto's Virgin Land at Amazon.com. You should really be able to get this one at your local used vinyl store, though. I don't link to iTunes, but you could try them, too.

Audio after the break:

2012 tour repertoire

Rehearsal, severely jetlagged, at Jazz Station, Brussels
More tour documentation here— this may not be real interesting to everyone. These are the tunes I had in my book on the 2012 outing, along with some notes on how our actual performance rep shaped itself. The gigs were all two to four hours long, mostly for listening audiences, with one regular restaurant gig at which we were mostly playing background music. The group consisted of trumpet, vibes, bass, and drums. I set out with a big pile of tunes, not knowing what was going to work best with this collection of players, who, except for the bassist, I had never played with before. We ended up with a couple of very effective, nicely-programmed sets of music.

Tunes with an * are on Little Played Little Bird, the CD we were promoting with this tour. Tunes with a † are my own transcriptions/arrangements; others are fake book charts. The Steve Swallow/Carla Bley tunes are from their site, which has a bunch of free lead sheets.

We played these tunes from my record on almost every gig:

†*Check Up — Ornette Coleman
Friendly tune, an easy swinger.

†*Comme Il Faut — OC
We used this free jazz anthem as our set-opener several times. We would keep it fairly short, since the gig was just starting, and I would be paranoid about scaring off the audience.

†*Enfant — OC
Bright swing tune with drum breaks on the head. By the end of the tour we were doing the first solo as a trumpet/drums duet, and trading eights with the drums after the other solos.

†*Feet Music — OC
A grooving, crowd-pleasing tune.

†*Lonely Woman — OC
One of our set pieces. You can't do an Ornette Coleman presentation without including this tune. We played it with the drums in an Afro 6/8, with the other instruments floated in at a ballad tempo. Since we were already playing a couple of other full-blown Afro-jam numbers, I had to remind the group not to play on the same 6/8 grid as me— similar to the original, in which the drums play a fast bop tempo while the rest of the group plays slowly.

More after the break:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pete LaRoca 1938-2012

Another very great drummer has died, Pete LaRoca Sims. I heard that he had entered a hospice a few days ago; his condition must have deteriorated very quickly. He was of roughly the same generation as some very crisp players like Art Taylor and Louis Hayes, but LaRoca had a looser way of playing. If there were such thing as an Elvin Jones “camp” during that period, maybe LaRoca would've been in it. I got to see him play when he was touring in the '90's, after a hiatus of many years, and he was taking a very loose, very Elvin-like approach. I think his chops may have been down a bit, but it didn't matter. Very sorry that he is gone.

This is from, I think, his greatest recording as a player— and one of the great drumming performances in jazz, period— with Sonny Rollins, Live in Stockholm:

A few more selections after the break:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transcription: Milton Banana — Flor de Liz

As I mentioned before Milton Banana is one of the great Bossa Nova drummers, and since that tends to be an under-understood style (by the whole rhythm section, actually), I want to go a little bit deeper into what's happening with his playing. So here's a transcription the head of the tune Flor de Liz, from his 1984 album, Sambas de Bossa (originally titled Linha de Passe):

The first note of the piece— the pickup on 4 with the bass drum— is very commonly used for setting up the beginning of a tune or a new section after a stop. For the body of the tune he uses the partido alto pattern on the snare drum, with the quarter notes in the middle (often it's played with the measures reversed):

The accents that occur on the cymbal later in the tune are approximate; they are not exactly even in sound or in volume— you could play them on the cymbal near the bell, and different places on the bell itself. Also notice that the ensemble figures are very clean; he gives himself a little stop before them, and reenters with the groove on beat 2 after the hits on the & of 4 (as in measure 9). The fills at measures 26 and 49 are basically the same, except he pushes the first one a little faster, so it ends ahead of beat 3 slightly.

Get the pdf

Audio after the break:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tour gear rated

C'est indispensable
I want to take a moment to mention some pieces of gear that distinguished themselves one way or another on this trip:

20" Paiste Sound Formula Full Ride with six rivets
This cymbal subs for my 22" 602 Dark Ride, and it turned out really nice. Since their sound from cymbal to cymbal is pretty consistent, and you can get them cheaply on eBay, I would not have been crushed if it had gotten stolen or lost, as I would've been with the 602. I highly recommend using a 20" when flying— my cymbal bag fit into the overhead bins on every leg of our trip. When I was schlepping a 22" I would have to sweet-talk a flight attendant into putting it in with the garment bags, risking them forcing me to check it if they didn't feel like helping me with it. Read my earlier semi-full review of this cymbal.

20" Sabian Jack Dejohnette Ride (original line)
Using two medium-weight 20" rides was a pretty unusual choice for me, but it worked well. This very dry cymbal is a nice contrast to the long and lush Paiste, and it has been working really well for me on the left side, especially when playing softer. It responds much like a drum, and has a nicely finished, clean sound when used with drums that are also pretty dry. One instance where it failed utterly was at Café Belga in Brussels— a large room that tends to have listeners close to the band and a lot of talkers in the back. There this cymbal just died.

Sonor drums - 70's, 9 or 10 ply mahogany Phonic line, I think. 12", 14", 18"
Loaned to me by a great Brussels drummer, Teun Verbruggen. These are some of the best drums I've ever played. Sounded great tuned low in the studio and on our one rock gig, and on all of the jazz gigs as well. I would love to get a set of these if I could find one for less than $3000. Hardware is typical Sonor overkill, with the plate for the tom mount weighing ~5 pounds by itself, otherwise they're not ridiculously heavy.

Sabian cymbal bag
Their heaviest-duty bag. Or their most expensive, anyway. This is the same one I had to sew up on my own because it was falling apart after a couple of years. It (and my sewing job) survived the trip, despite being jammed on flying days with two medium 20's, 16 and 18" crash cymbals, hihats, my stick bag, and my snare drum stand.

Chop Busters by Ron Fink
This is the one book I took along for grabbing a few minutes of pad practice here and there, a purpose for which it is extremely well suited. Read my original review for it here.

Some essential non-musical items after the break:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Groove o' the day: Ricky Lawson — I Need You Now

Getting back to our regular stuff, here, we've got the groove for I Need You Now, from George Duke's Brazilian Love Affair, played by Ricky Lawson:

The accents are for the hihat part only. Visit the previous DBMITW post on this tune for audio.

Friday, November 16, 2012

An epic 48 hours of travel.

Among the last civilized moments of the trip,
despite the automatic weapons.
Got up early on our last morning in Paris to go see the Eiffel Tower at dawn and then hustle with our luggage from our hotel in the Bastille to St. Michel to meet Casey's friend and mentor Mario Sprouse, who arrived in town that morning for his own tour. Straight to Gare du Nord on faith that our train to Brussels will be running despite the raging austerity strikes happening there.

Made it to Brussels for mussels and champagne, and then white box wine at Olivier's house with Casey, Catherine, Bram, Teun, and Bruno until way late. Up at 6 for a typically hairy early rush hour ride to the airport, then our flight to New York (on the incredibly civilized Brussels Air). Three hour layover in which we had to collect our bags, go through customs and immigration transfer from JFK to the Newark airport— a 30+ mile manic, Cairo-style shuttle ride— for our domestic leg, on the incredibly uncivilized US Airways. Think Greyhound with wings.

Last minute itinerary change routes us through Phoenix (key moment: bleached blond sorority chicks at the gate complaining loudly in church-lady voices about all the weirdos in Portland, and the "quality" of people there in general); ~5 hour flight with no movie and no meal (OK, you could buy one, but the hell with that) and lots of not very restful sleep in 3-second increments. Brief 65 minute layover before equally miserable two hour flight to Portland itself (key moment: after weeks of listening acutely to how people speak, noticing the middle-American, slightly-country Oregon accent on the people in the airport, and how much quieter people are in general.) Adjusting nicely after first real sleep since Paris, which was the first real sleep since Portland before that. New content coming soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tour wrapping up

Obviously it's been very hard for me to get to a computer and do any posting while I've been on tour. Our last gig is tonight, in Aachen, Germany, then I'm off to hang around in Paris for a few days. Lots to talk about when I get home at the end of next week... right now we need to run all over Brussels returning borrowed gear... stay tuned...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Riding into Paris

Operating on very little sleep here after driving back to Brussels after our Paris gigs, and organizing photos from that leg of the trip, many of which were taken with that jive Android "retro" camera app I swore I'd never use again.

A couple of more random road pics after the break:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Late gig add: Espacio ON in Etterbeek

That's a neighborhood in Brussels, which you know if you are in any position to come to the show. Espacio ON is located at Steenweg op Etterbeek 172, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium. Phone number is 0486278929. We will play at around 7 or 8pm (precise details coming this evening), and there is a cover of 5 euros.

See our other tour dates here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rehearsal @ Jazz Station - Brussels

A few shots from my quartet´s rehearsal at the Jazz Station (who were kind enough to let us play on the premises) in Brussels this afternoon. The band is myself with Jean-Paul Estiévenart (trumpet), Martin Méreau (vibes) & Olivier Stalon (bass):


More after the break:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's tour time

UPDATE: Late add- another gig in Brussels on Friday, Nov. 9.

My partner Casey Scott and I are flying to Brussels tomorrow to make her a record (for the Topsy Turvy label), and to do my tour in support of my new record, Little Played Little Bird. We'll be rehearsing through the weekend, recording my drum tracks at Jet Studio on Tuesday and Wednesday, and gigging my stuff from November 1-10.

Playing with me will be:
Jean-Paul Estevenart — trumpet
Martin Mereau — vibes
Olivier Stalon — bass

Come on down, hear us play and say hello if you're in the vicinity. And check back here or at Todd Bishop Jazz for updates from the road. 

Thursday, Nov. 1
Bar Belge — Paris  
97, avenue du Général Leclerc
94700 Maisons-Alfort FRANCE

Friday, Nov. 2  
Le Bab-ilo — Paris
9 Rue Baigneur, 75018 Paris, FRANCE
01 42 23 99 19

Sunday, Nov. 4 

Café Belga — Brussels
Place Eugène Flagey Plein
B-1050 Bruxelles/Brussel BELGIUM
Tel:+32 2 640 35 08

Tuesday, Nov. 6

LiquID  — Luxembourg
15-17 Rue Munster
 L-2160 Luxembourg-Grund
(352) 22 44 55

Wednesday, Nov. 7

Buster  — Antwerp 
Kaasrui 1 2000
Antwerpen, BELGIUM
+32(0)497 71 81 33

Thursday, Nov. 8 

Sazz'n Jazz — Brussels
Rue Royale 241 /  241 Koningsstraat
1210-Bruxelles BELGIUM
32 (0) 475 78 23 78

Friday, Nov. 9  — 19:00 (or close to it!)
Espacio ON
Steenweg op Etterbeek 172
1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium

Friday, Nov. 9  
— 22:00
Centre d’Ecologie Urbaine — Brussels 
789 Chaussée de Waterloo
 B-1180 Bruxelles BELGIUM

+32-2-34-32-281 ou +32-488-88-36-43
With songwriter Casey Scott.

Saturday, Nov. 10  

Jakobshof — Aachen
Stromgasse 31 52064 Aachen GERMANY
0241 36800

Anyone who wants to contact me can reach me most reliably through Olivier Stalon— I will be available for private lessons until November 10th.

My brother John Bishop, a great drummer, will also be in Belgium at the same time, incredibly, and you should go see him play if possible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sewing day

Backstitch — makes a strong seam
[UPDATE: My sewing job survived the tour, despite being tested fairly extremely; I had to lighten my rolling duffle before checking it, and put my snare drum stand (a lightweight Pearl) in the pouch along with my stick bag when flying to and from Portland.]

Has anyone else noticed that the quality of drum bags of late has gone— how shall I put this— straight into the crapper, somewhat?  I have a Sabian cymbal bag, a Beato stick bag, and a Tuxedo bass drum bag which have all begun to fall apart way too fast— that bass drum bag actually arrived in the mail with the lining already undone, and I didn't feel like hassling with the returning it. The others have lasted a little longer— the Sabian bag survived the warranty period, just, only to have the fabric on the pocket begin to unravel at both corners:

I'm sorry to report that Sabian's customer service department was a lot more effective at enforcing their 1-year warranty than they were making me happy. I did manage to get a phone number, and possibly could have browbeat them into replacing it for me— usually it takes talking to someone in person, and being coolly persistent, even after they've given you several unequivocal noes— but again, I just didn't feel like hassling with it. 

So I got out ye olde needle and thread and sewed the damn thing up. If you have any bags in a similar condition, start by very carefully cauterizing the fraying edge of the nylon with a match, burning off the loose threads back to the good fabric without melting the whole bag. The stitch I used is a backstitch, which you can see illustrated above; apparently it's good for this application. I'll let you know how it holds up.

For the record, I've found Beato's products in general to be excellent; I've been using their mid-range drum bags and stand case for several years, and they've held up well— the stand case especially, as it has seen the hardest use. The stick bag just had the flap on the pocket come undone, which I've sown up— what's notable is that it's the second bag of that model I've owned which has done that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What it is: swing rhythm

Extremely preoccupied with tour preparations, obviously, but fortunately I have a couple of things on deck:

Swing interpretation is something we use a lot here, and I've mostly assumed people know what it is— you probably wouldn't be reading all of this high-flying jazz drumming nonsense if you didn't. It's still a good idea to spell it all out, so people aren't working with partial information; so here are my ideas about it. I'm a player who happens to also be a teacher, and not a scholar, so other people may have different, better, or more complete ideas about it, despite the unequivocal-sounding title of the post.

Swing is a way of playing 8th notes. If you look at a fake book, a big band chart, or sheet music for standard tunes, for the most part they are written in regular old 4/4, using mostly 8th notes and longer rhythmic values:

Often explanation of how to play that with a swing feel is limited to this, or its verbal equivalent:

Swing = triplets. Got it. NEXT!

Except... no. Swing = triplets approximately the same way a “flesh”-colored Crayola = the color of human flesh:

That is, the circumstances under which flesh is flesh crayon colored are actually rather few, depending on the complexion of the individual, and the lighting in which he or she is viewed. Likewise with music, swing interpretation varies according to the player, the tempo and style of the piece, and what's going on musically at the moment.

Continued after the break:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Working on merch

Nothing but tour-related stuff going on around here right now. Here are the t-shirts we'll be selling:


You can get one for $20, US shipping included— just use the “donate” button on the right, and include a note with your mailing address.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

DBMITW: Sonny Sharrock

Having a very busy weekend with students, gigs, and tour preparations, so here's one of my favorite records from the 90's, Sonny Sharrock's Ask the Ages— by far his best album that I've heard. With Pharoah Sanders, Charnett Moffett, and Elvin Jones:

Get Ask the Ages

A couple more after the break:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Amazon store up

Just a quick note to direct your attention to the new Cruise Ship Drummer! Amazon store in the sidebar. It's full of recommended music, books, gear, and other drumming junk, and when you order through the store, we get a small commission (emphasis on small), which helps us keep bringing you quality content on a near-daily basis.

While we're being mercantile, other ways you can support the site include:
  • Making a cash donation via the “donate” button in the sidebar. Just look to the right and scroll down a bit... there it is... 
  • Buying the 2011 Book of the Blog (vol. 1, 130+ pages of transcriptions— I'm hoping to get vol. 2 completed before 2013...). Just hit that link, or click on the big yellow-y thing in the sidebar. 
  • Buying my records. Either CDs (hit the purchase CDs link in the sidebar) or digital download
  • Getting me something from my Amazon wish list, through the Astore

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Transcription/GOTD: Betty Davis — Nasty Gal

H/t to my brother on this one— he played me this record. This is from the title track of Betty Davis's album Nasty Gal. Davis (*née Mabry) was married to Miles Davis in the late 60's, when she influenced him to revamp his music and image, before going on to make a few records of some of the most outrageous funk ever. Drums are by Semmie “Nicky” Neal, Jr., who I've not heard of otherwise. I've written out the opening of the tune, with the two measure groove, with repeating fill, that he plays for the bulk of the tune, as well as the three drum/vocal breaks, and a sample of the ending groove:

This is a great lesson on how to play fills in funk— that is, at an even volume with no drummery BS. There's a good review of Davis's first record here, with background on her relationship with Miles.

Get the pdf | get music by Betty Davis

Audio after the break— you want to hear this one:

Monday, October 08, 2012

DBMITW: Milton Banana

Here's some great playing from one of my favorite Brazilian drummers, Milton Banana:

Bonus Banana after the break:

Sunday, October 07, 2012

First lesson in 5/4 — swing feel

A rare two-pager today. Here I've put a little flesh on the bones on the process I outlined in my earlier Cracking 5/4 series, with an easy first lesson coordinating snare drum and bass drum parts with a basic time feel, and learning to make a few simple choices. The goal here is not to give you hip licks to play, but to give you some things that can come out easily while you concentrate on listening to the other musicians, and not getting lost.  

Swing the 8th notes, and play the snare and bass drum softly, for the most part. In actual playing you'll play much more sparsely, using fragments of these ideas rather than the complete patterns.

Get the pdf

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Groove o' the day: Harvey Mason — The Traitor

Here's a funk groove from the Herbie Hancock album Man-Child which has both Mike Clark and Harvey Mason on drums. It sounds like Harvey to me, but I could be wrong. It was released in 1975, the heyday of playing the snare on the 'a' of 1. The tune is “The Traitor”:

Play the &s on the hihat very lightly; also ghost the snare drum notes in parentheses.

Get The Traitor | get Man-Child

Audio after the break:

Friday, October 05, 2012

USPS Priority rules, USPS Priority rules, USPS Priority rules

Request it. 
Have I ever mentioned that shipping by USPS Priority rules? It just smokes the private sector competition. I just received a pre-serial 17" Paiste 602 ride (a funny little cymbal) shipped from Hopkins, Minnesota on Wednesday the 3rd— it's now Friday the 5th. And I live way out west in Portland, Oregon, if you didn't know. Last week I received packages from Lima, Ohio and freaking Tallahassee, Florida which also took two days to get here. I think another package from Steve Weiss Music in Massachusetts might've taken an extra day.

Priority shipping (including the flat rate boxes) is the US Post Office's ordinary level of service for packages, roughly equivalent to UPS Ground in cost. UPS and Fedex, by contrast, take three days to move a package across the street, and a full five business days plus a damn weekend (unless the shipper gets it to them promptly at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning) to get something from further away.

Given an option, I always select USPS when shopping online; if there's no option, I request it in the “notes” field of the order form.

DBMITW: The Hawaii 5-0 fill, redux

What this Hawaii 5-0 nonsense is about, for people under the age of 40-something. 

Get Tale Spinnin' by Weather Report

Thursday, October 04, 2012

More Stick Control in 5/4

Another way of using Stick Control in 5/4 came up in my practicing recently, as I was working on Mevlevia. What I've done is change the rhythm to three beats of 8th notes and two beats of 8th note triplets, which helps the patterns fit into 5/4 a little better:

So the connection with the Stone exercises is clear, I've put the hands on separate lines and also given the sticking in Rs and Ls. Particularly when practicing these just on snare drum, you can also add accents to coincide with beats 1 and 3 in the original patterns, like so:

On the drums I'm playing the RH on the cymbal, doubled with the bass drum, and the LH on the snare or toms. Or you could play the RH part with both hands, and the LH part with the left or right foot.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Transcription: Bob Moses — Mevlevia

Here's a quick take of a tune that will be part of my set on the Europe trip this year: Mevlevia, from the Gary Burton record Ring, with drumming by Bob Moses. This is one of those Real Book tunes that— along with those Michael Gibbs tunes— rarely gets played. At least when I was in college and actually used the Real Book. It's a great tune though, is in 5/4, and is pretty quintessentially “ECM”:

I've just given the drum performance during the head only; Moses plays fairly repetitively throughout the piece, and my hand is fatigued from using the mouse, so that's all we're doing. He uses that 3/16 lick at the end several times later on in the piece. There's more going on with the cymbals than I've indicated— he seems to be using both hand on some of those notes, and moves between what sounds like a couple of Paiste 602 flat rides— maybe an 18 and a 20 or 22— which I haven't bothered to try to sort out.

Audio of the track is not available on YouTube, so you'll either have to buy a used LP from your local used record store (or from Amazon), or from iTunes. If you're reading this blog, you should probably own it. If you don't own the Real Book, a lead sheet for the tune is viewable online.

For more in/on 5/4, hit the odd meters or 5/4 labels at the bottom of the post. My transcription of Jon Christensen's playing on Jan Garbarek's Dansere might be especially relevant here...

Get the pdf

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Groove o' the day: Philly Joe with Hank Mobley

The 50's were apparently also the heyday of the quasi-Afro feel— all of the hard bop guys seem to have had their own way of making it. This one is by Philly Joe Jones, on the tune East of Brooklyn, from Hank Mobley's Blue Note album Poppin':

Writing it this way makes it clearer that the hihat is on 2 and 4:

This isn't available on YouTube, so you'll have to either buy the track for $1.99, or get the entire record, along with two others, for $10 at the link above. Maybe it's available on iTunes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alan Dawson's “Ruff Bossa”

We're laying it on pretty thick with the Reed interpretations right now, but I just went over this with a student, so I need to put up one more. It's a swing interpretation with partially filled-in triplets, using the 8th note rest and syncopation sections of Reed (pp. 29-44 in the old edition). Alan Dawson called this the “Ruff Bossa” interpretation for reasons I can't fathom— there are no ruffs involved, and I can't discern the Bossa Nova connection.

So here's how to interpret each written beat of the exercises, based on how the notes sound; after p. 32  you'll be dealing with rhythms that are equivalent to the ones below, but are written differently.

Play written 8th notes as alternating swing 8ths:

Play written quarter notes (or the equivalent) as an 8th note triplet with a RLL sticking, accenting the right hand:

Play notes sounding on an & only as a triplet with a RRL sticking, accenting left:

On beats where there's no note sounding— like if there's a rest, or the end of a tied/dotted note, or some combination thereof— use whichever triplet sticking you like, but don't accent.

Examples after the break: