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 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: