Thursday, January 09, 2014

DBMITW: my fat bass drum

Just sharing a little piece of my own development here. From the early 90's, until I finally submitted to the too-soft, you-don't-really-want-drums-on-this-gig-do-you craze of the mid-oughts, I played a 20" Gretsch bass drum with Remo Ambassadors on both sides, tuned wide open. In the 80's I had seen Art Blakey play with an obviously unmuffled drum, and Steve Smith came to the University of Oregon, with his shockingly wide-open 24" Sonor drums— he was still with Journey at the time, and had them tuned that way with them. But it was these two recordings that really got me using that as my thing all the time.

First, Roy Haynes playing with McCoy Tyner on an almost-lost tribute to Coltrane album from the late 80's— I used to listen to this track on cassette over and over walking from the practice annex on Figueroa to my apartment on Adams, when I was at USC:

And then the opening track on Where In The World?, a masterpiece Bill Frisell album from 1991. Coming at the end of the fusion era, Joey Baron's sound here, produced by Wayne Horvitz, was pretty extreme. Frisell had just moved to Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest was forming up in my mind as actually being a place, and as having some kind of regional aesthetic, and I gave up on LA, and moved to Portland:


Tommy said...

What do you mean when you say tuned "wide open"?
Thanks for all your work on the site, it's great.


Robbie Bergamin Percussion Artist said...

i guess he means no bedding or upholstery inside......

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks Tommy-- yup, no muffling whatever. Usually with the batter side pretty loose, and the front fairly tight. You can get a really big sound out of a drum like that.