Sunday, November 16, 2014

Things I learned at a Billy Mintz concert and clinic, and hanging at Revival Drums

Get it here.
I already knew this, but I was reminded of how great is the distance between things we can talk about and write about with drumming, and the actual music itself. The actual music is a living, instant process, and practicing it, and studying it, is just sort of nipping around the edges of understanding it. It's like science is to the natural world; it doesn't claim to be able to tell the whole truth about everything, just about things it can say kind of for sure based on its own method. So we talk about the things we can, given the limitations of our media— language, the Internet, the software, and an imperfect user, me— and we don't talk about the things we can't. And what we can't talk about is a lot of stuff. It's almost the whole real thing.

So I won't try to say a lot about the concert, except that there was significant music happening. The players' patience was striking. They were not always in a hurry to get to the next note, and certainly not to get to some big, obvious, emotional payoff; but the music was never boring, or especially long-winded. The tunes, I think all by Mintz, were beautiful— something Monk-like about them, which was reinforced by the playing of Roberta Piket, the pianist, without anyone being overly referential or obvious about it.

It made me realize that some other music which I had been immersing myself in for another post, is total f__ing jive bullshit. Suddenly it's about as admirable to me as someone delivering a truly impressive time-share sales pitch. I can't have the music be just about the players' talent, and how much stuff they know.

Other thoughts:

Billy had a funny cymbal set up with two 70s-vintage Paiste 2002 20" sizzle cymbals— maybe one was a ride and the other a “medium”, a crash-ride. I thought he picked them out of Revival's stock, but they were his. They're not light cymbals, and the sound is a little different than you normally hear in a jazz context, but they had a nice tonal thing going on between them.

Everyone needs to buy more CDs. Can we all agree to make it a habit? Go to a show > buy a CD. Here, go order a Billy record.

I finally found a budget (well, mid-range) cymbal that not only doesn't suck, but that is actually really good: Istanbul's Xist line. The quality of the sound is somewhere between an A and a K. Jose at Revival informs me that they're actually consistently good— unlike the Dream brand, which is in the same approximate price range, and is sometimes great, but mostly not.

Revival Drums is another reason why Portland rocks. Going there really makes me feel like I need to add about $1500 per annum to my gear budget. Highlights: the cymbals below, a really perfect early-80s Yamaha Recording Custom set for $1800, a yellow-sparkle Rogers double-bass set from the 60s, a rare Yamaha floor tom with a tensioning pedal for doing talking drum-like effects. Really surprised no one has snapped that up...

Another reason Portland rocks is the company Cymbal & Gong— Revival was carrying several of their— or his, I think the company is one guy— hand-hammered, K-type cymbals. I believe the cymbals are manufactured in Turkey, and C&G hand selects the ones that get their brand, and patinas them. They also have seconds that don't get patina-ed, and are cheaper. It sounds almost like a miniature version of the old Gretsch warehouse in New York here. Jose says Matt Chamberlain, the guy from Tortoise, and a bunch of other big rock people are buying these. I smell a CSD! feature here...

Anyone in Portland who missed the show can see John Gross and Mintz play a duo concert at Revival on Wednesday night, the 19th.

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