"Some drummers get carried away and stop listening, maybe because we are doing four or five things at the same time. You want to see if things will work out or not, but you're not paying enough attention...We think we need to make everything happen, but it's not true: Everything is already happening, all you need to do is find your place." Albert “Tootie" Heath. Interview by Ethan Iverson in Do The Math, the bad plus blog and webzine. Jeff Hirshfield's solo on Thad Jones' composition Mean What You Say" (Rich Perry Quartet, To Start Again, SteepleChase, ...read more
Accompanied by his father, a boy approaches the drum kit, stops and stares, transfixed by the array of shapes and gleaming surfaces. Without a moment's hesitation, Greg Bufford, the man sitting on the drummer's throne, makes eye contact, smiles, and proffers an impromptu demonstration of articulate, swinging brush strokes. The sounds satisfy the boy's curiosity and capture the attention of a ring of people near the tiny, makeshift bandstand, who are patiently waiting for the band to hit.Tuesday nights at SuzyQue's BBQ and Bar in West Orange, NJ, are chock full of moments like this one. In a ...read more
"Perhaps the key to understanding his achievement is to realize that, despite the virtues of his instrumental skills, he viewed himself, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, as a musician first and a drummer only second." class="f-right s-img">--Ted GioiaWhen I'm playing, I think along melodic lines. For instance, I can go up as the notes go up. I may not hit them on the head, but the drums are a very sympathetic instrument and I can sometimes sound like I'm playing the melody without being right in tune. Naturally, I don't have the whole keyboard at ... read more
Forty-five minutes prior to New Tricks' opening set, Shawn Baltazor began to tote his drum kit from a parking space down the street from Trumpets Jazz Club. Four drums were neatly stacked and secured to a rolling luggage carrier. An oversized sack contained bulky metal hardware and miscellaneous equipment. A cymbal bag with a shoulder strap completed the load. Despite the weight and mass, Baltazor cheerfully refused help on the fifty yard trek, explaining with a smile that it's all part of being a working drummer. Keeping an eye out for oncoming traffic, he carried on an animated conversation, balanced ...read more
Bob DeVos' Organ Trio is a prime example of a band that possesses a recognizable sound yet resists facile categorization. Since 2005, along with organist Dan Kostelnik and drummer Steve Johns, the Northern New Jersey-based guitarist has played numerous live gigs and recorded two compact discs, Shifting Sands and Playing For Keeps, both released on Savant Records to wide acclaim. The group doesn't necessarily invite comparison to the fashionable, John Coltrane-influenced, Larry Young-Grant Green-Elvin Jones Trio from the mid-1960s. Likewise, DeVos and company can't be pigeonholed into the crowd pleasing soul-jazz produced by some of the classic Hammond B-3 organ ...read more
In the notes to an unfinished novel, the celebrated 20th Century author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, there are no second acts in American lives." The vicissitudes of the lives of many jazz musicians, some of whom drop out of sight for years or even decades, are exceptions to Fitzgerald's often quoted dictum.
The first act of Joe Corsello's career as a jazz drummer was in the 1970s, when he worked in a number of noteworthy mainstream ensembles, ranging from Benny Goodman to Marian McPartland to Zoot Sims. He left singer Peggy Lee's band to join the ...read more
It's impossible to do justice to all of the fine new music issued in 2009. So I've listed ten of the discs that had the greatest impact on me. Each one includes the name of the drummer who was essential in making the music special.
Joe Locke and David Hazeltine Mutual Admiration Society 2 (Sharp Nine Records) Billy Drummond
Rich Perry Gone (SteepleChase) Jeff Hirshfield
Neal Miner Happy Hour (Gut String Records) Joe Strasser
Mike DiRubbo Repercussion (Posi-Tone Records) Tony Reedus
Six years ago I started writing the Rhythm In Every Guise" column as a reaction to an imbalance that had crept into my record reviews. In many instances I was writing lots about the drummer at the expense of everyone else on the recording. The column became a means of paying tribute to venerable drum set artists, as well as a way of spreading the word on lesser known trapsters.
In a February 2009 review of Vitaly Golovnev's to whom it may concern (Tippin' Records, 2009), I made an unusually brief mention of Jason Brown, an ...read more
Recently I've been listening to Breeze, drummer Eliot Zigmund's 2008 release on the SteepleChase label. In part my interest in the recording stems from catching a couple of Zigmund's sideman gigs at The Turning Point Café in Piermont, NY. On those occasions I couldn't get a handle on all of the things that felt right about his playing. And describing some of the highlights in a live performance review didn't come close to capturing the essence of his style.
The elements that initially intrigued me about Zigumnd's drumming came into clearer focus on three of the record's nine ...read more
Throughout the ten tracks of Invisible Cities, Pete Malinverni's beautifully conceived and executed disc on the Reservoir Music imprint, Tom Melito's drumming is based on a certain amount of restraint and the capacity to meld into everything that goes on around him. Melito's unusually refined approach to the instrument is a refreshing change from the legion of contemporary trapsters who are loud and assertive to the point of insensitivity. Because his drumming is straightforward and self-effacing rather than cluttered and clamorous, you often have to listen carefully to grasp his impact on Malinverni's music. Every stroke is meticulously placed. Sometimes ...read more
It's impossible to do justice to all of the fine new music issued in 2008. So I've listed the eleven discs that had the greatest impact on me. Each one includes the name of the drummer who was essential in making the music special.
Pete Malinverni Invisible Cities (Reservoir Music) Tom Melito
Ellis Marsalis Quartet Open Letter to Thelonious (Elm Music) Jason Marsalis
Grant Stewart Young At Heart (Sharp Nine Records) Joe Farnsworth
Ruslan Khain For Medicinal Purposes Only! (Smalls Records) Phil Stewartread more
Man, I feel like cookin' this evening,"* Frank Butler proclaimed while setting up his drums in the Contemporary Records studio on October 6, 1956. Over a half-century later, his words still have the ring of absolute truth. The session, led by bassist Curtis Counce and released in 1957 as Landslide, was an incandescent beginning to Butler's recording career. The California-based trapster had previously amassed an impressive resume, including gigs with Dave Brubeck's combo and the big bands of Duke Ellington and Edgar Hayes. Throughout the record's six tracks, Butler is positively inspired, holding the band together in tandem with Counce's ...read more
In an era when serving a lengthy apprenticeship in a working band is no longer an option, young players who shun fashionable pop-influenced sounds in favor of traditional jazz styles must be very resourceful. Thirty-year-old drummer/composer/bandleader Pete Zimmer balances a desire to extend the modern straight-ahead mainstream into the twenty-first century and the ability to support his ambitions by taking care of the business that surrounds the music. Shortly after arriving in New York City in 2001, Zimmer put together a band of like-minded peers, found a substantial amount of work, and began releasing records on his Tippin' Records imprint.read more
Housed in the rear of a nondescript building on a busy northern New Jersey thoroughfare, Showplace Studios is a no frills workspace nearly devoid of worldly distractions. The Showplace consists of an office, a small lounge, a control room, and studio. Regardless of where you are in the compact area, everything is just a few steps away. Before the musicians arrive to begin the day's recording, the place is silent except for the low drone of the recording machinery. The only sign of life is a small TV in the lounge turned to CNN with the sound off. ...read more
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