Modern Drummer's MP3 Page

Mark Sabbatini By

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Sometimes circumstances just call for a good beating.

Having gotten mine from a variety of masters at administering them, an explanation is probably in order before the politically correct crowd flames me in e-mail effigy. Nothing gets abused beyond some metal, plastic, wood pulp - and maybe a few animal hides - for those experiencing Modern Drummer magazine's free MP3 downloads .

The collection of 19 songs, compiled from current releases and albums dating back to the 1980s, are in unprotected MP3 format, roughly 90 minutes in length and about 81mb in size. Downloading individual songs is simple and good descriptions of performers and selections, plus links to their Web sites, are provided.

Played in the order presented, it's somewhat inconsistent in both quality and genre.

Billy Cobham's "Before And After"? is a fairly tame contemporary jazz opening. According to the site, "his light touch is on display in an acoustic quintet, and he is so smooth it is hard to tell that there are odd meters everywhere."? True enough and, while this can be better appreciated after a few listens, this subtlety on an opening track it's something less than an ideal pick unless the purpose is not scaring people off

Get to "Whirlwind Chaser"? by Billy Martin (of Medeski, Martin and Wood), however, and it's clear moments of fruition are ahead. He plays a dense "spontaneously composed"? rumble with heavy Native American influences on drums and various percussion with no accompanying instruments. Also, it's worth noting the link to his label's site features more than 100 of relatively low-fi MP3 files (56kbps, roughly FM radio quality) and, while many are short demos, plenty of others are longer files several minutes long.

Other high points include the Jim Beard's funky Fender Rhodes accompanying Billy Ward on "Step Inside,"? and Bob Moses and Tisziji Muños somehow using drums to pay an appropriate free jazz tribute to John Coltrane on "Elephant Song."? Two exceptional tracks near the end of the collection are Paul Wertico (of the Pat Metheny Group) leading a rockish modern trio on "Taliaville"? and the Gamelan Orchestras from Indonesia performing a "bamboo duo"? of Bali music on various percussion.

The mix also hits its stride, at least for jazz fans, at the midpoint for a string of several songs beginning with Hilary Jones' electric funk on "HJ Midget Match"? and continuing through selections like the modern mainstream of Vinnie Colaiuta backing pianist John Beasley on "Personal Legend"? and Joe La Barbera's Big Band performing two contemporary large ensemble works.

A few tracks are hard-rock oriented and as a whole below the level of the jazz tracks, if only because there seems to be more emphasis on the vocalists. But they're intermittent enough not to be a serious distraction for someone who downloads the entire collection and it's not like listeners will feel a need to keep them or any other less than great tracks out of a sense of financial obligation.

Visit Modern Drummer on the web.

Track listing: Before And After (Billy Cobham); Whirlwind Chaser (Bill Martin); Step Inside (Billy Ward); Alarum (BK Groove); Zone B (BK Groove); Elephant Song (Bob Moses, Tisziji Muños); Sexy (Carmine Appice); Submarine (Gregg Bissonette); Midget Match (Hilary Jones); Dub Stylee (Illy B. Eats); Personal Legend (John Beasley); Message From Art (John La Barbera Big Band); Tiger Of San Pedro (John La Barbera Big Band); My Baby Wants To Tame Me (Local H); Desoloista (Marco Minnemann); Forgiven (NDV); Taliaville (Paul Wertico Trio); Puri Bagus (Pitamaha); Tchfunkta (Stanton Moore); Good Good Living (Vanilla Fudge)


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