Showing posts from 2013

Year End Review—The Best recordings of 2013

Once again it's time for my year end review. And what a year it's been! Lot's of great music, books, films, and other artworks. Let's get started. Recordings David Bowie - The Next Day What a surprise when Bowie dropped this unexpected release on us. Even better that he also dropped a whole album full of extra tracks. This has received a lot of play by me. It's very much late period Bowie (think Heathen), with traces of his whole career. Outstanding tracks for me are: Where Are We Now? , Heat , and God Bless The Girl . Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche Forget the fact that there are 2 version of Queensrÿche out there now (one lead by Geoff Tate, the other by the 4 other band members with new singer Todd La Torre). This is by the La Torre fronted band and the music is killer! If you love the heavy sound of the old Queensrÿche, then this is for you. La Torre has the power and range to deliver a stunning vocal performance. Drummer Scott Roc

The Myth of the Rudiments on Drum Set - Part 2

Most drummers are familiar with the name Buddy Rich. He has been acknowledged as one of the greatest, if not the greatest drummers of all time. His drum solos are legendary (as was his temper!). Ages ago, Buddy, at the urging of his friend, the great drum teacher Henry Adler, sort of put his drumming into a book, called Buddy Rich's Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments.  This book is a rather great and enduring book on the (then) 26 drum rudiments and variations. It has gone through multiple printings and a recent upgrade/modernization. The thing is, Buddy was a jazz drummer . From what I know, he never played in a marching band, drum corps, or symphony orchestra. Buddy was about jazz . And if you go through the book, there is not one jazz rhythm, or one cymbal note to be found! Let's look at 2 examples: OK, so I'm at the gig swinging (or if it's a rock gig, grooving ) and in the chorus I pull this out and proceed to nail it pe

The Myth of the Rudiments on Drum Set

OK, I come out of a heavy rudimental/drum corps back ground. I spent a lot of time in my younger days shedding on the rudiments and marching. Snare drumming was a big interest of mine. I marched in high school, university, and drum corps. But you don't really need to be up on the rudiments to play drum set, which has a completely different musical context than marching. Ringo, Charlie Watts, and Levon Helm all had great careers without working up their  ratamacues . Sure, there are drummers like Steve Gadd, who comes from a rudimental back ground, but he's more an exception then the rule. I'm not saying the rudiments are unnecessary, but unless you are going into drum corps, or are just really into the rudiments, there's not a big need to shed on them to play drum set.  Now I believe in the rudiments, as there is a lot of benefit to be derived from mastering them. The rudiments are very sound and fundamental building blacks of good drumming technique. They are a grea

There Is No One Way

It's easy to get caught up in the way you do things and think that it's the only way. Or you can look at other bands/musicians and think, "They're doing it wrong," or, "My way is best." But the Universe is vast, and there are many ways to reach the same end.  That's one thing that attracts me to percussion: everyone's drum/percussion set is different. A piano is a piano, a trumpet a trumpet, a sax a sax, but drum set ups are always different and different sounding. This can often make the same piece of music very different sounding depending on who plays it. A good example is one of my favorite solo percussion pieces, Six Japanese Gardens , by composer Kaija Saariaho, scored for solo percussion and backing electronics. Here are 5 different performance videos from YouTube (there are even more videos of others performing this popular piece). The thing to notice is how each drummer uses different sounding instruments, which gives each performanc

The Age of Disinformation

As much as my last post was about, Make A Good Sound , this one is about getting sound advice , or more accurately, getting correct advice about making music.  It's 2013, and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can claim to be an expert on some subject, then proceed to post audio, video, or words for all to see. The 2 biggest examples of this are Wikipedia and YouTube . Both are filled with wondrous information for free. It's really quite amazing. But the other side of this is, there's an amazing amount of bad, and just plain wrong information being presented. I have a son currently in college, and he cannot use Wikipedia as a source for term/research papers, just because so much of what's out there is more opinion than fact. This is not to say there isn't a lot of great info, but you really have to be careful about what you believe as true. When in doubt, look for second sources to back something up. A perfect example of this is on

Fierce & Uncompromising: Ronald Shannon Jackson

On October 19, 2013, the music community lost one of its most original musicians, drummer/composer/band leader, Ronald Shannon Jackson. I first became aware of Shannon through a magazine interview. He was straight talking, intense, and had a sense of confidence about him like few others. Some would see it as boastful, I saw it as a man who knew both himself and his mission. The focus of the interview was his then new, first solo recording, Eye On You . I ran out and scoured the record stores for a copy. My young drumming self was not prepared for what sprung out of the vinyl groove! Just like the drummer in the interview, the music was fierce and uncompromising. It hit me the same way that Tony Williams' 'Emergency' had. I didn't really understand what was going on. So I played it a few times, then filed it away. Sometime later, I pulled it out and played it again. I kept doing this until one time it finally clicked with my brain. I finally got it, what Shannon