Bootleg a Day #3: Aaron Goldberg, Francisco Mela, Tivon Pennicott, Jaleel Shaw, John Benitez: Lotus Flower jam @ Zinc

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Bootlegs, Inspiration

Back in October 2011 I spent a month living in Brooklyn trying to check out and play as much music as possible. I stumbled into Zinc Bar my second day in town – ready to throw down at their jam – after checking out Greg Hutchinson’s show over at Smalls. Aaron Goldberg was playing with Greg’s group that night, and when he later walked into Zinc, I was relieved to have already sat in and said my piece in the jam.

When Aaron jumped on stage, the room lit up, and Tivon Pennicott and Jaleel Shaw were ushered onto the stage. Drummer Francisco Mela and bassist John Benitez had already been playing and absolutely burning. So, the group started playing an uptempo version of the minor standard Lotus Flower, and they just tore it up. Check out Tivon starting around 2 minutes in, incredible sound & feel, and he builds a beautiful solo.  Aaron Goldberg takes over around 5 minutes in, enough said…Enjoy!

 

Aaron Goldberg – Piano

Francisco Mela – Drums

Tivon Pennicott – Tenor

Jaleel Shaw – Alto

John Benitez – Bass

 

Bootleg a Day #2: Mark Turner @ Constellation w Avishai Cohen, Joe Martin & Justin Brown

Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 in Bootlegs, Inspiration, Trumpet

Next up in our series, we present the incomparable Mark Turner in a set from just 4 days ago!  He brought his group to Chicago’s newest and hippest jazz venue, Constellation.  They played 2 sets that drew mostly from his latest album, Lathe of Heaven, which hit the shelves only a couple weeks ago. What an experience!

I must admit, I picked up the album as soon as it came out, and I listened to it a few times with a bit of difficulty. My ears were unsure of how to process some of the 2 part horn harmonies without chordal support. However, witnessing this group live in such an intimate setting as Constellation drew me in, and I was spellbound by the end of the show. Mark’s tone coated the room with such a lush, dark, and gentle hue, and his compositions proved both creative and satisfying.

Avishai must be the most underrated trumpet player on the scene today, so I’m glad he’s seeing the spotlight with the likes of Mark and the SF Collective. I’d heard Justin Brown with Gerald Clayton a few times, and his sensitive, active presence on the drums is always a treat. He’s such a fantastic listener. And although I’d heard Joe Martin on record, his playing in person was even more fulfilling. Overall, what a show!

Mark Turner – Sax
Avishai Cohen – Trumpet
Justin Brown – Drums
Joe Martin – Bass

Bootleg a Day: Ben Wendel Quartet @ Smalls w Joe Sanders, Gerald Clayton, & Henry Cole

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Bootlegs, Inspiration

This week I’ll be treating you to some of the incredible music I’ve experienced over the past few years. Each day you’ll be getting a new bootleg that I’ve recorded (yes, on my iPhone) from a live show that blew me away. We begin the series with the Ben Wendel Quartet at Smalls on June 5, 2014.  Ben’s control of the saxophone is astounding. Notice his use of circular breathing in his a-capella intro: he doesn’t even break a sweat! And who can beat that rhythm section –Joe Sanders and Gerald Clayton have played so much music together that their level of communication is telepathic. I was also blown away by my introduction to Fela Kuti-inspired drummer Henry Cole.

Ben Wendel – Sax
Joe Sanders – Bass
Gerald Clayton – Piano
Henry Cole – Drums

5 Steps to Finding Your Sound Through Imitation

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Improvisation, Inspiration, Practice Tips, Sax

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When you hear John Coltrane, you immediately know it’s Trane. It’s not the notes he’s playing or his dazzling technique that makes him sound uniquely like himself. It’s his sound. Every jazz musician, at some point, ventures into the abyss in search of their own, unique sound. Your sound is what makes you, well, you. But where do you start?

Let’s begin by defining the core elements that determine one’s “sound”:

  • Articulation – Contrast Wayne Shorter’s heavy tongue with the light, legato style of Hank Mobley.
  • Color/Tone – Joe Henderson’s rich, dark tone stands in stark contrast to the bright, aggressive color of Michael Brecker’s tone.
  • Rhythm– Dexter Gordon plays his eighth-notes straight and behind the beat, while Cannonball mostly uses a heavy swing and plays squarely in the middle of the beat. Sonny Rollins loves the off-beats.
  • Harmonic Conception – Do they always play a flat-9 over a the five chord on a major ii-V7-I? Do they employ a lot of chromatic runs and enclosures a-la Mark Turner?
  • …read more

    Roy Haynes Solo on “In Walked Bud”

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    Following up my first post regarding bebop drum vocabulary, I thought it would be fun to present an incredibly tasty Roy Haynes transcription.  This particular solo is from Thelonious Monk’s 1958 live album Misterioso, and features Thelonious on piano, Johnny Griffin on tenor sax, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, and the incomparable Roy Haynes on drums.

    There are several reasons that make this particular drum solo so enjoyable, both as a listener and as a student honing one’s craft.

  • Of the two chorus solo, Roy devotes the entire first chorus to the melody.  “In Walked Bud” is a catchy and repetitive tune; perfect for developing rhythmic ideas around the kit.  Roy masterfully orchestrates the slight variations along the way, and provides a valuable lesson in the power of simplicity.
  • The second chorus opens up into more traditional bebop drum vocabulary.  There are plenty of wonderful ideas played here, from the thoughtful use of buzzes, stick-on-stick passages, and rimshots to create sonic variety, to the introduction of triplets and sixteenth notes as the chorus develops as a means of increasing tension.
  • Lastly, Roy maintains his usual sense of swagger.  That is to say, nothing is played in a careless, boring way.  Every musical phrase has a sense of urgency behind it!
  • …read more

    Juan Pastor Chinchano

    Posted by on Mar 29, 2014 in Chicago Scene, Drumset, Inspiration

    I’m left wanting to hear the rest! Here’s a preview of Chicago drummer Juan Pastor’s new album, Chinchano featuring Jorge Roeder on bass, Stu Mindeman on piano, Rich Moore on sax, and Marquis Hill on trumpet, all fantastic musicians deserving of wider praise. Paul Mutzabaugh works his magic to really bring Juan’s arrangement to life. Check it out:

     

    Bebop Solos for Drumset

    Posted by on Mar 13, 2014 in Drumset, Improvisation, Inspiration, Practice Tips

    Artofbopdrumming

    Bebop Drum Solos

    One of the challenges in teaching jazz drumset to younger musicians is connecting the dots between their existing physical technique and a stylistic concept of what it means to play jazz/bebop vocabulary.  John Riley has authored three incredible books: The Art of Bop Drumming, Beyond Bop Drumming, and The Jazz Drummer’s Workshop; all of which prove helpful to students over the course of their development.

    It also goes without saying that listening to jazz music (or any style of music one is attempting to master) is first and foremost the most vital learning tool.  A particular strategy that I have utilized more often in recent years is composing short exercises to introduce classic bebop drum vocabulary.  Many of these phrases are common, and are reminiscent of Max Roach or Roy Haynes.  That being said, they feel fresh and exciting for a young drummer only beginning to build a toolkit of jazz phrasing/vocabulary.

    Below are three distinct 12-bar drumset solos.  The first deals only in eighth-note subdivisions.

    The second introduces eighth-note triplets.

    The third solos introduces sixteenth-notes, and moves between subdivisions ala Elvin Jones.

    Once a student has learned these short solos, I find it helpful to break them into four-bar phrases to practice trading with timekeeping.  I also have students compose their own short solos as a bridge between reading and improvising.  Finally, we practice improvising over short forms with the added confidence/awareness of possessing an authentic vocabulary around the drums.

    Here are the downloadable PDF files:

    Drum Solo 1

    Drumset Solo #2

    Drumset Solo #3