Magnificent Ed Thigpen Live (1960)


SKF NOTE: Now and then I find online wonderful music at a great price. Such is the case with the Oscar Peterson Trio’s Live at CBC Studios 1960.

Once upon a time I listened to this group as often as possible. Especially the albums Affinity, and Night Train. Oscar Peterson (piano), Ray Brown (bass), and Ed Thigpen (drums). This trio was, and still is, one of the golden jazz piano trios of all time.

For $5.00 dollars, at least until August 2017, Amazon is offering (MP3 format) almost 37-minutes of live Oscar Peterson Trio that’s new to me, but was released by Justin Time Records on April 1, 2016.

Justin Time Records says of this date:

After recording a ton of music in 1959, the Oscar Peterson Trio only made one studio album in 1960 (The Music from Fiorello) and was not documented again until July 28, 1961. This 1997 CD has ten selections recorded for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but not released commercially until decades later.

This trio played song arrangements. They would stretch out at times within songs, but, it was not a group that would play the song melodies, improvise, return to the melody, and end.

Drummer Ed Thigpen plays and sounds superb on this date. What a joy to hear Thigpen’s clean, musical playing on his easy-to-identify Ludwig drums. Looking for a crash course in brush playing? Thigpen’s your man.

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Drum Soloists vs Service Drummers


SKF NOTE: Drum soloists vs service drummers. That’s a distinction I don’t hear much about anymore. Growing up the two were discussed almost as separate career paths.

Q. What do you want to do with your life?

A. I want to be a professional drummer.

Q. Okay, do you want to be a drum soloist or a service drummer?

In general, drum soloists had more technique, more chops. They spent more time practicing rudiments and playing in school band, marching band — musical situations requiring solid reading and chops.

Service drummers – again, in general – had less technique, less chops. They gravitated toward garage bands, pickup groups — environments where good ears, sufficient technique, and an ability to make the other band members feel and sound good were requisite.

The best drummers from both camps knew about song structures, even song lyrics. And, of course, there were all sorts of exceptions to the rule. Drummers with oodles of chops might find themselves chronically out-of-work if they couldn’t also slip into service drummer mode.

Service drummers were rarely out-of-work, unless the only gig available was playing mega-chops music.

To be continued….

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Ed Shaugnessy: Non-Stop Believer in Teaching Drumming Traditions


SKF NOTE: The Who Reads Modern Drummer? ad campaign is still one of my favorite ideas. I’m glad founder/publisher Ron Spagnardi agreed. And I’m glad well-known drummers agreed. Here’s the ad campaign back story.

Along with Ed Shaughnessy’s letter I’ve posted consent letters from Joe Morello and Louis Bellson. Mr. Shaughnessy – along with his drumming skill – was a non-stop believer in passing along drumming traditions to other drummers. Especially younger drummers. Shaughnessy’s support of the up-and-coming Modern Drummer is a case in point.

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Hal Blaine: Drum Fills Come From Within


SKF NOTE: Hal Blaine’s thoughts on drum fills. From a Hal Blaine letter written about 35-years ago. Good advice that still holds true.

Fills…come from within. Somehow the [brain] puts it all together. It takes the song you’re working on, listens to the lyricis, computes a feel, and calls upon all the years of experience…and comes up with a fill.

I invented today’s drumset in order to have a broader range of fills: more musical, more dazzling, more show offy. It worked!

When we run down a new song, [product commercial, or tv/movie music], I try to rehearse it rather cooly. I watch the film and see what it does to me. Then when the [recording] machine gets turned on — so do I.

As far as repeating fills? Sure. Why not, if they fit and feel natural?

Remember: when there’s an opening in a song and they ask you to fill [that opening], you are contributing something that will live forever on tape or film. Make [your fill] something you would want to hear time after time.

The fill, to a drummer, is his spot. Fill it comfortably.

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Cherishing Morello’s Three-Star Album

SKF NOTE: Having once owned — and listened many times — to Joe Morello‘s Another Step Forward album, I think Jim Szantor’s 1970 review is fair. What is impossible to write about with accuracy is how Joe Morello sounds on his album. To my ears, then and now, Morello’s drums and cymbals always sound beautiful.

I recall very well finding gems of Morello ensemble work, soloing, and use of sticks, brushes, and mallets on this album. And as the years, and great drummers like Joe Morello, go by, musicians — especially percussionists — will cherish every chance to hear the greats, even their three star albums.


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The Joyful, Continuing Path of a Musical Self-Education



SKF NOTE: I found a monaural cut-out copy of John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass album in a drugstore on a wire display rack filled with cut-out albums. Africa/Brass is the John Coltrane Quartet with a big band.

That was my introduction to every musician on that record — including drummer Elvin Jones. Elvin’s playing was different than the more familiar Swing Era drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. But I liked Elvin’s sound. I liked the whole Africa/Brass album.

And from listening and reading Dom Cerulli‘s liner notes for that album alone I read about musicians who influenced John Coltrane — Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy. The Africa/Brass session musicians weren’t listed on the original album sleeve.

My point is, to a young guy with a love for music, that one album offered paths to follow to learn more. Which is exactly what I did — and still do. Each new album, book, magazine article, helped reveal fuller portraits of the musicians, other sounds, and new musical paths to follow.

I recommend this joyful, continuing musical self-education method to anybody.

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Tony and the Tractor


SKF NOTE: Getting ready to go out last night I set my MP3 player to Herbie Hancock and Santana – Live Under the Sky 1981. Some of the tracks are the VSOP Quartet with Hancock (keyboards), Ron Carter (bass), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), and Tony Williams (drums). The tracks with Carlos Santana (guitar) also add percussionists Armando Peraza, Raul Rekow, and Orestes Vilato.

I start the music playing and hop in the shower. Shower finished, I’m toweling off just as the VSOP Quartet is burning through the tune, Sorcerer. The tempo? Way upstairs. I’m listening, thinking once again, of how the rhythm section sounds of Hancock, Carter, Williams evolved from their start in the early ’60s with Miles Davis. The trio played tighter by 1981, their musical conversations non-stop, rolling on and on.

In the midst of the lickety-split, straight ahead, Sorcerer, something new grabs my attention. It sounds like Tony Williams has added rapid fire eighth notes between his floor tom and bass drum? Or was he experimenting at this concert with a double bass drum pedal?

DCltgL8XkAE1bDoI expect Tony to move on to something else, but he doesn’t. His precision, his stamina, his ability to maintain that eighth note pattern without slowing the tempo, or even missing a note — he’s like a machine!

Wait a second. Could it be? I step from the shower, moving closer to my MP3 player resting on the window sill. The window is open a bit and as I move, Tony’s eighth note drumming sound moves.

I take another step, pause, listen — and start laughing. Outside my neighbor’s Kioti KL2610 tractor engine is idling – in eighth note sync with the VSOP Quartet, precise as a click track.

What in the heck are the odds?

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