Jimmy Crawford Obituary (1980)


SKF NOTE: When I was learning to play brushes, Jimmy Crawford was a key influence. I would put on headphones and play along with Crawford on albums by pianists Eddie Heywood, Jr. and John Wright.

Joe Morello and Alan Dawson also admired Jimmy Crawford’s drumming.

This is Mr. Crawford’s obituary from Down Beat in June 1980.

Here’s a clip of a young Jimmy Crawford with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra — a killer band. Lunceford’s group appears at about 1:40 in this video.

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Terri Lyne: I Didn’t Know Girls Didn’t Play Drums


BY BILL BROTHERTON | 2017-08-02 19:56:38

Terri Lyne Carrington: “I didn’t know that girls didn’t play drums. There was no stigma. My parents encouraged me. By late elementary school or junior high, most girls stop playing instruments and go to chorus, the boys go to band. I stuck with the drums.”

Read more

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Philly Joe Jones: Nobody Plays Like That

philly joe sonny clark trio cd

SKF NOTE: Just when I least expected it, up pops Benny Golson & The Philadelphians on Amazon’s $5.00 jazz album list with superb Philly Joe Jones drumming throughout. I’m posting Stablemates from the album as an example. Listen to Philly Joe’s 52 second introduction. It’s musical, funny, slick, and Philly’s time never falters.

Nobody plays like that. Nobody.

Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Ray Bryant, Bobby Timmons, Percy Heath, and Philly Joe. Recorded on November 17, 1958 and reissued by Blue Note in 1998. I don’t know how I missed this one the first time around, but I’m enjoying this music now.

Available on Amazon as of this writing. Click here.

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Gil Evans: The Answer to All Musical Problems


Gil Evans photo by Carol Friedman, 1978. http://bit.ly/2vffwzr

SKF NOTE: This weekend I re-read Gil Evans‘s 5/20/76 interview with Down Beat contributor Arnold Jay Smith, on the cusp of synthesizers’ broad use in jazz and other musics. Evans, creator of unique, acoustic sounds, was an early proponent of synthesizers. He was also a musical adventurer, never stuck in one style.

To my ears, Gil Evans’s records were not always home runs. But that didn’t matter. His were also records I would buy without hearing them first, because I knew I would learn something from them.

“The synthesizer’s like any other instrument. They’re all the same You simply find out their capabilities and use them,” Gil told Arnold Jay Smith.

Mr. Smith, comparing the acoustic musicial instruments in Evans’s bands with the electronic instruments asks, “How do you know when to use the electronic gear?”

Gil Evans has a great deal to learn about what synthesizers can and can’t do, about what works and what doesn’t, he tells Smith.

“That’s the answer, of course, to all musical problems: sit down and do it,” said Evans.

I love Gil’s spirit.

At one point in a conversation about capabilities of synthesizers, Evans mentions wave forms, and in defining “wave form” for Arnold Jay Smith, Evans reinforces Max Roach‘s comments on great jazz musicians Max played with.

“The wave form is the sound that you recognize when you hear something played. Coltrane, Miles, Hawkins, Armstrong – that personal sound they had is their own private wave form,” said Gil Evans.

Great stuff!

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Dancing to a Flexible Beat


SKF NOTE: Last night I realized a line dance class with 40 amateur adult dancers is a perfect place to study how differently people can dance out of unison with each other – and still be dancing in time. That is, keeping the beat, with some dancers pushing the beat, others falling smack dab in the middle of the beat, and still others – like me – almost behind the beat.

And I was reminded of how larger musical groups of any style — marching bands, to big jazz bands, to orchestras — have to rehearse, to discipline themselves, to give-and-take until the whole group is hearing the beat the same.

The line dancing class is also a fun place — for me, at least — to experiment with the beat without losing the beat. I tend to think of my feet, while dancing steps, the same as if I am accompanying the dance songs on a drumset.

Sometimes, on purpose, I hold back placing my feet down (equivalent to playing an accent on a drum) until the very last second. And when I’m simply dancing for myself, not trying to sync up with a the entire class, if I focus too long on the feet of a dancer who is right on top of the beat — it can throw me off.

In small bands, musicians playing slightly out of sync can create a nice tension to the overall sound. But there will always be times when band members need to hear as one, otherwise they sound sloppy.

I am reminded of that every Monday night line dancing.

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Ed Thigpen Endorsement Letter (198?)


SKF NOTE: This is Ed Thigpen’s statement for his Who Reads Modern Drummer? ad. The background story on that ad series is here. The signature on this page is Ed Thigpen’s. The editing/proofreaders marks, and the twice underlined handwritten Save, belong to the magazine founder/publisher Ron Spagnardi.

The final statement used in Mr. Thigpen’s ad was:

Whether I’m reading the latest issue, or re-reading an earlier one, I never fail to learn something of value from Modern Drummer Magazine.

Thank you, Bernhard Castiglioni at Drummerworld.com for this instructive video of the always musical Ed Thigpen.

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Smokey Dacus – Studio Drum Recording with Bob Wills

SKF NOTE: Smokey Dacus said he is the first drumset player to play with a country band. The full transcript of our interview is available on my blog here. The start of this tape is clipped because I had switched cassettes during this phone interview, missing a few seconds of Smokey talking.

But, Smokey is talking about a young recording engineer, around the time of this interview, who is puzzled Smokey is using so few drums in the studio. Smokey tells the engineer, “You don’t need alot of drums to play rhythm.” And to prove his point, Smokey sets aside his snare drum, and records the date using hi-hat and bass drum only.

Finally, Smokey shares some historical information on how he muffled his bass drum for studio recordings starting in 1935!

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