Joe Morello on Technique (1978)


SKF NOTE: I interviewed Joe Morello in 1978 at his New Jersey home. My friend and fellow drummer, Chris Conrade, was with me. We three sat in Joe’s living room and Joe often played during the interview with drumsticks on his nearby drum pad.

In this excerpt Joe is looking for a simple way to describe his understanding of drum technique. If you’re listening to this excerpt you will hear Joe talk about technique and demonstrate what he talks about on his drum pad. He also talks about his “good friend” Mel Lewis’s technique, and a little bit about Buddy Rich.

This is all timeless drummer food for thought.

Posted in Audio, SKF Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

Ray Davies – Happy Mistakes that Make a Band Unique

SKF NOTE: Great songwriters have a special place in my heart. Performing onstage in front of an audience is often nerve wracking, but that experience for band leaders, front-men, must be scarier than it is for sidemen. When the front-man is also the band’s chief songwriter?

Then the front-man, chief songwriter, goes out on his own. His legendary band behind him, the songwriter pursues a solo career. He still loves his old songs, but recognizes his need for new songs from a new point of view.

Ray Davies‘s first Top 10 hit with the Kinks was “You Really Got Me” in 1964. He’s still writing valuable songs from his unique worldview. The songs are not Top 10 hits, but so what?

Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story is Ray Davies’s book about his post-Kinks musical quest. His two albums correspond to the book: “Americana” (2017) and “Our Country: Americana Act II” (2018).

Mr. Davies’s book, “Americana” is a quite interesting introspective. The excerpt here is Davies making good points for any performing musician. Great bands are sometimes greater than the individual band members. According to Davies, the Kinks are a case in point.

In searching for new musicians, a new band, Davies finds that a roomful of virtuoso players won’t necessarily “gel as a band.”

“I was longing for those happy mistakes, those errors that make a band unique,” writes Davies. See if you can spot the “happy mistake” in the 1965 video above of the Kinks appearance on the “Shindig” tv show.


Posted in Audio, SKF Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

Who is Gary Chester?


Who is Gary Chester?
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • October 29, 2018

Gary Chester, starting in the 1960s, was a top New York studio drummer. One of a special breed of musicians who music producers and artists counted on to make hit records. Mostly these musicians worked inside recording studios in places like New York City, Los Angeles, Muscle Shoals, and New Orleans.

When Gary Chester retired after 20 years as a studio musician, he had chalked up 14,000 recording sessions. If you listen to classic rock and pop music, it’s hard to go through a day without hearing Gary Chester’s drumming.

Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” Dionne Warwick’s “What the World Needs Now,” The Chiffons, “He’s So Fine,” Petula Clark, “Downtown,” Jim Croce, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” John Denver’s, “Rocky Mountain High,” and The Drifters’ “Up On the Roof.” These hits barely scratch the surface of Mr. Chester’s body of work.

The first time I heard about Gary was in a letter sent in response to my 1982 five-part Modern Drummer magazine series, “A History of Rock Drumming.” The letter, signed “Gary Chester,” patted me on the back, but wondered why I hadn’t included Gary Chester.

Full story

Posted in SKF Blog | Tagged , ,

Ed Soph – Make Jazz Drumming History Interesting (1978)


SKF NOTE: This excerpt, from my first of a few interviews with Ed Soph, follows earlier discussion on how best to teach students the history of jazz drumming. Ed’s idea seems simple enough: don’t bore students, make the subject interesting.

Ed’s home in Garrison, NY — upstate near Bear Mountain — was the setting for this interview. You’ll hear birds singing in the background. My friend, and Ed’s drum student, Chris Conrade, took part in the full conversation, although Chris is not heard in this excerpt.

But Chris did introduce me to Ed Soph, and I’m glad he did. Soph is always interesting to interview.

Posted in Audio, SKF Blog | Tagged , , ,

Joe Morello: St. Louis Blues 1964

SKF NOTE: The internet has some excellent video of Joe Morello for all of us to study. I may be late to the party, but I don’t remember seeing this 1964 in concert clip of Joe with The Dave Brubeck Quartet playing “St. Louis Blues.” I came across it two days ago.

The camera angles are good. Several opportunities to study Morello’s hands. Also, the drummer, and pianist Dave Brubeck, engage in several minutes of the band’s characteristic layering of time signatures. The closer is a thematic drum solo by the one-and-only.

Posted in Audio, SKF Blog | Tagged , , , ,

Remo Belli Taught Me to Listen


SKF NOTE: A brief reminder of an important skill. I’m not surprised Remo Belli was “the best listener.” Think of all the feedback Mr. Belli must have considered, solicited and unsolicited, while perfecting his plastic drum heads.
9 Questions With Chris Hart, Drummer Psychologist
September 27, 2018

Q …Remo Belli…helped put you where you are now. What did you learn from him?

A. The best thing I learned from Remo was to listen. I wish he was here so I could thank him for that. Remo was the best listener I ever met in my whole life. He let you talk. What I learned from Remo was to listen without interrupting. He listened. He didn’t agree all the time. He let you talk. He would repeat what you said. I took that and ran with it.

Full Story

Posted in Drum/Music News, SKF Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

Two Drumsticks, One Sound


SKF NOTE: Isn’t it curious how root life principles apply across the board? Therefore, the art of drumming inspires the great Japanese Samurai swordsman, Musashi, to develop his unique two sword style.

Here are a series of quotes from a chapter in, “Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era, by Eiji Yoshikawa.” An instructive novel on several levels, I finished reading it last week.

In this scene, Musashi has taken a young student to a festival to hear the drummers performing. The student, not Musashi, was interested in drumming. But while watching and listening to the drummers, the great Samurai this a revelation:

The revelation struck like lightning. Musashi had been watching the hands of one of the drummers, wielding two short, club-shaped drumsticks. He sucked in his breath and fairly shouted, “That’s it! Two swords!”

“Two swords,” he repeated. “It’s the same principle. Two drumsticks, but only one sound.” He folded his arms more tightly and scrutinized the drummer’s every movement.

Two drumsticks, one sound. The drummer was conscious of left and right, right and left, but at the same time unconscious of them. Here, before his eyes, was the Buddhist sphere of free interpenetration. Musashi felt enlightened, fulfilled.

Posted in SKF Blog | Tagged , , , ,