With Max Roach and His Drums

SKF NOTE: What did it feel like, on July 15, 1981, standing with Max Roach next to his blonde Ludwig drum set in his home music room? I felt awe. Reverential respect and wonder.

Max said, “I’m playing a 22″ bass drum, 12″ and 13″ mounted toms, a 16″ floor tom, and a 14” [floor tom] which is a tunable floor tom with a Meazzi footpedal.”

I was sitting close to Max when I saw him in concerts in NY and Chicago clubs. But being within touching distance of his drums, with Max next to me, was a very different experience.

Yes, I wanted to sit at the drum set to know what that felt like; to look at Max Roach’s drum set from his perspective, notwithstanding Max was several inches taller than me.

Sitting behind them, what did Max’s drums and cymbals sound like? Was the tension on Max’s bass drum pedal loose or tight? Was playing the bass drum effortless or did it feel like a leg muscle toning machine?

Max never invited me to sit at or play his drum set. I never asked. Neither did he play his drums that day.

I wasn’t vain enough to want to sit at Max’s drums and try to impress him. It’s that I would have been fascinated to hear the sound of his drum set while seated behind them. That’s all.

Max Roach’s sound and style were a major influence on my playing and concept of drumming. To have the opportunity to interview him in his living room; and to then have him show me his drum set in his music room was heady stuff.

Forty years later it still feels that way.

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Fleetwood and McVie Behind the Curtain

SKF NOTE: Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie are one of pop music’s strongest, most inventive rhythm sections. Listen particularly to 1970s Fleetwood Mac on to the way Mick and John interlock drums and bass guitar with every song.

In this “Anatomy of a Song” by Lindsey Buckingham, he tells the Wall Street Journal’s Marc Myers, “As with our other songs, the instruments on Go Your Own Way weren’t recorded together. John put down a bass part first, then I played some guitar so we’d have a basic track for Mick Fleetwood to add his drums. That’s how we always recorded the basic track.”

I’ve long marveled at how Mick’s drumming syncs with McVie’s bass patterns. If, as Lindsey Buckingham says here, Mick Fleetwood “always” had John McVie’s bass track to play off, Mick’s melodic drum parts make perfect sense. As if the drummer converts bass guitar parts to drum parts.

Whatever they’re doing, the result is brilliant and fun to hear.


Anatomy of a Song
How ‘Go Your Own Way’ Helped Lindsey Buckingham Get Over Stevie Nicks
The 1976 breakup song was a way forward for Fleetwood Mac

By Marc Myers
Sept. 14, 2021 8:00 am ET

As with our other songs, the instruments on “Go Your Own Way” weren’t recorded together. John put down a bass part first, then I played some guitar so we’d have a basic track for Mick Fleetwood to add his drums. That’s how we always recorded the basic track.

For the bass, I asked John to play straight eighth notes, which he did. The feel he had was both flowery and sophisticated.

We wanted a great drum track before layering on other parts. The drum pattern I wanted Mick to play in the verses was modeled after Charlie Watts’s pattern on the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.”

I illustrated the pattern for Mick on a tissue box. But Mick did his own thing to pare down Charlie’s pattern. Mick made it a straight four and took one of the beats out, which made it sort of syncopated, a brilliant move.


Both Mick’s drum pattern and my strumming guitar create a tension that resolves in the chorus. When you hear the first chord of the chorus, there’s a great sense of arrival.

Full Story

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Help Drum Writer Robyn Flans Get Back on Her Feet

Robyn Flans

Robyn Flans is a dear friend, a writer who has helped chronicle the history of modern drummers. She will be familiar to MD readers and to those who have read her recent bio of Jeff Porcaro. Thank you for helping Robyn reach her goal.

Full story https://www.gofundme.com/f/e4d3h-help-me-get-back-on-my-feet

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Pat Martino – The Joy of Playing

SKF NOTE: My earliest memory of guitarist Pat Martino’s music is the release of his 1972 album The Visit! I was an album sales guy at Sam Goody’s in the Walt Whitman Shopping Center, Huntington, NY.

Martino’s music never clicked with me. Guitar player friends like him. But to my ears Pat Martino was a mega chops guitarist in need of empty space in his playing. Just because guitarists don’t have to take a breath to play guitar, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

Anyway, after he died November 1, I took time to review his recordings, and to read more about him. Sometimes when a musician doesn’t click with me, I find that learning more about the musician as a person helps me appreciate their music, their playing.

Sure enough, I came across and bought a wonderful album, Live at Yoshi’s, with Joey DeFrancesco (organ), and Billy Hart (drums). (I’ve been in a guitar/organ trio phase for awhile.)

And in the video Pat Martino – Here & Now, Pat Martino’s story of his reaction to guitar teachers who, he felt, wanted to take away his joy in playing guitar is profound. It’s a great lesson for drum teachers/students too. I’m happy to pass it along.


Pat Martino: When I first began playing the easiest way to describe the experience was common to any child with his or her favorite toy. That’s how I learned to play. With my toy. My toy happened to be a guitar and I played with it with enjoyment to the maximum.

And there was an alienation due to that that overlapped into upcoming relationships with guitar teachers. Primarily because their intentions were closer to a curriculum than to a playful experience with a toy. To them it wasn’t a toy. It was commitment to a serious instrument.

In my opinion there’s nothing more serious than enjoyment itself. So I had a need to adhere to my original commitment…to enjoyment at all times. And that’s what jazz did for me. It demanded improvisation.

And that was a ticket into personal choice, to do things the way I wanted to do them. Not based upon rules and regulations. For so many years I saw teachers as the guidance and the controllers of rule and regulations as opposed to freedom and imagination and ingenuity.

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Neal Sausen – God Bless Neil Peart

Neal Sausen. Screenshot from one of Neal’s YouTube videos.

SKF NOTE: In his first email to me about his longtime drum teacher and friend, Freddie Gruber, Neal Sausen mentioned Neil Peart’s stops by Freddie’s house to visit with his dying friend, and to bring food for Neal Sausen and others “keeping vigil” with Freddie. Sausen also mentioned, as an aside, about a night Neil paid to have Freddie’s toilet fixed.

I asked Neal Sausen if he would tell me more about that night, and if he would mind sharing the story publicly. Last night, using voice activation and a cell phone, Neal sent me a longer text about that night. I have adjusted certain voice activation word interpretation. Otherwise, here’s the story as told by Neal Sausen on November 16, 2021.


Towards the end of Freddie’s life he was bedridden pretty much of the time. Neil Peart would come by once or twice a week and bring a bunch of food for the few of us who standing vigil over Freddie. I was there every day and most of every night.

There was always someone with Freddie, usually me. Just the two of us. But other people would drop by from time to time to see Fred. Vinnie Colaiuta came by one night. Mike Baird came by one night when Neil Peart came by. I think Neil had Doane Perry with him. As usual, Neil brought some great food for us to eat. Neil was great. He really loved Freddie. Fred’s lawyer was there that night as well.

Freddie was having plumbing issues. His toilet had backed up and was not working. I think a root from a tree had grown into the pipe and was blocking the toilet.

On this particular night Fred’s lawyer called the plumber to come out and fix Fred’s toilet. Two young guys came out, probably in their mid-30s or so. I don’t think they recognized Neil Peart. But they did the job. They cleared Freddie’s toilet and got it working.

Well, it came time to pay them. Neil turned to me in Freddie’s bedroom, gave me his red plastic Bank of America credit card, and told me to go pay the plumbers. Whatever the cost. No problem.

I handed the card to the plumbers. They took down the info, gave me back the card – which I immediately gave back to Neil – and that was that.

The plumbers left and we just hung out. Doane Perry Neil Peart, the lawyer, and myself. Others may have been there. I don’t remember. I don’t remember if Mike Baird was there that night or another night when Neil came over.

I do remember Neil Peart quizzing Maine Baird about his time with Journey. But that might’ve been on another occasion.

Neil came over a lot. God bless him. That’s all I can say. God bless Neil Peart. He was a saint, that Neil Peart was.

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