SKF NOTE: As a kid, I always loved The Kinks’s music. Their rockers as well as their ballads. And I owned several Kinks albums, from their first LP to either Arthur or Muswell Hillbillies. Then my limited funds were spent more and more on jazz and blues albums.
SKF NOTE: Scanning from my stack of old publicity photos, pictures of drummers. I will add these photos as often as I can. Also, if I get more background info on any of these photos I will add that info to my original post.
I was fortunate to see this band in concert when I interviewed drummer Derek Hess for Modern Drummer magazine. Here’s that back story.
SKF NOTE: Drummer Art Taylor’s Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, which I bought when first published in 1977, remains an interesting read and source book. As time goes by, whenever I open “Notes and Tones,” I find something new, interesting, and instructive. This snippet from Mr. Taylor’s interview with Dizzy Gillespie is a case in point. Mr. Gillespie shares his wise perspective on creating a unified band.
Dizzy Gillespie: “One time a funny thing happened to me. I said to Teddy Stewart, the drummer, ‘You’re supposed to inspire the soloist.’ He said, ‘Have you ever thought that the soloist is supposed to inspire me?’ I didn’t say nothing else. It’s true, we’re all supposed to inspire each other to great heights.
“If you have a group, the group is like a painting, a masterpiece. Each one of the instruments represents a specific color, and the diversity of the colors makes it beautiful. You’ve got five pieces, and none of them sounds alike, but they must have unity.
“So you take red, orange, blue, green or purple: Each color in its diversity is supposed to be beautiful. Each one has a role, and when one of the colors overlaps onto another, you have chaos. Therefore, each one should be thinking in terms of the whole, in terms of the beautification of the diversity of the instruments.
“Paintings don’t clash, like a purple going over into another color. They stay what they are, but it’s the whole picture that makes for the togetherness. Unity.”
“My dad chose setlists for the two nights that I hadn’t heard before. He…shied away from the tried and true and went to places musically that were very different. [T]hankfully, his last recordings were caught on tape for all of us to enjoy forever. It has taken thirty-three years to finally get these recordings out. An absolute labour of love that I never gave up on. At times it was quite a struggle, but in the end, it was all about the music.’ Source: Cathy Rich
A great teacher shares some life Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • November 22, 2019
Freddie Gruber was a great drum teacher. If you have a great teacher in your life, no matter the subject taught, then Freddie Gruber won’t be a total stranger.
I was thinking yesterday of meeting Freddie Gruber in 1982. Excerpts of my interview with Freddie are posted on YouTube and my blog. The years 1980 to 1983 were fun and instructive. Through my job with Modern Drummer magazine, the staff and readers were creating new, in-depth material with familiar drummers.
We were also discovering drummers with great careers who had stayed under the music publicity radar. Some played exclusively in recording studios or in orchestra pits for theater performances. For years, most music buyers showed no interest in knowing specific musicians playing on albums. The soundtrack of “West Side Story,” for example, had composer Leonard Bernstein’s name, but not the individual musicians playing that incredible music.
In the early 1980s, the MD editors and writers were starting to find and interview those kinds of unsung musicians.
SKF NOTE: When playing copy songs in bands, I was never big on note-for-note copying of the original drummer’s parts. Sometimes I duplicated drum parts, but most often I captured the flavor of original drum parts while creating my own drum parts. Lacking technique sometimes prompted my decision to do my own thing. Mostly I had no interest in spending time learning to copy drummers on records. Chances are the original drummers came up with their own drum parts — why shouldn’t I do the same?
YouTube is thick with videos of Karaoke drummers playing along note-for-note — including breaks and solos — with some famous record, i.e. Philly Joe Jones’s Billy Boy. I suppose there is some merit as a learning tool in dissecting and memorizing well-known drum parts. But that’s like learning the alphabet, then to spell, then to write, and spending most of your time retyping and reciting famous books: “Hey, look here. I wrote Catcher in the Rye.”
Actually, no. J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher in the Rye. You just memorized and retyped Salinger’s bestseller.
The principal in learning to copy famous drum parts and solos is the same. You didn’t create For Big Sid or Toad. You just memorized drum solos created by Max Roach and Ginger Baker.
As I said, dissecting master drummers has merit. It’s the same for writers studying the works of great writers. Of lumberjacks studying the work of master woodcutters. The principle applies to any profession.
At some point, however, drummers need to find our own voices. That’s hard.
There is a YouTube video of a drummer telling his interviewer about playing one night at The Five Spot when Tony Williams was in the audience. (I’ve forgotten the drummer’s name, but I’ll find it and add it to this post when I do.)
The drummer said during a break he was talking with some people, being somewhat apologetic about his drumming concept — which was still a work in progress. Tony Williams was in that group. He told the drummer – paraphrasing – not to be apologetic, but to consider instead that no one else had yet approached the drums the way he — the Five Spot drummer — was approaching the instrument.
I love that. Is there any doubt Tony Williams was simply passing along a consideration he had about his own way of drumming?
SKF NOTE: This is the last segment of my full interview, no edits, with Frankie Dunlop. The interview took place in 1984 in two sessions. The first session, on October 16, 1984, was at my former in-law’s New York City apartment. The December 13, 1984 second session took place at my rented cottage home in Washington, CT.
One other point. Frankie and I are the dominant voices in this last segment. You’ll also hear my landlord, Jack Jackson, and my then-wife, Claudia.
I’ve cleaned up the sound from the original audio cassettes with compression, and also noise reduction, to minimize tape hiss. Now and then there are sound hiccups. Otherwise the sound is intact. The taping starts and stops are not seamless. Our conversation does not flow undetected from one side of a tape to the next, or from one tape to another tape. While interviewing, I tried to keep my eye on the time, but didn’t always succeed.
However, where Frankie was making an important or interesting point and a tape abruptly ended, we picked up the point when the next tape started rolling.
There are seven approximately 45-minute sessions in total, roughly three-and-a-half 90-minute tapes.
I will give each session a full listen before uploading them, and provide topic highlights — an index — for listeners.
I believe this is the only taped interview with Frankie Dunlop in existence. Since 1984 no other taped interviews have surfaced. For that reason I would like to make these tapes available to the public for posterity. Especially for drummers and music historians.
I’m happy to answer questions. The best way to contact me is through my SKFBlog.