Ray Appleton: A Marvelous Blues Shuffle

SKF NOTE: Listening today to Willie Nelson’s version of the song Outskirts of Town, had me thinking of that song on one of favorite albums ever. Jimmy Witherspoon’s Blues is Now remains among my top blues albums — with superb musicians and superb singing from Jimmy Witherspoon.

The drummer on Blues Is Now is Ray Appleton. Here’s a first-class blues shuffle version of the classic Good Rockin’ Tonight. Appleton and the entire band nail this one.

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Elvin with John Coltrane – Belgium 1965 (Full Performance)

SKF NOTE: Thank you, Eric Ross, for posting this whole set chance to see and hear Elvin Jones with the classic John Coltrane Quartet.

It’s curious that for set’s last song, My Favorite Things, Elvin switches to a larger floor tom.


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My Heart Attack


My heart attack
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • May 10, 2019

To park on the street I turned my car steering wheel right and felt a new chest pain. “Heart,” was my first instinct. But, since I have never had heart problems, I considered other possibilities like indigestion.

By nightfall my chest pain subsided or stopped. I slept until 4:01 AM when my chest hurt again. I went downstairs, showered, dried myself and sat on our couch.

The chest pain remained.

I awakened Eileen who was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Eileen suspected I was having a heart attack. She checked my vitals and called the volunteer Turner Maine Fire Department Rescue.

I washed down two chewed aspirin with water. Then a pair of Turner Rescue Paramedics were escorting me from living room to ambulance. I laid back on a gurney/stretcher. They wired me to an EKG machine, inserting an IV in my right arm. One Paramedic radioed Central Maine Medical Center’s Emergency Room with information needed for my arrival.

Then we hit the road, Eileen following in her Honda.

Full story

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The Day Krupa Fired Gerry Mulligan

SKF NOTE: Gerry Mulligan wrote some great arrangements for Gene Krupa’s big band. Lemon Drop and Leave Us Leap come first to mind. I never met Mr. Mulligan, but from many accounts I’ve read, in addition to his talent as a baritone saxophonist and arranger, he could be a hot head.

This story from Nat Hentoff’s book,Jazz Is (Discus Printing, 1978), supports Mulligan’s “hot head” reputation. It also shows his seriousness as a musician, and how not to criticize a bandleader or your fellow band members.

Kudos to Krupa for rising to Mulligan’s musical challenge. I’m guessing it hurt Krupa, at least musically, to fire Mulligan.


[W]hile Mulligan was with Gene Krupa…the band had been working and traveling frenetically, and its playing in Mulligan’s opinion had become shoddy.

One night, at the end of a set, Mulligan rose and, in plain hearing of the audience, upbraided the band in general and then Krupa in particular for his inability or unwillingness to set higher standards.

“I told them all to go to hell,” Mulligan recalls.

At the meeting of the band next day, Krupa lit into the band first, and then into Mulligan for inexcusable behavior in public. Krupa proceeded to fire Mulligan, but he did not hold a grudge against his former employee.

“I had to admire that guy,” Krupa said a few years later. “You get too much obsequiousness in this business. There was no obsequiousness in [Mulligan], which I dug.”

Source: Nat Hentoff, Jazz Is, (Discus Printing 1978)

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Max Roach – The Quarter Note is Basic

SKF NOTE: For a time, as a lesson in what real life speaking looks like on paper, I transcribed my drummer interviews and included every stammer, stutter, unfinished sentence, and incomplete thought. The result was an accurate transcription of my tapes; interesting for me to study and sorely in need of editing before it was ready for publishing in Modern Drummer magazine.

I always mailed drummers a hard copy of their interviews as they were to appear in MD, giving drummers a last chance to correct any errors, or to add clarification to a point made in the interview.

But I mailed Max Roach a copy of his unedited transcript. While I was in my MD office editing Max’s transcript, he called me, alarmed that some of his answers, as they appeared on paper unedited, sounded like “scrambled eggs.”

Max had gone through the full transcription, making edits and writing new answers to replace some answers he gave during the interview.

For a few minutes, my interview of a lifetime with Max Roach was disappearing through Max’s edits. He had read “scrambled eggs” versions of paragraphs and simply wanted them cut, left out of the interview.

I forgot I had the tape rolling when Max and I were working on his interview edits. In the end, I was able to explain to Max the transcript I mailed him was already being edited, and I probably should have sent him my edited manuscript before sending the unedited transcript.

In the end, Max’s interview worked out very well. And that was my last time sending someone an unedited interview transcription prior to sending the edited interview as it would appear in Modern Drummer.

Max also gave some good new answers and explanations during our manuscript editing phone conversation. The excerpt I include here is Max talking about the primacy of the quarter note. His original remarks — edited — are posted on my blog here.

But, I thought you would like to hear Max in his own words.

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Max Roach – The Onus is Always on the Rhythm Section

SKF NOTE: Interviewing Max Roach on July 15, 1981 in his Connecticut home was, and is, one of my life’s highlights. Hearing Gene Krupa ignited my lifelong love of drumming. Hearing Max Roach for the first time gave my drumming direction. Max’s melodic drumming at first gave me a style to emulate, and later to use in developing my own voice.

After transcribing my Roach interview tapes I mailed the transcript to Max — a story in itself I’ll save for another time — Max called my at Modern Drummer with changes he wanted to make in the transcript.

In this excerpt from our phone conversation, Max and I are talking about part of the interview where he describes his desire early in his career to go beyond his role as a pioneer Bebop drummer. Listeners will hear Max Roach in this excerpt talk about his conviction that, far from being less than their melodic instrument counterparts, it is the rhythm section that defines all musical styles.

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Larry Graham Creates Bass/Snare Drums Bass Guitar Style

SKF NOTE: His distinct, revolutionary, much imitated bass playing, Larry Graham tells the interviewer, is Graham imitating a bass drum and a snare drum. That bass style help land Graham his gig with Sly and the Family Stone.

“After we didn’t have drums…I kind of missed having that backbeat,” says Graham. “I started thumping to make up for not having a bass drum.” He “compensated for the snare drum” by “a little thumping and plucking.”


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