After years of playing around the world with dozens of different artists and hundreds of sound guys, I’ve gathered up some helpful tips and hints in this article that will make sound checks go as smoothly as possible with minimal head-butting. My newest article for Drums Etc., The Sound Guy friendly Jazz Drummer, is now available online and in print. The online version can be found here:
Here’s a video of my opening solo from the clinic last September. I played around with Monk’s “Think of One” for about 10 minutes, going in and out of different feels, tempos, and textures. The point of this solo was to show how playing the melody and hinting at key melodic figures throughout can hopefully give the listener a certain sense of connection and familiarity, and in the end, something to latch on to. Often times drum solos become a wash of chops (which can be amazing), with no real direction. I was hoping to give the crowd a strong sense of the melody, without actually hearing the tune!
Here’s the original. Monk-Think of One 1954 Thelonious Monk(piano), Percy Heath(bass), Willie Jones(drums), Sonny Rollins(Tenor Sax)
I‘ll be hosting a clinic, presented by Jeff Asselin’s Drum Academy and Dave’s Drum Shop, on September 28, 2013. Come on down if you’re into drums, drumming, cool stuff from Sonor, Evans, Dream, and ProMark, and lots of fun. It is being held at Carleton University (A911 Loeb Building 1125 Colonel By Drive) from 7pm to 9pm.
I’ll also be a Ottawa’s Gigspace the night before, Friday 27th, with two of the cities finest, John Geggie and Mike Tremblay. Really looking forward to a great weekend of music in an even greater city.
Very sad to hear of the passing of drum great Ed Shaughnessy. His larger-than-life presence and monstrous swing will be sorely missed.
At the 1995 Montreal Drum Fest, Mr. Shaughnessy was a featured artist and needed a band to play with. The McGill Big Band was contacted to back him up, and, being a part of the band, I was to play a tune up front to warm them up for him. He approached me before the show with his big orange-tinted glasses, lamb chop sideburns, and gold chains and said these words:
“Kid. After your tune, you and I will do a duo thing. You know: Rich/Kruppa style. But remember. If you don’t play as good as me, I’ll by you a pizza afterwards. If you play better than me, I’ll break your arm.”
Needless to say, I played the show and left with both arms intact, and with an incredible feeling of being a part of something great. It was very generous of him to have included me in his show, but from what I understand, that’s just the kind of guy he was. R.I.P.
This past weekend I had the great honour of recording with Christine Jensen’s newest Big Band project. Two days of great music with a fantastic band, including her very talented sister, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, and husband Joel Miller (who recently won a Juno for his album, Swim) on tenor sax. Treelines-The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra on Justin-Time Records, won her the 2011 Juno Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year, so I was very happy to have been included in Christine’s newest project. We recorded at Studio Piccolo in Montreal with Paul Johnston as the engineer, and as expected, everything sounded amazing even before the record button was pressed.
I’ve played a lot of Big Band in the past 20 years, but this recording was a bit more challenging than other projects. Christine’s music is very melodic and textural with a lot of straight eighth feels, so instead of a hard hitting Big Band, I thought of the ensemble as more of a 17-piece quintet, if that makes sense. The band was so strong that I didn’t need to be there marking out the time like I usually do in an ensemble this size. I was able to leave a lot of space, use a ton of dynamics, and get really interactive within the sections. It was also a real treat to be able to play with Ingrid again, as well as Chet Doxas on tenor, Fraser Hollins on bass, and the rest of the usual suspects:)
Late fall is the expected release date. Stay tuned!