What Ever Happened To Individuality?

There was a time when most drum set drummers you heard had their own, identifiable sound. And by sound I mean both the actual sound of their drums and cymbals, and the sound of their playing style. It was easy to hear a new recording and identify the drummer by their sound
Jazz drummers certainly had their own sound. You could tell Tony Williams' ride cymbal from Buddy Rich's, or Gene Krupa's toms from Max Roach's. Rock drummers had their own identities too. Bill Buford's snare drum was always identifiable, as was Phil Collins' concert toms. Mick Fleetwood always had that very muffled drum sound, and no matter what brand of drums Neil Peart decided to play, he always sounded like Neil Peart.
Trending Today
Today, things are much more homogenous. And not just at the major pro level, but at the local level too. There just seems to be a general inclination towards sameness. This is due to multiple trends.
One trend is that young drum students don't seem to have …

The Thing About Endorsements…

Too many drummers think endorsements are some sort of ‘trophy’ signifying they 'made it.' Well, not quite. I have some endorsements for gear I play, but I don't for others. I 'made it' to a certain point before the endorsements, but the endorsements haven't made me any better as a player, or more famous. That’s all up to me.

Drummers need to know that an endorsement is a ‘two way’ relationship: you need to give back to the company you endorse. I do this various ways:

1) I talk about the gear I use because I really love it and it works for me.
2) I try to feature endorsed gear in promotional photos and mention it in interviews.
3) I always try to play my own gear, unless it’s a situation where I must play rental gear of a different brand.
4) Did I mention that I talk about the gear I use because I really love it?

#1 & 4 are really key. The endorsements that I have are for gear that I had already been playing for years! And I had been promoting on my own because I …

“What Kind Of Music Do You Play?”

People often ask me how I classify my solo percussion music, or even the music I play in ad hoc groups. I tend to think of it as contemporary classical music. This usually elicits startled looks. “But you improvise a lot. Isn't that jazz?” My response is, “Jazz is based on swing, the ding-ding-a-ding cymbal pattern. I don't swing. My music is based more on hierarchies of energy that I push forward, and different levels of meter & pulse.”


Swing. That brings up ideas of Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa. The ride cymbal and hi-hats are king. I don't use either. Swing is great. I often play it when I'm using a traditional drum set. But for my own music, I don't.

Gene Krupa, the king of swing
European Echoes
My own style comes more out of the European improvisers, who unlike their American counterparts, didn't use jazz & swing as a basis for their music. People like Jamie Muir, Frank Perry, Eddie Prévost, Le Quan …

Living In A Golden Age

OK, I'm back…

I'll try not to sound like the old man here, but younger drummers often don't realize how good they have it when it comes to studying and learning drums. Back in my day (yeah, I'm that old), when I was a young aspiring drummer, I had school band, private drum lessons, and once in a while was able to see a live band. That was it. That's all I had to learn drums from.

Today, the choices are much broader and more accessible. Besides school band and private lessons, there are:

Drum videos/DVDs/downloads
Cable/satellite TV
Hundreds of books
Bazzilions of recordings
And that window to the world, the internet

As both a teacher, and an ongoing student (I will always be a student), I take advantage of all the above. It's amazing how much information is out there. If I want to see a video of X drummer, I can probably find one, or more. How do you do that Moeller Stroke? There's all sorts of videos on the web shot at every possible angle. Fantastic!

But t…

In Praise of Anniversaries!

On March 10, 2011, I tentatively put out the 1st blog post of Percussion Deconstruction™. I had no real plan except to talk about something I knew and loved deeply: percussion. I wanted to tackle the subjects the often were ignored, or fell through the cracks in other writing about percussion. I've always been a sort of rebel/misfit in my musical and artistic life, so the blog carries on with those same ideas. 

The 1st post was entitled, The Death of the Drum Set. Upon rereading it, I still feel much the same way. While there are some true innovators out there, too much of what I hear is just the same old drumming recycled over and over. Trust me, I'm not anti drum set. I'm just bored with so many people taking the easy road and copying their heroes, instead of finding their own creative path.
If you were to take a look at my iTunes music playlist, you would see heavy doses of both '60s pop music, and '70s hard rock. While I love listening to both, I don't aspire…

Life, And Percussion, Both Go On

Sooooooo, it's been a bit over 5 months since I've posted anything here. After 263 (!) posts and nearly 7 years, a lot of things happened. My life got busier and changed course a few times. I had/have weird health issues which have basically put my life on hold the past 3+ months. I had a lot of ideas I was working on, but somehow couldn't complete. My, “I'll finish it tomorrow,” became next week, next month, and soon, next year. 

Writing a blog isn't easy. It takes a lot of time, effort, and you need to keep coming up with ideas. And the over achieving writer that I am, I had 3 blogs. I eventually retired 1, but then started another (don't ask why). So these 3 blogs have constantly tugged at my pants leg, like pets insisting on being fed all the time. 

Something had to give

That something was this blog, which just kept moving further out of reach, until I needed a telescope to even locate it on the distant horizon. But I never meant to let it go (really). It just…

3 Free Improvisation Albums for Free

Self promotion time here:

In July of 2015 I hauled out my huge percussion set up to record a trio album at my friend Jason Wietlispach's studio. A few months later, Jason contacted me with a crazy idea, “What if you brought you whole set up here and we invited a bunch of people to come in and play some duets with you?” I was intrigued and said, “Yes!”

So the call was put out on Facebook, asking if any musicians were interested in being a part of the project. Each person would be assigned a 30 minute time slot where they would come in, set up, improvise with me, and then pack up and go, letting the next person repeat things. Within a short time, we had our list of musicians. What really interested me was that I only knew a few of the musicians, and I had actually played with only a couple of them. So this would be an interesting musical challenge to meet and create with a revolving cast of players.

Jason setting up mics on my extended set up.
Finally, one November morning, I hauled all…