Early 90's cheese! Retro re-wind

I've put my progressive rock band Tocatta's MP3 files online for fun.  Call it reaching into my 20's from my 40's, but it's at least funny to listen to how pretentious our lyrics were.  Man, Mark was a wicked rock lead player...

Go to the download page


Grizzly Bear

My brother Mark has turned me on to Grizzly Bear, specifically the Veckatimest album.  So far, I've been connecting with the first three songs strongly.  At first listen I didn't really think they were all that good - we saw them live at a Radiohead concert and the mix was terrible.  But after hearing him tell me "it's replaced radiohead in my headphones" I gave it another listen.

The drummer is doing some crazy stuff, and you'd miss it if you didn't listen closely.  There is so much layering (something that the singer discussed when finding out the album was ripped off before release, and the layering wasn't completely added to the mix), it's almost like listening to an early Yes album or even Gentle Giant (there's going back to the cheesy 70's for you).

If you're into progressive rock, you should probably give these guys a listen.


Bill Cosby, Jazz Drummer

Here is a hilarious video from the Dick Cavett show, February 21, 1973. Classic Cosby.


New artist - Diane Birch

I just got the release of Diane Birch's Bible Belt and really enjoyed it.  Raised by a internationally traveling preacher, she has the soul of a much older generation. Her music sounds like a cross between 60's orchestra-led Motown pop combined with a more personal, close mic'ed songwriting style.  

The orchestrations are very nice, and she's just great when she's sitting at the piano and playing / signing.


Hickory or Maple?

So, apparently I've gone through my jazz life unaware of the difference in sticks, except maybe 7a -vs- 2b.  Years ago, my mentor and teacher Martin Bradfield used to sell me these great sticks that weighed almost nothing, were lathed with nice ridges on the butt, and just flew.  They were Maple, as far as I can tell, because when I played "2 minutes to midnight" or "War Pigs" they had the effect of just disintegrating.

Spin 20, no 25 years later.  Martin sent me a book he wrote in the 90's called "Drumming: The Forest and the Trees."  If you're a drummer, you should probably contact Martin at and get a copy.  He has a great set of stories and philosophical statements around the essence of drumming, what he feels is the role of a drummer, etc...

In one of the passages he questions any drummer who doesn't consider what sticks they are playing, and whether they match with the style of music, etc...  He asks why a jazz drummer wouldn't consider using maple, a lighter and less strong wood, as a choice for drumsticks over the traditional hickory.  So, I ran over to the local Guitar Center and picked up a few pairs of maple Pro Mark sticks (not in front of me right now) and boy is he right.

For the longest time, I was thinking my technique was OK and that the sound coming from my drums was in need of better tuning, heads, drums, etc...  Well, of course I was wrong.  Eventually I came to terms with the fact that to be a good Jazz drummer, you have to internalize Jazz, and technique isn't the end goal, it's merely the platform (like language for a writer).

I'll have to see how the stick conversion goes.  It does seem to lend me a lighter touch, and maybe it will help me to be more expressive and play softer than hickory sticks allow.  More later.