As the album-opening “Block Party” heats up into a joyous gospel jump, Marcus Baylor romps all around the handclaps, then solos over the out-vamp, multiplying and subdividing the beat while never losing focus. The versatile drummer also shines while energizing the well-traveled “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” channeling Elvin Jones on “Afro Blue,” and ad-libbing on the free-form “Journey.” But even on vocal tunes like a jazz-flavored take on “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” a super-chill “Summertime,” or Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Story,” with lyrics by Marcus’s wife, singer Jean Baylor, the drummer urges a more quiet, equally effective intensity from his kit, picking his spots gracefully and taking full musical advantage.
(Be a Light) Robin Tolleson
Rudy Royston Trio Rise of Orion
The drummer’s star keeps on rising via ongoing stints with high-profile progressive jazz artists like Bill Frisell, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Dave Douglas—and also on his solo releases, like this one, his second.
There’s a splendid touch in Rudy Royston’s powerful, swinging, and assertive drumming. Royston supports soloists but definitely likes to stir things up with his whirlwind nouveau-Elvin-isms. This intense outing is markedly different from Royston’s 2014 debut, 303, which featured a septet (with two bassists) playing finely wrought ensemble arrangements. Here Rudy strips down the canvas to a drums/bass/sax trio, resulting in a raw, wide-open set of his originals that’s all about adventurous interplay. The selections are punctuated by short interludes of dive-right-in blowing, including the incendiary drum solo “Mintaka.” With tenor/soprano saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Yasushi Nakamura again on board (both performed on 303), Royston has likeminded comrades who are game for taking chances. And the risks definitely pay off.
(Greenleaf Music) Jeff Potter
Other Drummer-Leds to Check Out
Bob Holz Visions & Friends /// Gerry Gibbs & the Thrasher People Weather or Not /// Marito Marques Na Eira /// Sallaberry Origem
Yotam Silberstein The Village
World jazz from New York’s finest, with top-shelf drumming as the centerpiece.
Israeli-born but now New York–based guitarist Yotam Silberstein has assembled a who’s who of brilliant jazz players for his new record, including pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and the excellent GREGORY HUTCHINSON on drums. Hutchinson works his snare with fluttery singles on the Brazilian “Parabens” before soloing with ride-bell offbeats and well-placed tom jabs. Later, on the title track, he gently paints on his ride before the rhythm takes shape, and suddenly the band is off on an up-tempo swing that’s seriously cooking. Hutchinson’s touch is of the light variety, but he generates excitement with his command from inside the music. Check out the killer triplet vibe on “Albayzin,” where the drums propel everything forward with spark after spark and Hutchinson even dispenses with the traditional cymbal accompaniment underneath the top of the piano solo, instead using space and his drums to allow things to breathe. Gorgeous stuff.
(Jazz&People) Ilya Stemkovsky
Yuri Juárez Guitar Sapiens
The merger of Afro-Peruvian rhythms and styles with jazz is an increasingly fertile forum; guitarist Juárez makes a notable contribution with this highly ambitious double disc.
While Yuri Juárez’s superb previous release, Afroperuano, highlighted his nylon string and electric guitar artistry, Guitar Sapiens further portrays the artist as a formidable arranger and composer in settings spanning orchestral to small ensembles and duets. Juárez has wisely tapped the impressive talents of Peruvian drumkit and cajon player HUGO ALCÁZAR (who also graced Afroperuano). Drummer SHIRAZETTE TINNIN turns in three fine tracks as well. Embracing the flowing phrasing of jazz, Alcázar pilots compositions drawing from multiple South American sources, contemporary jazz (from straight-ahead to progressive), and classical. Breaking down borders, he infuses world sounds with the distinct loping phrasing (check out “Gitanos y Criollos”) and invigorating rhythms of his homeland. A big-hearted album bursting with lyricism and transporting rhythms.
(yurijuarez.net) Jeff Potter
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
by Woody Woodmansey
An early Bowie accomplice sheds light on the origins of some of glam rock’s masterpieces.
Woody Woodmansey’s drumming on David Bowie’s unparalleled early quartet of albums, The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and Aladdin Sane, helped define the loose, tough swagger of glam rock. This clear and unadorned memoir relates the rapid rise of the Spiders’ modest club days to the insanity surrounding the final tour dates behind Aladdin Sane. While Woodmansey did not have an intimate relationship with Bowie and was fired unceremoniously before the recording of Pin Ups, the two were tremendous creative partners. Passages describing the breakneck pace of the studio sessions reveal the wide latitude the drummer was given in the studio to build those iconic beats (Bowie rarely played more than two takes). Lucid descriptions of the drum arrangements to hit songs like “Changes” and “Life on Mars?” will be enlightening to students of studio drumming. (St. Martin’s Press) John Colpitts
Rock Drumming: 50 Tasty Chops ’n’ Licks
by Geoff Battersby
A detailed set of rock beats and fills to whip out at your next gig.
This book presents lots of examples of conventional rock drumming patterns (“chops”), with some slick fills thrown into the mix (“licks”). Author Geoff Battersby includes five play-along pieces that contain a wealth of cool beats, which he proceeds to break down to their fundamental essence. Those include the usual building blocks of paradiddles, seven-stroke rolls, and flams, but seeing it all on the printed page while listening to the accompanying audio CDs makes for an easier and more organized practice session. Featured is the “Bonham Triplet Chop” and the “Swiss Army Triplet Lick,” along with a bunch of fun linear beats with ghost notes, so things get tricky and more advanced quickly. There’s an almost overwhelming amount of information here, so it’s probably wise to focus on just one fill that you like at a time, and use the step-by-step breakdown to construct it as is or add your own flavor. The two CDs also include no-drums play-along tracks. (£15, amazon.com, chopsnlicks.com) Ilya Stemkovsky
The High Paid Musician Myth by John O.Reilly
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra drummer focuses on the business of music in this no-holds-barred book.
John O.Reilly tells it from the heart in The High Paid Musician Myth, as he sounds the alarm on the state of the music industry and stresses the need to establish alternate sources of income. With recent changes in our industry as a backdrop, O.Reilly sets out to encourage all musicians to start a business of their own in order to create another source of income to sustain them when the gigs dry up or they age out of the game. “Sometimes we all need a swift kick in the ass to put our heads on straight and take the blinders off,” O.Reilly says, challenging readers to diversify their efforts while pursuing careers in music. From discussion on exploiting the internet to determining your perceived value to obtaining life insurance, the author covers a lot in a relatively short space. ($10, johnoreillylive.com) H. Aaron Strickland