Donny McCaslin

Donny McCaslin


Still riding the massive spurt of creativity he uncovered on David Bowie’s Blackstar, the saxophonist channels a similar gritty spirit on Blow. Mark Guiliana, Zach Danziger, and Nate Wood share drumming duties on what is largely a rock record, bringing their kinetic, madly inventive drumming to the music when it allows. Nate Wood’s lo-fi drums in “New Kindness” recall a shortwave transmission of sputtering beats. “Exactly four minutes of improvised music” opens with a complex ten-second solo drum groove from Danziger that will send drummers to their transcribing machines. “Beast” percolates on a patented NYC jungle groove via Guiliana, all locomotion and smoke; Mark rips further on “Tempest,” which recalls Soundgarden by way of a punk-rock bonfi re. All in all, some amazing, state-of-the-art creative fusion drumming framed in rock songs with open space to burn. (

Ken Micallef


The Pineapple Thief

The Pineapple Thief


GAVIN HARRISON returns for another round of bright ideas and faultless drumming.

For his second outing with English modern progressive group the Pineapple Thief, and this time collaborating on writing sessions with leader/vocalist Bruce Soord from the jump, Gavin Harrison again delivers his trademark perfectly executed drum parts and lifts the proceedings to new heights. Everything Harrison touches seems to turn to gold; the record features great production, a weighty and clear kit sound, and inventive drum patterns that cradle the vocals but never descend into predictability. Check out “Threatening War” for a slick, syncopated sidestick beat in the verses that opens up into a double-time section where Harrison adds tasty toms without deviating from the insistent pulse. Then he throws in an intricate 7/4 groove that itself builds dynamically into the song’s big climax. Later, dig on the eleven-minute, multipart “White Mist” for some  of the drummer’s subtle ghosting work and ride cymbal propulsion under a guitar solo. Technically beautiful performances aside, it’s Harrison’s undeniable feel that makes him the guy for this genre of rock. (Kscope)

Ilya Stemkovsky



Antonio Sanchez

Antonio Sanchez & Migration

Lines in the Sand

Like his 2017 drum-solo-meets-electronics watershed, Bad Hombre, Antonio Sanchez’s latest release is a passionate protest.

An artist who emigrated to the United States from Mexico, Antonio Sanchez focuses on President Donald Trump’s immigration policies on his new recording. Expanding upon his previous disc, Bad Hombre, Sanchez’s quintet, Migration, create a canvas marked by epic-length cinematic compositions. The centerpiece, “Bad Hombres y Mujeres,”  references the previous disc’s title track with its stuttering, syncopated bass line enhanced by Sanchez’s dazzling groove/ soloing featuring myriad kit textures and ultra-syncopated beat displacements and subdivisions. Migration adds layers of harrowing rapid runs above it, doubled by wordless vocals. In contrast, “Home” lingers in an eerie calm while “Long Road” exudes strife with an aching buildup guided by Sanchez’s fractured, ultra-slow groove. And the title track, peppered with snippets of spoken poetry, eventually bursts into a furious rocked-out assault. The eclectic, dazzlingly performed future-fusion compositions are heady in their complexity. But foremost, the album is a righteous gut-punch. (CAM Jazz)

Jeff Potter



Time Manipulation

Time/Manipulation by Alain Rieder

Originally published in 1992, this classic method book garnered praise from top drummers and educators. Now the author has updated it with additional exercises and online audio examples.

Designed to develop coordination in a groove context, Time/ Manipulation features an open format that favors exploration. The bulk of the exercises consist of sets of one-bar beats, where a simple groove builds in complexity. What’s special is the relationship between the simple and complex grooves, and the related patterns in between them. They can be mixed and matched, ostinato ride patterns can be swapped in, bass drum phrasing can be altered, and more, allowing for a lot of creative exploration. The collection of phrases in both 4/4 and 12/8 develops a solid foundation in groove, along a spectrum from simple to complex.

Later there are sections that delve into 4:3 and 3:2 polyrhythms, ideas like three-bar patterns, beat displacement, and more. Each of these more advanced concepts quickly brings things back to how they might function within a groove. Such an approach works to strengthen rhythmic awareness, leading to a deeper overall understanding. A welcome update to a classic, Time/Manipulation remains an excellent single-book introduction to these concepts. The open format sparks ideas and creativity while getting a drummer thinking about new ideas. Fun, inspiring, and educational. ($38.58,

Martin Patmos