Chick Corea Trio Trilogy 2
Jeff Denson Between Two Worlds
Two new releases feature a fiery and involved Brian Blade.
Chick Corea formed and documented his incredible trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade several years ago, and now the group returns with Trilogy 2, a new double live disc culled from 2016 concerts showcasing yet more magic and fireworks from three of the jazz world’s best. Blade has always had big ears and a conversational knack for speaking or listening in the right moments, and here he continues his repartee with his bandmates while swinging his behind off.Blade brilliantly comments on the time because everyone’s pulse is so developed, and switches from sticks to brushes so seamlessly, you don’t even notice. Dig the way he brings the band back in after McBride’s solo in “How Deep Is the Ocean” with an outrageous 32nd-note, over-the-barline tom fill and a trio of crashes that’s pure bliss, followed by a bass drum heavy solo as dramatic as it is musical. There are a million notes coming from the drums on a masterful “All Blues,” and not one is out of place. The recording quality is also immaculate. (Concord)
Bassist Jeff Denson’s music is of the modern post-bop variety, and along with Blade and French guitarist Romain Pilon, the trio navigates the complex yet open compositions of Between Two Worlds with sensitivity. This is chiller stuff, and Blade grooves through the head of “Sucré,” gently moving from hats to ride, accenting the tune’s syncopations with a gentle touch. The drummer opens “Listen Up” with an unaccompanied solo of kick-and-snare interplay before moving into uptempo swing territory, while the title track receives the softest mallets and his unmistakably understated comping underneath Denson’s bowed upright solo. (Ridgeway)
Whether Blade appears on a lesser-known artist’s recording or on larger stages with jazz legends, he never fails to sound totally committed and always in the moment. Ilya Stemkovsky
Car Bomb Mordial
Comparisons to big-name progressive drummers might be inevitable, but ELLIOT HOFFMAN’s performance here more than stands on its own.
Long Island’s Car Bomb, who’ve toured with Animals as Leaders and headlined Euroblast Festival for Progressive Music in Germany, are highly regarded among the prog and tech-metal crowds for their unrelenting brutality, shifting time signatures, and utter disregard for convention. Accordingly, Mordial leads with the deceptively dulcet “Start,” which consists of forty-four seconds of digital soundscape and clean guitar arpeggios—then smashes you in the face with the pummeling “Fade Out.” Drummer Elliot Hoffman steers the careening ship here, and is in total control of the seeming chaos at all times. It’s a rare breed of technical player who can navigate material with near-constant time feel and tempo shifts and still somehow make the music groove. Hoffman’s huge, natural drum tones, powerful and precise double bass playing on “Vague Skies,” shredding fills in the outro of “Scattered Sprites,” and shifting metric madness in the choruses of “Hela” stand out, though each track twists the mind with equal fervor. The masterful execution of this complex and shifting material is truly something to behold. (Holy Roar) Ben Meyer
TAKING THE REINS
Samuel Torres Alegría
Another ambitious winner from the dynamic Bogotá-born, New York–based percussionist.
Alegría means “joy,” and this disc certainly delivers. Conguero/multipercussionist Samuel Torres proved his sideman prowess with Arturo Sandoval, Tito Puente, and Chick Corea, among others. But his own albums as a leader have proved him to be a formidable composer/ arranger as well. Whereas his previous exploratory release, Forced Displacement, addressed the troubled politics of his native Colombia, this sunny fifth outing points Torres towards his roots, leading a thrilling ten-piece band through compositions that are hip and challenging, yet thoroughly danceable.
In addition to his conga mastery, Torres handles bongos, cajon, talking drum, djembe, and other instruments in a tight propulsive union with drumkit player Pablo Bencid. The Venezuela-born Bencid lends an intense, funky edge to the hybrid grooves, as on the killer alt-Afro 6/8 drive of “The Strength to Love” and his fiery solo over an angular comp in “Baretto Power.” Torres’ conga playing and compositional concepts integrate myriad world grooves into his borderless brand of Latin jazz, including rhythms of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, and Africa as well as boogaloo from the New York City barrios. Though the tunes take surprising left turns with their grooves and harmonies, Torres never veers far from his central destination: “alegría.” (Blue Conga) Jeff Potter
Dave Schoepke Drums on Low
Organic and thoughtful, pulsing and contemplative, the drummer creates unique solo drum pieces on his debut solo album.
A professional and touring drummer from the Milwaukee area, Dave Schoepke combines composition and improvisation throughout Drums on Low. Played and recorded without overdubs, this percussive music possesses an honesty and immediacy that emphasize the full resonant tones of the drums. Each piece explores its own set of ideas and themes, developing and building a sound world while providing both continuity and diversity.
The full, deep bass tones of “War of the Grasshoppers” open the album, setting a mood, followed by “Which One Are You,” which emphasizes the relationship of a snares-off drum and toms, building off a core phrase. Pieces featuring snare drums, experiments in open/muted tom tuning, bell tones, and varying rhythmic motifs fill the album, demonstrating the limitlessness of drums and percussion. While some moments build a rhythmic energy, Schoepke is equally comfortable examining sound and texture. Considering the underlying thematic ideas, Shoepke displays sensitivity, inventiveness, and thoughtful development throughout, creating a worthwhile and inspiring listen. (daveschoepke.com) Martin Patmos
The Musician’s Lifeline
by Peter Erskine and Dave Black
Master drummers and educators Peter Erskine and Dave Black have produced a follow-up to their 2017 book The Drummer’s Lifeline that broadens the target audience to all musicians.
By asking a huge array of their friends and colleagues to contribute thoughts on a number of broad topics related to the business and vocation of music, the authors have compiled a textual manifestation of the careering, stimulating, and occasionally bewildering facets of a life in music. While the book has a few targeted essays, it’s largely a collection of aphorisms and words of advice presented in many different fonts from the authors’ heavy friends. Despite contradictory advice sometimes appearing on the same page (the authors are careful to note this in their introduction), the book is full of the sometimes counterintuitive guidance that accompanies any kind of trade or spiritual practice. Just about every page yields at the very least intuitive insights, and more often crucial guidance for the practicing or aspiring musician. (Alfred) Jon Colpitts
Advanced Drumming Coordination: A Comprehensive Guide to Four-Way Independence by Ray Rojo
Beginners should keep walking, but advanced players will find much to challenge themselves with here.
Los Angeles–based educator Ray Rojo’s new book on four-way independence isn’t the first tome to tackle the subject, but in his introduction, he writes about his intention to shift students’ perspective from “independent limbs” to “limbs playing different rhythms together.” This is key, because unlike many other texts, Advanced Drumming Coordination simplifies the examples by primarily using a two-line staff that cleans up the relationship between your hands and feet and is generally easier to read.
Here, though, “easier” is relative, and you’re thrust early on into 15/8 and 21/8 time signatures and breaking up limbs into different patterns. The book continues into polyrhythms and moves into chapters on improvising over ostinatos, and single-limbed and two-limbed soloing. So it’s simultaneously a coordination book and a book that’s good for sight-reading practice. And with chapters like “Different Subdivisions of Nested Tuplets,” this is certainly not for beginners, and you can spend years on just a couple of its pages.
As always with books covering complex drumming concepts, the object is for students to use the material as a springboard, develop their own voice, and be musical on the kit. Rojo’s book should prove a welcome and challenging addition to any advanced player’s library. (amazon.com) Ilya Stemkovsky