Herlin Riley

Perpetual Optimism

A master serves up a marriage of straight-ahead swing and the funky grooves of his native New Orleans.

The title pretty much sums up the energy of Herlin Riley’s drumming. And you can add to that “perpetual youth.” The veteran jazz drummer returns with the four superb young sidemen who excelled on his previous disc, New Direction: pianist Emmet Cohen, bassist Russell Hall, alto saxophonist Godwin Louis, and trumpeter Bruce Harris. Riley composed half of the disc’s ten tracks, showcasing a penchant for melody, surprise left turns, fun oddmeter dalliances, and plenty of feel-good grooves. The charged opener, “Rush Hour,” says it all with its funky/swing hybrid feel peppered with church-inspired handclaps and tambourine. On “Borders Without Lines” the drummer’s exhilarating up-tempo swing chops rule supreme. And his killin’ mid-tune extended solo, played over a popping ostinato, will hasten you to hit “replay.” (Mack Avenue) Jeff Potter


Branford Marsalis

The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

At twenty-eight years old, JUSTIN FAULKNER has commanded the drum chair in Branford Marsalis’s quartet for nearly a decade—and continues to astound on the group’s new release.

After masterfully toying with the cartoonish cadence of album opener “Dance of the Evil Toys,” Justin Faulkner goes into warp drive on “Conversation Among the Ruins,” taking the band on a swinging, breathtaking ride as he colors beautifully and shows an inventive and unbound brush style. Later, on the cha-cha-cha “Cianna,” he punctuates off -beats with splashes of cymbals, press rolls, and toms. Next up, bassist Eric Revis’s composition “Nilaste” becomes a rhythmic free-for-all-for-one, with Faulkner constantly subdividing, energizing, creating while reacting, inspiring. He pauses to begin fresh with Joey Calderazzo’s piano solo, cymbals simmering, before turning on all the jets, interpreting and composing at an amazing pace. He guides the current without playing the time, filling the right spaces and creating traction. Jousting with saxman/leader Marsalis throughout The Secret…, Faulkner is collaborative and daring in all the best ways. (OKeh) Robin Tolleson


Michel Petrucciani Trio

One Night in Karlsruhe

Roy Haynes blazes in a well-matched virtuosic trio.

Any previously unreleased material featuring the Greatest Living Elder Statesman of Jazz Drumming is a gift. And this one’s a pearl. Featuring the late pianist Michel Petrucciani, bassist Gary Peacock, and Haynes, this July 1988 concert from Germany is a rocket-fueled affair: up-tempos dominate. Petrucciani is aggressive, precise, and hard swinging, as is Haynes. A highlight is “There Will Never Be Another You,” on which Haynes galvanizes with his clean popping ride while accenting and interjecting ideas in all the right places. After trading eights with Petrucciani, he intensely launches the trio into a fi reworks finale. In contrast, Petrucciani lingers elegantly on the melody of “In a Sentimental Mood,” and Haynes’ graceful brushes answer in kind. This super trio had only previously been heard on half of the tracks from Michel Plays Petrucciani (1988), making this late arrival a welcome addition to Haynes’ glorious discography. (SWR Jazzhaus) Jeff Potter



Vinnie Colaiuta and Steve Gadd

Randy Waldman


More masterful session work from VINNIE COLAIUTA plus some inspired meetings of the sticks with STEVE GADD.

Pianist Randy Waldman has previously released jazzified albums of classical music and TV themes where he let Vinnie Colaiuta loose beyond measure, and here he brings back Mr. C to put his stamp on a collection of superhero-related material. Colaiuta has an exceptional knack for sounding spontaneous and in the moment, even when he’s likely reading a chart that takes up two music stands. On “Superman (Movie),” Colaiuta tackles the thoroughly arranged head with unobtrusive sidesticking and well-placed stops, before swinging at different tempos underneath lovely George Benson solos. And the wild but totally in control drum break onslaught ending “Batman Theme (TV)” could only come from Vinnie’s unique brain and limbs. An extra treat comes in the form of three tracks that include Steve Gadd double drumming with Colaiuta. “Both drumkits were set up facing each other,” writes Waldman in the liner notes, “and it was a love-fest from the

very first note they played together.” Cue up “Six Million Dollar Man Theme” for a taste of the duo hoppingfrom Latin flavors to master-class solos over vamps and more. (BFM Jazz) Ilya Stemkovsky




Brazilian Grooves Play-Along

by Christiano Galvao

Newcomers to Brazilian drumset grooves could do worse than begin their journey here.

Christiano Galvao’s latest educational resource, Brazilian Grooves Play-Along, focuses on two popular Brazilian rhythms: samba and baiao. Typically it’s up to the bateria (percussion ensemble) to perform these rhythms, but Galvao’s book illustrates the ways a single drummer can distill them into a drumset. If Brazilian music were a spoken language, these drumset orchestrations would be foundational idioms—the equivalents of “How’re you doing” and “What’s going on.” According to the author, they’re a stepping-off point that should inspire new ideas.

Brazilian Grooves’ main asset is the arsenal of tools’ stored in the cloud and accessible by QR-codes that accompany the printed material. Galvao follows each new idiom with an original composition to which you can apply drumset orchestrations, an important, contextualizing step that method books often miss. There are videos of the idioms at fast and slow tempos, videos of the author performing the full tunes, and the audio tracks of all the songs at fast and slow tempos, with and without click tracks. A book has rarely made it so helpful to work up to performance tempo.

And Galvao plays the hell out of his charts in the supplemental videos, adding texture, color, and musicality to the foundational grooves. Unfortunately he doesn’t shed enough light on how he arrived there, or provide a path for discovering embellishments and variations of your own. One solution could have been to include things to avoid when breaking from the literal clave orchestrations. I’ve spent about a month shedding the book, and I’m now much more comfortable with basic Brazilian musical idioms. But I’m hardly “speaking” like a local yet. The next time a Brazilian musician asks me the musical equivalent of “How ya doin,” I might know what they’re asking, but I won’t necessarily have more of an idea how to respond in a way that would make them want to strike up a conversation. Perhaps Galvao will address that issue in a follow-up book; for now, this package can help you make important strides in the right direction. ($25, amazon.com) Keith Carne