"People who make no noise are dangerous."
--Jean de La Fontaine

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cooperman Riq

I am currently preparing for a solo percussion recital. I will be posting several pictures over the next few days of the set ups and instrumentation I am using for this performance. The first piece on the recital is Merck’s Tattoo by B. Michael Williams. This is a challenging composition for solo riq. It is especially difficult for me because I have not been playing the riq for very long.  

I was practicing on a lesser quality instrument and really struggling to make all of the sounds. I really wanted to buy a new, professional quality riq but I could see spending $700 on an instrument I was not sure I could actually play. I bought a used Cooperman riq for $100 with the hopes that I had found a quality instrument.


I am not sure of all of the specifics of this instruments.  Honestly, I'm not even sure which model of riq I bought.  I believe it is an older model AIS Judy Piazza Riqq, but I'm not sure. The riq has a tunable plastic head which sounds great in the upper and lower range of the instrument. This instrument has made practice a lot more fun and it sounds so much better than the instrument I was using previously.   


  
The brass jingles are fine but I think I will invest in a slightly larger, hammered set of brass jingles. The jingles feel a little bit tight and I would like them to have a little more flex. I think swapping out the jingles for larger ones will help with this. I believe Cooperman has at least 3 options of jingles for this instrument. I will call Cooperman for more information when I get a little money together.  

I have used the instrument in small rooms and it sounded great. Next week, I will be using it in a much larger hall. I'm a little worried that it will not be loud enough. I'll keep you up to date.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crescent Cymbals -- Part 3

This final post (for now) about my new Crescent cymbals covers a couple of special cymbals I picked up. This first cymbal is a 16" Classic crash.  While this cymbal sounds fine as a drum set crash cymbal, I bought it specifically to use for orchestral percussion playing.  This cymbal has a great fast crash in addition to a lot of depth which makes it a great cymbal for all around playing.



This cymbal is a 16" Haptic china.  The Haptic series was developed by Jamie Haddad for use in percussion setups.  This cymbal is supposed to be struck with your hand and has an amazing sound when you do.  It also sounds great when struck with a stick or mallet.  I needed a small Chinese cymbal for a piece I have been working on and believe this cymbal is going to be perfect.  I would not recommend this cymbal if you are a heavy hitter.  It is light and will break if you take it on your metal gig.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crescent Cymbals -- Part 2

Part 2 of my Crescent Cymbal posts is about hi hats.  I can find great ride cymbals every time I go looking for cymbals but I have the hardest time finding a great set of hi hats.  Luckily, I found this first pair.  This pair of 14" Vintage hi hats is the pair I take on most jazz gigs.  They are very crisp and light but have a nice wash when needed.  I also find that for as light as they are, they have no trouble cutting through a louder band.  



This set of 14" Hammertone Series hats are my "middle of the road," hats.  They sound great in all situations but really work well in larger groups like a big band.  They have a great chick and plenty of depth so they really sound great in the studio.



I can't explain my fascination with 15" hats, but I can't seem to live without having a set.  I used to think that 15" hats were overkill. I think the secret is to find a light set. These 15" Classic hats fit that bill. They are light for a pair of 15" hats and being light helps gives this set that great 60s pop sound which makes them the perfect pop cymbals.  It takes time to get used to playing with such large hats, particularly if you tend to use your foot a lot, but once you do, I think you will find they are a must in your cymbal bag.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Crescent Cymbals -- Part 1

The Crescent Cymbal Company is a new boutique line of cymbals that uses an old world techniques to make some of the best sounding cymbals in the world.  If you've been reading this blog for while, you'll know that in the past I have had a love for Bosphorus cymbals. The new line at Crescent are those Bosphurs designs and cymbals, they just have a new name. The current Bosphorus cymbals you see may look the same but they are a different cymbal.  Anyway, I recently got a new selection of Crescent cymbals and am going to use the next few posts to discuss my new plates.

I am going to start with the rides.  I have more ride cymbals than any man should, but it's hard for me not to grab a good one when I hear it.  This first ride is a 20" Vintage ride with 3 rivets.  This ride is the best of both worlds as it is somehow very dry while also contains the perfect amount of wash.  I'm excited to have this as a new option for the left side ride.  You'll notice that the top rivet is slightly off center.  That was my idea (fault).  I have been experimenting with different rivet sizes, metals and placement.  I wanted to see if there was any difference in asymmetrical rivet placement.  I'm not sure my bad scientific method came up with any conclusive evidence but I will say that this cymbal sounds great so...



Oh mama...this is a beautiful cymbal.  This is a 20" Hammertone Series ride with 2 rivets.  The stick just dances on this cymbal.   It has a nice wash with plenty of stick definition.  I'm hoping that practicing with it will make me sound like Jeff Hamilton.  




This is a 20" Vanguard ride.  Most of my rides have rivets and this one was going to get a couple but for some reason I decided not to.  I'm glad I did.  This ride sounds amazing and I think it is going to be my go to ride for more blues/pop gigs.



This is my current every gig ride.  This is a 21" Vintage ride.  This ride has a sound that reminds me of Tony Williams even if the person playing it does not.  The shoulder crashes on this baby are amazing and the stick definition is incredible.  I only wish I had a woman in my life that was this beautiful.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

So...What is this?

I found this attachment while searching through some old parts today.  I am pretty sure I know what it is and who made it, but I don't want to say anything until I get an expert's opinion.  So, experts, what is this?


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Amazing Jimmi Mayes

Click Here to Order a Signed Copy
The Amazing Jimmi Mayes?  Who's that?  That was the same question I asked when I was handed a new drumming memoir penned by Mr. Mayes.  I thought I knew most drummers and not being able to place a drummer dubbed, "amazing," made me extra curious.  

It turns out, Jimmi Mayes is in fact amazing.  Jimmi is a sideman and like a lot of sidemen, is mostly ignored in the pantheon of music history.  As we all know, sidemen are a crucial part of the music making process.  Where would we be without Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine or Earl Palmer? Jimmi started as a blues drummer, working with many of Chicago's finest musicians including  Little Walter, Junior Wells and Pinetop Perkins.  Later in his career, he worked with some of rocks biggest names including Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye and a little known guitar player, Jimi Hendrix.  Jimmi's life outside of music is just as interesting as his extra-curricular activities included pimping and running drugs.  This book is a must read for those who enjoy music memoirs, early rock and roll stories and books about drumming.  

This Tuesday, I will be performing with the Amazing Jimmi Mayes at Turnrow Books in Greenwood, MS.  Jimmi will be signing copies of his book and he and I will be involved in some sort of drum off.  It should be a good time.  If you are interested in ordering a signed copy, I know the boys over at  Turnrow Books will be able to set you up.  Click here to order from their website or give them a call at 662-453-5995.  Seriously, grab a signed copy of this book while you still can.  It's worth the read.

*UPDATE*

Below is a picture of Jimmi and I at the event.  He was a great player and full of amazing stories.  We had a blast playing together.  He is pictured behind my Gretsch tubs.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin and Max

"The ultimate measure of a man,
is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
--Martin Luther King Jr.

I know this blog is about drums and drumming, but I have been thinking about other things lately and today might be the most appropriate time to discuss them.  I currently live in a place where race issues are always a topic for conversation.  I live 2 hours from the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and 2 hours from Medgar Ever's home where he was assassinated.  I live 25 minutes from the place where Emmett Till was murdered and 30 minutes from where his murderers were "tried."  I live in the hometown of Byron de la Beckwith.  I am surrounded by plantations, old cotton money, people who have "help."  It is a place where people of all races simultaneously come together as a community while doing their best not to notice each other.  As an outsider and a person who was born too late to march with King or to fully understand integration, I am constantly confused by everything going on around me.

I'm telling you all of this, not to make a political statement or to say much of anything really.  I just have all of this stuff running through my brain and thought rambling through it here might help clear my mind.  It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day today and I took some time to reflect on my surroundings to see if I could change anything and could I feel okay taking a stance against racism in a place where it holds so much significance.  

I recently had a heated discussion with a guy who told me some racist jokes.  I've learned that where I live, people often assume that I have the same feelings as they do because of the way I look.  Usually, I don't say anything, which makes me feel weak.  A few days ago, I had enough of this nonsense and told the person that I did not approve of these types of jokes.  A heated argument was the result and I felt even worse.  I was trying to stand up for something I believe in but I feel horrible when I argue.  

I've been trying to deal with all kinds of feelings in my mind for the last few days.  The only thing that has allowed me to find some peace is that I know what's right and what's wrong.  The good fight for what's right and I am going to continue to do my best to be better.  I am going to present my beliefs through my actions and people will know where I stand.  

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., I present two musical reflections that I thought would be appropriate for today.  The first is a piece I wrote for another blog about the connection between jazz and Civil Rights. This is by no means a comprehensive list but it was the playlist I listened to today.  The second musical offering, is the great Max Roach performing his classic duet with Martin Luther King Jr.