Another new chapter in our ongoing series of quotes, conversations, commentary, and updates with jazz drumming legend Mike Clark. Mike’s keen observations provide numerous insights into “all things music”. Mike tells it like it is…The good, the bad, and everything else in between:Read More
“Damn, gotta’ couple of really good students...The lesson is - I will charge them and steal their licks. If you are interested in me stealing your licks… Hit me up for a few lessons. “Read More
“Man, I had beyond a blast playing with the Great Eddie Henderson…There were some fantastic drummers in who I really dig, Billy Drummond, Sylvia Cuenca, Steve Johns, and the all time master - my hero Billy Hart. You know all those folks can hear the entire picture and then some. How great is that? Such great artists all in one place and one town. Billy Harper was there as well…Damn, I Love New York !”Read More
This is Chapter 17 in an ongoing series of conversations, quotes, commentary, and updates with drumming legend Mike Clark. Mike’s keen observations provide numerous insights into ‘all things music’. I ask Mike to just tell it like it is…This includes the good, the bad, and everything else in between.Read More
“He’s a great jazz drummer—and he hasn’t lost any of the stuff that he brought from Oakland. So now he’s totally free to do both, and he does. The solo he played on the album Thrust, on the song “Actual Proof,” is one of the best drum solos on any of my albums. So many people have remarked about that solo, saying, ‘Incredible.’
-Herbie HancockRead More
"Never mind all my Jazz rants… Let's get down to the real stuff...Who did kill Laura Palmer?"Read More
I know a guy who said for $75.00 dollars, I won't trade fours, or solo. But for a $100.00 dollars- I will. The gig paid $75.00 - So when they gave him fours there was silence. The leader forgot and gave him a chorus.... Silence for 32 bars then he came back in at the top.Read More
Not So Modern Drummer celebrates the legendary Buddy Rich on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Providing personal commentary on Buddy are Mike Clark, Peter Erskine, and Gregg PotterRead More
I was asked the other day who I liked out of the new modern type drummers. For me, Lenny White and Billy Hart are totally "modern" as they are master improvisers that don't sound like anyone but themselves. I never know what they are going to play.Read More
" I love jazz drummers… Can't think of one I don't like. Some of them hold their sticks weird, and don't care about the latest drumming fads. They love the tradition, and the language. They just...Swing! "Read More
Many musicians… Myself included - would not have a career today if not for the genius and innovation of Tony Williams. Many who don't know who he is have careers because of Tony, and not just drummers. His musical voice was like a war cry to those of us who were young when he hit the scene. It spoke to us on every level, social, political and cultural.
He changed music and drumming forever in several different genres. Always seeking, and pushing the envelope… Always challenging everything.
Once you’ve mastered a lot of the technical wizardry that your heroes have played, you only have a small piece of the puzzle...That’s the easy part.
When you age, and hear the phrasing they played when they were twenty years younger makes you realize where the real work is!Read More
Best Drummer In The World? Who can orchestrate and swing like Elvin Jones? – Nobody. Who changed everything for everybody and came up with a new way of looking at things like Tony Williams? –Nobody.
Chapter six in an ongoing series of commentary from legendary drummer Mike Clark. His storied observations continue to inspire, and provide keen insight into ‘all things music’.
I was lucky my Mom loved jazz. At age five I would bring my Gretsch Broadcasters into the kitchen while she was cooking, play for her and she loved it. The neighbors would say, “how can you stand that noise”? She would say, “what noise”? He sounds like Gene Krupa.
My other heroes were Zutty Singleton, Cozy Cole, Lionel Hampton, Big Sid Catlett, Louie Bellson, and Buddy Rich. At eight I discovered Art Blakey.
My experience with Herbie Hancock happened when he became emotionally involved, and it was on the real. It was the most inspired and highly spirited music...Definitely not for the faint of heart. He would bring this to any genre...It was like John Coltrane as far as power, energy, emotion, and dialogue...Herbie is from that school in my humble opinion...Deepness Reigns!!
Don’t you just love it when you lose something and someone says -where did you lose it? If I knew that, I would know where it is and it wouldn’t be lost!
BB King… It is going to be weird without him. I am just so used to that sound. I know we can hear the music, but he has always been there. I’m glad I got to meet him.
BB King once asked the Headhunters to play a tune with him. Everybody plays some deep stuff trying to show BB they can play the blues. Hancock plays some totally avant-garde solos like something you would have heard on an Eric Dolphy record in 1963. After his solos BB takes the microphone with a confused look on his face and says…”Well, everybody has their own way of playing the blues”.
I once realized there was something missing deep in my life.... so I bought a cowbell!!
Chapter number five in an ongoing series of commentary from legendary drummer Mike Clark. His storied observations continue to inspire, and provide keen insight into ‘all things music’.
I played double drums on a gig with Lenny White once and he took a solo all poly-outness while I held my place quietly on the 2 and 4. He took it so far out I was hanging on for dear life. But Lenny was right, and here is the kicker...I was proud of myself for keeping my place. But he was the dude that played everything. It was amazing, as Lenny knows where he is at all times… But it really sounded like he modulated into about 80 different time signatures at once.
I love Art Blakey’s playing, his bands, arrangements, his groove… When it comes to swingin’ – Is there anyone that can swing harder? Not for me.
Does anybody but me get tired of seeing and hearing the same 6 or 7 guys playing all the festivals and jazz joints over and over? Who's idea is that? Or if there is a new guy… He has to make up some wild way of playing that most of us had thought of and discarded.
When I play swing no matter how far out I go, I play it on the 2 and 4. Same with funk… No matter where I put the backbeat, the "Thing" if you will is on the 2 and 4. That’s what I do.
I remember when you had to play several different styles of jazz… Usually a few you really liked best. It was hard to make a living specializing in one area unless you had really good luck. Now it’s hard to make a living playing any of those styles. Now I see that several guys stay in one bag for a lifetime and do OK. For me, that would be like eating eggs every morning forever.
Elvin Jones said he wanted to be part of the scene, but didn’t want to play in a conventional way. Elvin really didn’t hear that, and he was severely criticized for it. Being with Coltrane solidified his concept, and his words. How would things be if he didn’t have the good fortune to get that gig? How would things sound today?
I went to a mix when Tony Williams played, I was listening to the playback and the time sounded a bit soupy, Tony walked by the board and pushed the fader up to the top and the track swung incredibly, and it sounded like Tony. The engineer cried and whined about the fact that it red lined. Tony said, “the red line - that’s how jazz is supposed to sound”.
I admit it - when I played with musicians having great careers, I would be kind of nervous since I wanted what they had. While playing with Herbie Hancock, there was none of that. He was so famous I guess my brain processed it differently. In the last five years I’m finally over it. I really enjoy playing with anyone, no matter how much they’ve got. As long as the music is cool… That’s the end of it…I am actually in the moment. It took a lifetime… But better late than never!
When mixing drums for jazz, I would suggest listening to some old Blue Note records as many times as possible. Now the drums are compressed like a pop record and the tuning seems to be in between what used to be jazz tuning and pop or fusion. Also, the groove is in the ride cymbal… So don't turn it down and have it sound like mush.
Drummers who use traditional grip...Some people use the index finger over the stick along with the second finger etc. or some guys use the thumb as it is a strong appendage, or kind of open which they used to call rabbit ears...I really think all have certain advantages so why use just one?
OK, My humble opinion. To have a James Brown movie without mentioning Fred Wesley’s name, is like making a John Coltrane film and not mentioning Elvin Jones.
Drummers who want to play jazz, or whatever you want to call it… Check out ‘Do The Math’, an interview with Billy Hart. He talks about history, and his history…The ride beat, which drummers did what, and all kinds of great stuff for musicians who love this music.
Can never stop paying my debt of gratitude to...Philly Joe Jones, Papa Jo Jones, Max Roach, Elvin Jones., Tony Williams, Art Blakey, Tootie Heath, Mickey Roker, Billy Hart, Billy Higgins, Roy McCurdy Lenny White, Kenny Clarke, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Clyde Stubblefield, Louie Bellson, Sonny Payne, Sam Woodyard, Louis Hayes, Jabo Starks, Dave Garibaldi, Bernard Purdie, Clifford Jarvis, and Joe Chambers.... I think about what these cats did and why everyday...Many more, but it would take forever.
Lenny White and I are working on a book about what it was like when he was with Return to Forever, and I was with Herbie Hancock. It also addresses many other things… Even though I lived it, I enjoy the proofing as I’m learning from reading it. At any rate, it’s way cool...Not just drum talk…There’s so much more.
Shelly Manne said…“The ride beat is the easiest and the most difficult thing a drummer will ever play”…Or something like that.
"OK… So the snares broke on ‘God Make Me Funky’ and I continued to play it on Tom. The engineer Fred Catero takes a brass wastebasket, puts a mike in it and puts the now fixed snare on top of the basket. He then plays the track to the snare which makes a sound at each backbeat, but leaving out all the ghost notes. I hated that sound, and without the ghost notes the beat sounded pedestrian to my ears…Like anyone could have played it. Now it’s one of the most sampled drum loops ever. They dug it, and some drummers say Hey, Man - I worked hard to get my snare to sound like yours!"Read More
This is the second chapter in an ongoing series of quotes and commentary from legendary drummer Mike Clark. Mike’s numerous observations provide insight into ‘all things music’. As always… Mike just tells it like it is.
“Many jazz musicians tell me they are doing something new. When I hear them, it sounds almost exactly like the things I used to do in the early 1960’s when we thought it was new. This being said, the new thing is the old thing. Hence, at a certain point you just go… Let’s swing and play whatever. Maybe we can have an old ‘NEW THING’ revival.”
“Lots of musicians start to play whatever the latest thing is… It was rock, then funk, hip hop, etc. I still dig playing standards, I’ve been playing them since I was five, and it’s always brand new to me.”
“Was just reading a post realizing that I have never been on any jazz polls, or in the running for best drummer; or even worst drummer… Must say, I find this interesting.”
“Gave a lesson on Max Roach the other day. Man that was fun… I had to go back and shed some stuff to even be in the same ballpark…totally challenging... Max was a genius.”
“Was listening to Art Blakey, Lenny White, and James Brown last night and realized it’s all been played before... We just kind of changed the order and intention of things.”
“I always find it laughable when musicians talk about the groove, the pocket, the time, getting real funky, and all the rest. They then get up on stage and play as loud as they can, thinking it was killer. At that volume there is no funk, no groove, no grease and you can’t play anything inside of it.”
“Just played a medium blues at sound check that had tears of joy running down my face... Every once in a while I’m reminded of why I do this.”
This is the first chapter in an ongoing series of conversations, quotes, commentary, history, and updates with Legendary drummer Mike Clark. Mike’s keen observations provide numerous insights into ‘all things music’. I asked Mike to just tell it like it is… Including the good, the bad, and everything else in between.
“Jazz drummers are a different breed ! We don’t care about, the newest lick, how fast you can play, the double pedal, 22” bass drums, we care about phrasing, knowing the language, the tunes, history, swinging, groove, interaction, communication and dialog. We are not afraid to play something old or new.”
“Fusion chops drummers say the 18” bass drum sounds like a mounted tom…Or, why isn't he or she playing as fast as they can. What no 7's or 9's? Ha! Phew!! A different aesthetic & understanding for days !!!”
“I have a new product out on the market. ... Stool Softener for drummers who feel the need to play fast rolls all over the kit.... A quick fix for double pedal jazz !!”
“I was just checking out how some cats don’t swing hard and call that swing, other cats are emotional and dig real deep, swing real hard and to some it seems too much, too loud over the top etc. Some cats play real straight, and others take it out and everything in between. There are cultural differences and misunderstandings etc… But in essence, since we are all going to die some day, who cares… !!!”
“Many jazz musicians start to play whatever the latest thing is…It was rock, funk, hip hop, whatever... I still dig playing standards, I have been playing them since I was five, and it is always brand new to me !!”
“Occasionally people ask me at drum clinics how it feels to at one time have been one of the most sampled drummers in hip hop history… I tell them I dug the Cred, but would have really dug the Bread!... That's right, the Cred and the Bread !!!”