Thursday, June 18, 2009

Max Roach - Right under my nose...

I grew up studying jazz drummers in the 70's. While my buddys were copping Bonham licks and discovering Neal Peart I was cloning Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson. Moving past these big band greats on to other forms of jazz I discovered players like Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones and Jack Dejohnette. Max and Philly Joe were easy enough to understand but Elvin and Jack were definitely acquired tastes. Once I got it though, I was hooked.

I live in a small town about an hour and half from Nashville. About the last thing I expected to see on the front page of the local paper was an article about how the complete collection of Max Roach's drums were found the other day at a local moving and storage company. It was an unbelievable story about how Max's drums were stored in a barn in a town even smaller than mine about 50 min to the north. I was dumbfounded when I read the article. How could all of the instruments of one of the most important drummers of the last century be stored in barn in some tiny Tennessee town?

The story reported that the family claimed that only about half of the collection was still in the barn when they found it. That conjured up frightening images of some rural teenager bashing out rock grooves on priceless old K Zildjians that he bought for $50 from some guy in a barn.

I am going down to the storage company tomorrow to see if I can catch a glimpse of some of the gear. I will report on the outcome. I will be interested to find out if there are others as interested as I am to get a look at Max's gear. Stay tuned...

To read the newspaper article, follow this link:

Well, I went down to the storage company and talked to one of the guys that worked there. He said the drums had already been shipped back to the Roach family in New Jersey. I asked a little more about how the drums had ended up in a barn in Byrdstown and he said that the drums were stolen and the guy that stole them had a friend in Byrdstown that stored the drums for him. He said only about half of the equipment was there when the moving company picked them up for the family. He also said the kit that Max played was not among the stolen property.

Pretty crazy...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Steve Gorman: Jealous Again

Without a doubt, I will probably be forever jealous of Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes. The list of what makes this guy an unbelievably pocket-oriented rock drummer is lengthy. Before I get into it, I must confess I have a nasty habit of looking backwards in music rather than forwards. Unexplicably I continually listen to records released long ago, rather than those most current. So, its understandable that I recently got into the Crowes, and not so much Lady Gaga.

Fast forward to getting a copy of WARPAINT after watching their excellent UNPLUGGED on MHD. And there it was, "Walk Believer Walk", track two of the album. I was floored with Steve Gorman's filthy, dirty groove. It wasn't just the forcefullness of the second 8th note heavy accented bass drum. It wasn't the way he matched the accents with the hi-hat either; laying off the first 8th note on the bass, and pushing it harder on the second 8th and rim shot. Nope, it was the whole heavy groove that felt dirtier than a Waffle House toilet seat.

Next comes "Oh Josephine" which "is my jam" on the record. Gorman quiets the verses with a barely noticeable snare, and follows the teaching of Bonham with a forceful foot matching the band on the bass notes. Also, see 1:58 for the way Gorman adds texture with a snare accent that I am now proud to steal all the time.

I could go on and on about his playing, and if he ever happens to read this, I am sure both of us will be embarrassed enough, but only one of us will know what they're talking about. In any case, I think Steve Gorman is a classic example of a musician who never forgets the 2 and the 4, and lets the groove get deep and decadent, without sacrificing the song. So maybe bypass "Hard to Handle", and give "Sometimes Salvation" or "There's Gold in Them Hills" a listen. Any thoughts?