Tag Archives: drumming

Discovering a New Drummer: Marcus Gilmore

Lately I’ve been listening to Vijay Iyer’s 2005 album Reimagining.  Even though Iyer is a one-of-a-kind pianist, since I’m a drummer, let’s be honest, I’m paying lots of attention to the drummer, Marcus Gilmore.  Instead of the standard, swingin’, ding-dinga-ding ride cymbal pattern of traditional jazz, Gilmore chops up the time to follow Iyer’s quirky lines.  Yet he still drives the music along.

According to Jazziz magazine, “Gilmore started playing in the rhythmically complex environments of Vijay Iyer’s trios and quartets in 2003, when he was a 16-year-old high-school student.”  (Jazziz, Summer 2011, Vol. 28, Issue 6, p.78)  Wow.  And that was after Gilmore had played with saxophonist and odd-time innovator Steve Coleman.  It reminds me of whiz kid Tony Williams (1945-1997) joining Miles Davis’ quintet at age 17 after playing with saxophonist Jackie McLean.

It’s natural that Gilmore (b. October 10, 1986) would gravitate towards great drumming since he is the grandson of still-living, mind-melting, master drummer Roy Haynes (1925- ) and nephew of cornet player, Graham Haynes.  But perhaps more importantly, it’s Gilmore’s practicing and the opportunities he got while a student at the famous Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts that set him on his way.  And in his mid-twenties, Gilmore is already a well-established figure in the world of jazz drumming.

Bill Milkowski sums him up well in Modern Drummer:

…it’s his talent alone that has led Marcus Gilmore to be considered one of the most gifted young drummers on the New York scene.  Blessed with an abundance of chops, flawless time, a penchant for intricate subdivisions, and a remarkable sense of independence on the kit, Gilmore also exhibits rare poise and a quiet intelligence on the bandstand — a natural-born drummer indeed. (Modern Drummer, March 2008, Vol. 32, Issue 3, p. 110)

— Tim

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On Babies and Bebop

This post commemorates a special event in my life: this morning, perhaps just as you’re navigating your way to Eleventh Stack for your daily dose, I will be joining my wife at an ultrasound to learn the sex of our first baby. Don’t worry, I’m not going to blather on about the joys of fatherhood and recommend baby care books. No, this post is actually about jazz drumming.

Though the baby is sort of included.

You see, I picture myself telling my grown up kid this story some years from now: “While your mother was busy gestating, I was doing what I could to help out, but was otherwise helpless with worry about your future. Like any other sensible father-to-be, I found an escape from the worry by teaching myself jazz drumming.”

Max Roach, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Max Roach, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“I played drums for years before, mostly John Bonham-inspired rock and assorted heavy metal, and I was a bit out of practice. But just a couple weeks before I learned you were going to be a boy/girl*, I heard your heartbeat and it sounded like a bass drum keeping a steady 140 beats per minute. For whatever reason, it made me think of great jazz drummers like Max Roach, Art Blakey and Roger Humphries, and inspired me to pick up my sticks and play something new. So, I borrowed a copy of John Riley’s The Art of Bop Drumming from the Carnegie Library Music Department (thanks, Tim) and started swinging.”

“It was akin to relearning how to ride a bicycle. But fortunately I stuck with it, and as you know my quintet has now sold enough records to pay for your Ivy League education.”

Ok, ok, fine, I’m daydreaming a bit. I’ll probably never be a world-renowned jazz drummer and sell lots of records.

But my kid will.

–Wes

*Check back later to see which one I’ve crossed off.

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The Drummer: The Movie and the Viewer

As part of its International Cinema Sunday program a few weeks ago, the Film & Audio Department showed the East Asian film The Drummer.  I missed it.  Hey, I can’t get cultured continuously (as much as I try) and I watched the Steelers beat the Dolphins that afternoon.

Luckily, the library has the movie on DVD.  Though I wished I could have seen on the big screen the mesmerizing scenes of Zen drummers on a mountain in Taiwan (the real-life U Theatre ensemble), home viewing had one advantage.  Immediately after the film ended, I grabbed a pair of drumsticks and put my practice pad on the coffee table.  So while my father isn’t a hotheaded Hong Kong gangster and I didn’t foolishly get caught in the bathtub with a rival gang leader’s girlfriend, it was still good to lose myself in rhythm like the protagonist of The Drummer does.

— Tim

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