Archive for drums

Blindfold Bootleg Series: Austin McMahon

Posted in Composition, Improvisation, Musical Influences, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by pogo56

AustinMcMahon

I consider Austin to be one of the most talented, acute artists of my generation to sit at the drum throne. He’s got a great sophisticated touch on the set and as a horn player, he’s VERY easy to make music with because he has a strong set of musical ears. He also co-leads the Quartet of Happiness, one of the frontrunners in introducing children to thee are of jazz and improvisation in a fresh and interactive way! Here’s what Austin had to say after hearing the test examples:

Example 1-Clarence Penn in London with Jason Palmer and Cedric Hanriot’s City of Poets (2014)

1) I love the phrasing of this example. The drummer has such command of the time amidst this syncopated (yet spacious) vamp. Although the gestures are fragmented and largely occurring within the spaces of the accompaniment, the solo has a clear shape and direction to it. I particularly enjoy the superimposition of other meters/grooves and his sonic concept. Nowadays, it seems more and more drummers are utilizing “prepared” sounds like a heavily muffled snare or additional high-pitched auxiliary drum (as heard in this example) to add a little more color to the drummer’s palette. Based on this brief example I’m not certain who this drummer is and therefore would rather be surprised and hope to check them out more in the future!

After: Ah, yes, Clarence Penn. I actually thought of him for a second when I heard the splash cymbal but didn’t put all the pieces together. I love how he’s incorporated the roll of a percussionist into his drumset playing and utilizes auxiliary percussion like wood blocks or triangles in a tasteful way. Recently I’ve enjoyed his playing on several records and live performances in recent years specifically with Kate McGarry and Maria Schneider’s orchestra.

Example 2-Kendrick Scott Tribute to Herbie Hancock in NYC (year unknown)

2) This drum intro leaves me wondering many things. The vocabulary sounds heavily influenced by the great Roy Haynes but the tuning of the drums seems more contemporary. And, the extensive use of the hihat is not nearly as common amongst modern drummers as it once was. Though this may seem like a strange take on this example my honest guess is that this is an older drummer sitting in and playing someone else’s (modern) drums. (Again, I’m consciously choosing not to mention names for lack of certainty.) Either way, if it happens to be a younger drummer, I would applaud their dedication in studying the foundation of our idiom. In my opinion, this drummer has not cut corners to get to this level of playing.

After: I’m glad to hear this is Kendrick Scott. I love his playing and he is definitely a player who has done his share of studying the lineage of the drumset (thus fooling me into thinking he was an “older” drummer). He is quite a driving force in modern jazz and has had a big influence on my playing. I really love his “Oracle” group and how well constructed the music is – not just the drumming. He’s a fabulous musician.

Example 3-Jochen Ruechert in England (year unknown)

3) Wow, this drummer is so “inside” of the accompaniment that it seems uncanny. My feeling is that this drummer is also a composer (not of this example) and thus really understands the direction of the music and can dance around and within it very liberally. The solo also makes me think that this drummer is either an extremely good reader of difficulty music or has played this particular song many times, or both. It’s very interesting to me to try to make guesses at who this may be when I hear vocabulary and cymbal sound and drum tuning that’s used by lots of contemporary jazz drummers. If this were a studio album it’s possible that some of the subtleties/individualities would stand out to me but with live recordings a lot of that is lost. Whoever it is, I like it a lot and would assume this is a very busy hardworking drummer.

After: Jochen Rueckert is on my latest favorites. I’m a big fan of his playing with Marc Copland and his electronic music project “Wolff Parkinson White”. Sometimes when I’m listening to him I feel like there was a snapshot of jazz taken in the late 1960’s and he is building upon that style, approach and vocabulary. I mean that as the highest compliment since many drummers strive to achieve what drummers of that era were doing and I think Jochen understands that language deeply. That mixed with his fiery modern edge blend to create a very exciting and engaging approach to drumming.

Example 4-Marcus Gilmore in Boston with Nicholas Payton 5tet (year unknown)

4) I find it hard to hone in on an honest guess on this one because the sound of the cymbals and drums are obscured and sound compressed. The beginning is reminiscent of a free jazz approach to time playing like that of Paul Motian with a little more modern edge which, then leads more towards a more Tony William’s influenced approach to uptempo time playing. Overall, I don’t know who this is but, I feel this solo was inspired to a degree by Tony Williams. And again, the drummer has done their homework.

After: I still wouldn’t have been able to guess this was Marcus Gilmore but now I do hear some similarities in approach to some recordings of Vijay Iyer’s trio, which feature Marcus. I love the fluidity of his playing and how he makes time and grooves feel so liquid even in very complex meters and forms. When he plays drums I feel he evokes a true love of the instrument.

Example 5-Obed Calvaire in Cambridge with Kurt Rosenwinkel 5tet (year unknown)

5) This is the first time during this blindfold test that I will actually mention a name of who I think the drummer is. I don’t know many other drummers on the scene today with such command of the instrument and ability to build a solo to peak and continue pushing upwards from there. There is such musicality and technical mastery on display here. I love his sound as well. This must be Eric Harland.

After: Obed! I remember hearing his name when I was a student at the University of Miami in early 2000’s and he was at the New World School for the Arts High School. After that when he attended Manhattan School of Music he would come sit in at jam sessions when he was visiting Miami and blow people away with his feel. It wasn’t long before he was making waves in New York’s jazz scene. Wow, what a great player! I can only hope that he’d see it as a compliment that I thought he was Eric Harland. Both are fantastic drummers at the top of the game.

Example 6-Jamire Williams in NYC with Darren Barrett and Myron Walden

6) This is an enjoyable solo with some interesting push and pull on the time feel. There are moments of an almost exaggerated swing feeling as the drummer moves around the toms as Max Roach would but meanwhile a lot of heavy cymbals and Blakey like gestures. Again, I hear a young/contemporary drummer and strong influences from the hardbop era but I’m unable to pinpoint who this may be for sure.

After: I still wouldn’t have been able to get this one but since being given the answers to this blindfold test I’ve been exploring Jamire’s music and have really enjoyed what I’ve heard so far. I’m glad he’s on my radar now. He seems to be part of the new movement of drummers who have many other musical talents and knows how to use them to create truly fresh sounding new music.

Example 7-Jeff Ballard in London with Jason Palmer, Michael Janisch, and Julian Siegel.

7) Yes, I will name another name during this test because I have no doubts that this is the one and only Jeff Ballard. His sound and vocabulary are both so refined and individual. To me, his whole approach is unmistakable and so musical. This is what jazz drumming has always been about and he makes it sound so fresh – I love this solo.

After: Yep, Jeff Ballard. I love his touch on the ride cymbal. It’s particularly on display in the later part of this example. It’s like he’s dancing on the ride and tying the whole drumset together with that sound. Really fantastic drumming and musicianship.

Keep up with Austin via his website!

Jason Palmer Septet Live at the Jazz Gallery 2013

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by pogo56

All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
Mike Moreno-Guitar
Leo Genovese-Piano
Edward Perez-Bass
E.J. Strickland-Drums
Jason Palmer-Trumpet

Here Today Liners for all of you that purchase Digitally!!

Posted in jazz trumpet music, Musical Influences, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by pogo56

Thank you all for supporting this project and this label! I’m excited to present this project of mostly original material with this NY based band (with all the members having musical ties to Boston/Cambridge). It’s indeed an all-star cast and I don’t think I could have picked a better group for the tunes that I selected for the session. It was one of the smoothest sessions that I’ve ever been a part of music wise, but at the same time, it was one that I was extremely nervous about because we didn’t rehearse and I was worried that everyone on the session would not have had time to check out the music ahead of time. As it turned out, they played the tunes like they wrote them themselves. Every song was recorded in two takes and in most cases we kept the first one. I’m really thankful for that.

The Songs

Here Today, Gone Yesterday– This song was a part of a project that I presented in 2009 in NYC. The project, “Never Before, Never After”, was a concert featuring my original compositions with the intent of premiering them the night of the concert (Never Before) and never to play them again (Never After). To me, it was a lesson in detachment from my work. The band, however, convinced me that disposing of all the tunes wouldn’t be the best idea, so we agreed to choose one of the tunes and add it to our repertoire. This tune in 7/4 time was the lucky winner!

Abu Abed– This is the newest composition (composed in the summer of 2010) on the record. The song was inspired by a story that I heard on NPR’s This American Life about a man by the name of Abu Abed. I composed this piece in 5/8 time, but it’s much easier felt and played with 5/4 time in mind.

3rd Shift– I wrote this song for my mother. For over 20 years, my mom worked the 3rd Shift in the textile industry, so this tune is dedicated to her!

Takes Courage to be Happy– I wrote this song for Abbey Lincoln in 2006. I had the honor and the pleasure of first meeting Abbey after the first set of one of her performances in Boston at Sculler’s Jazz Club on Valentine’s Day (which happens to be my birthday) several years ago. In our conversation between sets, I remember her asking me if I had my trumpet with me and if I would like to sit in with the band. I didn’t have it with me but we exchanged information and decided to stay in touch because I had many questions for her about the music. I took me about a year to muster up the courage to call her but I did finally. In the course of this conversation, Abbey suddenly says to me, “You know Jason, it Takes Courage to be Happy!” A song was born.

Skylark/I Can’t Help It– This arrangement was a part of a project that I put together for a special performance in the winter of 2009 in Boston. For this project I celebrated the music of Johnny Mercer by arranging some of his classics and fusing them with my originals and other classic tunes in the jazz and pop canon. Me, like most people in mid to late 2009, were mourning the passing of Michael Jackson. In the fall of 2009 I started to rediscover the beauty of the songs that Michael wrote and performed. I then thought of the idea of adding I Can’t Help It (composed by Susaye Greene and Stevie Wonder) to the project I was putting together at the time.

3 Point Turn– I wrote this tune for Mark Turner in October of 2008 in a hotel room in Finland on tour. One of my favorite records is Mark Turner’s Dharma Days. There’s a nice tune in 5/4 time on the record entitled Jacky’s Place. 3 Point Turn is a variation of the B section of Jacky’s Place where I borrowed the pair of chords in the bridge of Jacky’s Place and added two more pairs, making 3!!

Capricorn-This is my reharmonization of a Wayne Shorter classic.

The Players

Mark Turner– Mark Turner is one of the most influential non-trumpeters on my approach to improvisation. I spent many hours in college absorbing Mark’s playing and composing style, delving into his records as a leader such as Dharma Days and Ballad Sessions as well as the records he made with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel (The Next Step, Enemies of Energy, and Heartcore). His collaboration with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel produced music that left an indelible earprint on my jazz generation. Mark possesses many of the attributes that John Coltrane exhibited, including the idea of becoming a selfless musician and playing for more of a lofty purpose. When I listen to Mark, the absence of the ego in his playing is pretty evident to me. This project represents the first time that I’ve played with Mark. I’m extremely lucky to have him on this record.


Nir Felder– Nir’s the kind of player that has the intrinsic gift of making the listener want to move one way or another when he plays. He’s one of the busiest guitarists on the scene in NY and that’s saying a lot, considering the bulk of guitarists on the scene. I initially met Nir when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I had the occasional pleasure of having Nir in my band at Wally’s so I was able to witness his speedy pace of musical development firsthand. Upon finishing his studies at Berklee, he then moved back to NY to further his already bright career. We reconnected musically in 2009 during our residency at the JazzUV Festival in Veracruz, Mexico.


Edward Perez– Edward has enjoyed having one of the most diverse careers in music to this day. He’s played with many of the greats in jazz (Mark Murphy, Miguel Zenon, Kenny Werner, and Ari Hoenig) to the greats in Latin music (Julio “Chocolate” Algendones, Juan Medrano Cotito, Sergio Valdeos, and Andrés Prado). Born in Texas, Edward began playing music at a young age and by the age of 13 he was a member of the symphony orchestra in his hometown. He l attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan as a teenager and went on to study applied mathematics at Harvard University. It was during Edward’s time at Harvard that I was able to begin a musical relationship with him. We played many nights at Wally’s, the Wonderbar, and Ryles Jazz Club.


Kendrick Scott– Kendrick hails from a rich lineage of strong, young, gifted drummers/musicians from Houston Texas. Kendrick Allen Dewitt Scott, affectionately known as KADS, attended the Houston School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). This school has produced musicians such as Eric Harland, Chris Dave, Walter Smith III, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Mike Moreno, and Andre Hayward. We first started playing together in saxophonist Grant Langford’s band at The Goodlife in downtown Boston while Kendrick was studying music at Berklee. We later performed in the house band at the Wonderbar and Wally’s Jazz Café. Upon graduating from Berklee, Kendrick relocated to NYC and joined Terence Blanchard’s band, where he has been a mainstay ever since. Kendrick has a golden touch on the set and has strong ears behind a drum set as well as behind a studio soundboard. He is the founder of World Culture Music, a record label based in NY.

Thank you again for listening and I hope you enjoy! Until next time!

Swing it out!

Jason Palmer

Update!!

Posted in Performance, Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2011 by pogo56

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you all are enjoying these last days of summer!! Just writing here to update you on what’s been up with me this summer and what’s planned for the fall!

I started off the summer in the start of June in NY, performing and recording with saxophonist/composer Dan Blake. Look out for his album soon!! Some beautifully, soulful, intricate music!! Check out a clip from our live gig at the Douglas Street Music Collective here:

I then went on a US/Canada tour with the Grace Kelly Quintet, with special guest Phil Woods joining us for a few of the dates. It’s always a learning experience being in the presence of a master like Phil. I love picking his brain about the musical society of the past several decades. He’s got a boots on the ground perspective of the goings-on in the music!! That tour involved stops in Rochester, Cleveland, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, the Berkshires, Boston, and Montreal.

In the start of Juiy, I traveled to Europe for a couple of concerts with Grace in Stuttgart, Germany and Mureck, Austria. After the concert n Austria, I then went to Paris for 12 days of R&R with my wife and time to arrange music for the next gig. In those 12 days I did a fair share of sightseeing and I also saw many friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. While I was in Paris I saw/heard some wonderful concerts at the Sunset/Sunside (one lead by Lionel Loueke and one led by Tom Harrell) and a nice concert at the Olympia (Marcus Miller’s homage to Miles which featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Sean Jones, and Sean Rickman).

I then ended the European tour with a week residency at the Jazz Nights Festival in Langnau, Switzerland and a member of the FLY7 ensemble (Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Edward Simon, Becca Stevens, and me). Our residency included 6 hours of instruction a day and a few concerts in the week. There were also two bands that came to perform in the evening nightly. Throughout the week I had the pleasure of hearing John Scofield’s new group (Sco, Mulgrew Miller, Scott Colley, and Bill Stewart), Nir Felder’s 4tet (Nir, Aaron Parks, Ben Street, and Henry Cole), Ravi Coltrane’s 4tet (Ravi, Luis Perdomo, Hans Glavischnig, and EJ Strickland). Here’s a clip from the concert of FLY7.

When we returned to the States, I played a few concerts in Boston followed by a set at the Newport Jazz Festival with Grace’s 5tet featuring Phil Woods and Bill Goodwin.

The following week I traveled to Washington State to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding and to visit with my wife’s family. It was a wonderful trip but it was cut short by a gig that I had at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway with GK5 featuring Phil Woods. While I was in Oslo I caught up with some wonderful musician friends that I hadn’t seen in a while (trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, Johnathan Blake, Lage Lund). A word to the wise: For the concert in Oslo, I brought 3 cds to sell after the concert. I sold them all, the festival took 10% commission, the currency exchange took 10% and I still got 100 USD for the sale of 3 of my cds.

So that pretty much brings us up to date. There are several engagements that I am excited for this fall/winter. Before I let you know of them, I’d like you all to join me in congratulating the alto saxophonist in my Boston-based band Michael Thomas on his recent accomplishment. Michael was just accepted into the exclusive artist diploma program at Julliard where he’ll be starting in the fall of this year!! It’s been a pleasure having Michael in my band and I look forward to hearing great things from/about him in NY in the years to come.

I’d like you all to keep on the lookout for the release of my 3rd album entitled Here Today on Steeplechase Records. The album features the Great Mark Turner on tenor, Nir Felder-Guitar, Edward Perez-Bass, and Kendrick Scott-Drums. There will be a cd release concert on September 23rd in Ny at the Jazz Gallery. That concert will feature everyone on the record, with the exception of Marcus Strickland in place for Mark Turner. Release date is slated for September 10th!

I’ll be making my 6th trip to Europe this year in October with a series of concerts with vocalist Melissa Oliveira in Portugal and guitarist Oscar Penas in Spain.

In November I’ll be subbing for the wonderful trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire in his band for a series of concerts in the US as part of a Miles Davis retrospective.

All of these dates can be found on my schedule page.

Thank you for reading!! Stay tuned here as well as my youtube page.

Jason Palmer

What’s been up with me lately?!!…

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by pogo56

Hello all,

Just a quick update on me and what I’ve been up to. I am currently in the middle of a 2 week European tour with Grace Kelly and the 5tet. Special Guest Phil Woods will be joining us for a few of the concerts as well. We’re touring in support of Grace’s newest record entitled Man with the Hat, which features Phil, Monty Alexander, Bill Goodwin, and the working 5tet’s bassist, Evan Gregor. The band started out in Norway and I flew out (a day earlier than scheduled, due to the predicted weather conditions in Boston) to meet the band in Barcelona. We’ve had wonderful concerts in Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Berlin, and Pforzheim so far. It’s nice to be performing new material with this band as well as visiting some of the older tunes from the book. I’m starting to realize how much of a perception change occurs towards previously played material when a handful of new tunes are thrown into the mix. I’ve been finding myself approaching the older tunes from a different improvisational angle in an effort to really get into the character of the piece while at the same time, pay close attention to the overall theme of the sets that we’ve played.

Live at the A Trane in Berlin. Photo by Anette and Arvo Wichmann. Their website can be found at http://www.photojazz.de/about.html

I’m also prepping for my debut as a leader at Sculler’s Jazz Club on March 15th!! Come out and hear some great music if you are in the Boston area!! The show will feature the fabulous singing of my wife Colleen Palmer!!

I recently recieved the news that I was named a 2011 Artist Fellow by the Massachusetts Cultural Council!! I’m really excited about this because it’s going to allow me to present a special project that I’ve had on the backburner for some time! Stay tuned for more news on that!

I’m currently in the process of ironing out some details with my potential endorsement with P. Mauriat Trumpets. I’ve been trying out one of their horns recently on this tour!!!

The movie that I starred in, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is still making the rounds at indie theatres nationwide and should be making it’s release to dvd in the spring so stay tuned!

And above all, I’m having a great time teaching at Berklee this semester. It’s a blessing for me to have a job going in 9-6 and coming home feeling so rewarded knowing that I’ve done what I can do to make the musical landscape more fertile for greatness.

Take care, and keep living in the light!!

Jason Palmer

Latest Review of Nothing to Hide by Russ Musto

Posted in jazz trumpet music, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2011 by pogo56


Nothing To Hide
Jason Palmer (SteepleChase)

Despite possessing a pure tone, virtuoso technique
and wide-ranging knowledge of the jazz canon, Jason
Palmer remains relatively unheralded.

Nothing To Hide, a fine followup to his impressive debut of originals Songbook, shows a similar adventurousness on a program of imaginative interpretations of classics by Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little, along with two of his own pieces performed with his regular working quintet of altoist Mike Thomas, guitarist Greg Duncan, bassist Lim Yang and drummer Lee Fish.

Opening with Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird Fly” Palmer
quickly demonstrates his innovative personality as an
arranger. Slowing down the tempo and changing the
time signature to a swinging 5/4 he makes the piece
his own, an excellent vehicle for his thoughtful
improvising, complemented by Thomas’ fiery alto.
Similarly intrepid orchestrations of Brown’s “Larue”
(interpolating the composer’s “Delilah” and an
original bass figure), Morgan’s “The Gigolo” (in 9/4
with another original bassline), Hubbard’s “Luana”
(slowing the tempo and melding it with his own
“Lower 9th Ward”) and Davis’ “Half Nelson”
(arranged by Fish in 9/4) display a penetrating
individuality. Only on Booker Little’s “Strength and
Sanity” does Palmer remain faithful to the original,
revealing a deep respect for the late trumpeter, whose
influence on his own compositional style is evident on
the originals “Nothing To Hide” and “Here And Now”

-the date’s most forward-looking entries.
At the Jazz Gallery Dec. 9th, the group (Mitsuru
Yoshizumi subbing for Yang) performed two sets of
intriguing originals and orchestrations (mainly
arrangements of songs by funk futurist Janelle Monáe)
that clearly identified Palmer as a visionary player
with an astounding vocabulary, playing music in a
uniquely personal voice, which while steeped in the
feats of the past, pushes inexorably towards tomorrow.

For more information, visit steeplechase.dk. Palmer is at
Jazz Standard Jan. 25th with Grace Kelly

Notes from the Road

Posted in Performance, Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by pogo56

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to let you know what I’m up to. I’m currently out on tour performing with Grace Kelly’s Quintet. We had our first gig at The Domicile in Pforzheim last night.

This club has been around for 30+ years and over the years many, many greats have performed there. I was talking to the owner Axel about the players who have come through and he mentioned Woody Shaw, Nat Adderley, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, Maynard Ferguson, etc. There were pictures of these players on one of the walls. He lives upstairs from his club and the dressing room is up in one of his flats. He also has a nice record collection in the dressing room, which is situated more like a living room in a home.

The gig was sooo much fun, great crowd and great music. There’s always special moments happening on stage and I never know when they’ll happen so the mystery of it all is very attractive to me. It’s one of the reasons I love this music.

I think I’m going to walk along the Danube today, it’s pretty nice out!! Next stop, Ingolstadt, Germany!!

Stay tuned!

J.P.