Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Phil Seaman

I remember going to the Cellar in Arlington Heights, Illinois as a young lad to see Cream. I liked Ginger Baker and I so enjoyed the band. Subsequently, I would grab any article that I saw in a magazine that talked about the group. Ginger talked about his idol, Phil Seaman and I set about finding out all that I could about him. There was very little available in the States, but in 1972, Phil joined Ginger in the group AIR FORCE. A double live LP was issued of the group. Both drummers play marvelously on the record.
Some years after that, I purchased a book entitled, PLAY LIKE ELVIS--How British Musicians bought the American Dream by Mo Foster. In it, the author relates a number of humorous stories about Phil during his playing days. The book is a good read and I recommend it, if you can find a copy.
In any case, I began to search out more information about Phil. He had a varied career, playing everything from theater shows ( West Side Story), jazz groups ( Tubby Hayes), and Rock groups (Air Force). His playing was forceful, yet flowing.
In Ginger Bakers Drum tutor, Phil is quoted and Ginger offers some quite useful rudimental exercises that he picked up from him. Again, if you can find a copy, buy it.
Phil passed away in 1972 at the age of 46. Search him out....he was a great player

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Frank Isola

The old Downbeat magazine is dated March 30, 1961. It is the 5th annual percussion issue. In it is an article by Don DeMicheal call THE EVOLUTION OF THE DRUM SOLO. There are many familiar names quoted in the article with an analysis of drum styles. But there is one drummer whose name was not familiar to me---Frank Isola.
I was curious and began to search him out. There is an old Stan Getz recording on Prestige called Stan Getz jazz classics. This record was a re-issue. It was originally called Early Stan and the recordings were done in 1953. The drumming duties were split between Shadow Wilson and Frank Isola. I was familiar with the great Shadow Wilson but Frank's drumming is a revelation. It was tasteful, swinging, elegant even.
In the aforementioned article, Mr. DeMicheal called Frank " a representative of the Cool School of drumming. " His recordings with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, and John Williams bear this out.
Frank was from the Detroit area. I don't believe he ever left Detroit. He played throughout the city during his career. Many drummers are not familiar with Frank's playing and it's a shame. He was a great player.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Louie Bellson

I've seen Louie Bellson perform live more than any other drummer. When he appeared at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, I would attend every show and chat with him between sets. He was a wealth of knowledge and I so enjoyed talking to him. He would talk about musicians and other drummers.

In particular, I remember him mentioning Dave Tough, Woody Herman's drummer, who used a beat up old ride cymbal in the band. Flip Phillips, the great saxophonist, said that Dave could " drive a man to orgasm" just by playing that ride cymbal. Louie was a great man and a greater musician. I miss him.

Max Mariash--My drum teacher

I've already mentioned Max on my website, but it bears repeating. He was a great player and a marvelous teacher. He was well known in the drum community. When Buddy Rich gave a drum clinic in Chicago, Max was mentioned as being in the audience. Buddy immediately acknowledged him.
As mentioned on my web site, Louis Bellson knew him well. They both studied at the Roy Knapp percussion school.
Max enjoyed talking with other drummers about their drumming. I remember Max telling me that he spent some time talking with Rufus Jones when he was touring with Duke Ellington. Max was always curious about what other drummers were studying---how they were trying to improve their playing. He was a one of kind drummer and musician. I feel extremely fortunate to have known him and studied with him.