Summit of Great Gretsch Drummers

For years my friend and mentor, drummer Phil Hey, has been telling me about the 1973 Gretsch Drum Summit in Central Park that he was lucky enough to attend. I’ve often daydreamed about being there and how unbelievable it would be to see Elvin Jones, Mel Lewis, Freddie Waits, and Papa Joe Jones all in the same afternoon. Incredible!

In telling me about that afternoon, Phil raved about Papa Joe’s solo hi-hat performance and that Jones joked from stage that his solo was a “TKO: Time Killer Only.”

There’s a great post on the official Gretsch site with lots of detail about this afternoon. Better yet is that audio is available! This may be old news to some of you, but it’s new to me so I thought it’s worth sharing.

You can find the audio on Wolfgang’s vintage archive. If you click on the large “play” button at the top of the page you’ll get the impression that you can only listen to samples. Don’t let that fool you. Clicking on each track will allow you to listen to the entire thing and I believe you can also purchase the recording.

This is a real treasure and I’m thrilled to have discovered it after hearing about it all these years.

Cachao Documentary

TDK cassette tape with Cachao written on it. Below is the case that reads Mongo and Misc / Cachao

I’ve been going through a box of old cassette tapes, which are mostly gig recordings and drum clinics made on a pretty awful tape recorder. Some of you may remember the Max Roach clinic I posted a few years ago.

The Cachao tape pictured here was given to me by one of my high school teachers and mentors (Gordy Knudtson), probably around the time that I bought the Latin Sounds book; late 80s or early 90s. It was my way in to learning about Afro-Cuban / “Latin” music. Not a bad start!

Finding this cassette sent me down a rabbit hole and I discovered the PBS American Masters documentary, Cachao: Uno Mas (2008). I’ll post it below and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Also highly recommended is podcast episode #323 of Discussions in Percussion where they talk to John Santos, who is featured in the Cachao documentary. That podcast is great and this episode alone is incredibly inspiring.


Elayne Jones Oral History

Thanks to Jonathan Singer from Third Floor Bazaar for ripping this CD and sharing on his YouTube page. I was not very familiar with Elayne and found this really fascinating. I hope you do as well.

Here’s a more recent article about Elayne with some photos.

Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame article and video.

Elayne Jones on Wikipedia.

Elayne’s New York Times obituary from December 2022.

Paul Motian Documentary

One of the many things I love about being a musician is the deep well of inspiration that will never stop providing if you keep an open mind and open ears.

I’ve known about Paul Motian and listened to his playing countless times with Bill Evans, but until a few years ago that’s about as far as I’ve gone. I think I subconsciously avoided his solo work because I was overwhelmed with where to start or how to wrap my head around it.

That was until I met Colin Stranahan after a gig in Minneapolis. He showed me one of his own original compositions and told me about how big of an influence Paul Motian has been on him, both as a drummer and musician. That made a big impression on me and as soon as I got home I ordered both volumes of The Compositions of Paul Motian and began listening to the Uncle Paul’s Jazz Closet podcast as a way to dive in.

Recently I was reminded about the Paul Motian documentary “Motian in Motion” and found it available online. It’s a beautiful film filled with wonderful footage of Paul both on and off the stage. There are too many great moments to mention and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Since watching the documentary I’ve been listening to Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band almost exclusively. Hearing familiar tunes is a really great path into his playing and will no doubt lead my ears down paths that I’ve yet to discover.