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You all know how much I love Steve Jordan. So it was an absolute treat to spend a couple hours yesterday afternoon watching his Memphis Drumshop webcast with bassist Leroy Hodges. I knew it was happening and then forgot about it and then remembered again in time to not miss it, so I apologize for not giving more of a head’s up on this blog (in case you would have wanted to see it but didn’t know it happened). Hopefully it will turn up on Youtube, though I haven’t found it yet.
Anyway, as soon as the webcast got started I realized that taking notes would be worth the effort, so this post will basically be a bunch of excerpts from my notes on the webcast.
First of all, some great one-liner quotes from Jordan…
“Good music grows with age… like a fine wine… it’s gets better and better over time.”
“I made a pact with myself that I was going to play with as many people as possible, and that includes every genre”
“I don’t call myself a jazz drummer or a rock drummer or whatever… that’s somebody else’s tool… that’s not how I think of music. Punk music is just a funky as funk music sometimes… jazz used to be pop… it’s all just excellent music.”
“In my opinion, the whole vocabulary for the modern jazz drummer was created by Philly Joe Jones”
“When you’re making music with other people and you know it’s working, you just gotta keep it going”
“Simplicity is not the same as stupidity”
“You have to stay true to what you’re doing and not think about all this other stuff that shouldn’t come into the picture for you while you’re on the seat”
Next up, some general notes…
– The snare tone Jordan had for this webcast setup is killer, and from what I can tell it’s only gaff tape (he explicitly states that he’s not using his wallet). You can see gaff tape muffling (and the roll of gaff sitting on the floor tom) in the photo above (which I grabbed from @IdHitThatPod’s twitter post).
– Also regarding the setup, I noticed the absence of a reso head on his kick drum, as well as a coated batter head on the kick drum. Both of these are somewhat uncommon but becoming more common.
– Also regarding technique, I really enjoyed the use of the rack tom as a right hand constant (hihat, ride, etc) during the intro of “Take Me To The River,” and the rest of that tune had killer cross-stick tone (probably due to the upside down left hand stick).
– Last technique note: Did anyone notice the hihat left foot 8ths while simultaneously playing right hand 8ths on the hihats? I think he did it during his rendition of the “I Gotta Woman” groove. CRA. ZY.
– Jordan played no crashes on any of the first tune he and Leroy performed. He used only a couple of bell hits at the beginning and end. This is surely due to the nature of the song itself, but it worked really well for the sonic environment of only drums and bass.
– The groove from JMT’s “I Gotta Woman” is apparently stolen from Sly Stone’s “You Can Make It If You Try,” which Jordan references as a “Northern California thing.” Does anyone know what he means by that?
– The first Yamaha Club Custom kit was made specifically for Jordan and his band the Verbs, and was even designed by Jordan himself. I didn’t know this.
– Some guy named Jim Pettit from Memphis gave Steve a 13″ Ludwig piccolo snare (a wood drum) that is the driest piccolo Steve has ever heard. Anybody have ideas on what model this drum is?
Lastly, some quotes from the webcast with commentary from me…
When asked what the most important lesson is for upcoming musicians, Hodges answered: “Not to overplay… stay in your lane… don’t try to be a star.” Jordan echoed this with “it’s the humility aspect.” This is a huge aspect of understanding and successfully fighting drummer disease.
“When I play with Sonny Rollins, he really likes the sound of my Paiste Traditional cymbals.” Well, that’s because Paiste Traditionals absolutely rule. A glowing endorsement from the legendary Sonny Rollins should be enough validation for anybody.
“What the 17’s do for me is, they actually blend with the drums better for me, they’re meatier sounding, lower in pitch, and if I’m playing jazz (plays uptempo for about 32 bars, switching from ride to hats halfway thru) it gives my versatility… and then the swampy thing is big and mushy sounding… There was a period of time where I just got tired of the hihats, and I got kinda annoyed with it, and I was starting to get bigger and bigger, and the 17’s made a big difference.” I can personally relate to every point he makes here, at least as far as the 16’s I’ve been lately. I think I’ll see about grabbing some 17’s soon just because of this quote.
“The concept behind a drum kit is to have them all resound together”… “when isolation became paramount the sound changed, which is cool for certain records, but there are certain things you can’t do with that sound.” Notice that he doesn’t slam isolation as being completely worthless, and neither does he trumpet the resounding “togetherness” thing as being always better. There’s a time and a place for everything.
“We’re in an era of music where everything is being corrected… most pop music is based on programs (click track and metronome-based)… what that does is it takes out some of the human aspect of the great recordings that we love… your heart doesn’t just beat the same beat all the time, you get excited your heart rate goes up! And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have good time… that’s the difference between time and the POCKET. I do advocate working on your time so you can develop steady time… you need excellent time, and that’s something that you work at”… “but Brown Sugar ends 20bpm faster than it starts… does that matter? Would you change it for a take that stayed steady?” This quote was in the midst of a ton of goldmine comments about click and time and perfect vs breathing and that whole discussion. I would love to hear more from Jordan on this topic, only because I feel like I might possibly disagree with him. Is he trying to say that the programmed grooves that are used heavily in today’s pop music are simply NOT very grooving? I don’t think he would say that, but the discussion kinda leans that way. I do love his distinction between time and pocket though, which is an important thing for all of us to remember. The pocket is the point. The pocket is the goal.
It’s very difficult for me to overstate how much I admire Steve Jordan.
Today’s lesson in super killing pocket is brought to you by a young Steve Jordan and his shuffle groove…
Note the quarters only on the ride, and the ILL snare tone.
Yamaha’s got some cool new drums in the Club Custom series, and the main attraction here is a “new” wood called Kapur. And then we have the Brady guys using exotic woods from Australia, and the recent popularity of non-maple kits (birch, mahogany, bubinga). It really seems like drum manufacturing is going through a material evolution, following the design evolution in the late 90’s. I’m super interested to hear these new Yamahas, as well as anything else that may come from this new direction in drum-making.
… for constantly mentioning Steve Jordan on this blog. He’s the man. Why wouldn’t I post tons of stuff about him? The issue is settled.
There’s lots of fresh youtube footage of him lately, coming off John Mayer’s recent tour. Apparently the setlist included a Jordan solo as the intro to “Waiting on the World to Change,” which was of course different from night to night. I may or may not have just spent the last 2 hours watching all the clips I could find.
Here are my favorite ones…
ps… Is it just me or does he look A LOT like Elvin Jones with this haircut?
You all know how much I love Steve Jordan’s playing. And frankly, everyone else should love it too.
But regardless whether or not you love it, you’re going to learn something from this interview with him in last month’s DRUM! magazine. In other news, it just occured to me that the word “drum” in all caps with an exclamation point after it is an odd name for a magazine, though I guess it fits.
Apparently John Mayer played a full hour-long set at the Ed Sullivan Theater last Thursday, during the taping of the Letterman Show, but the performance was only broadcast in it’s entirety on the CBS website. So, check out CBS.com to watch it.
I have to say, Mayer himself doesn’t sound very good, but the band is killing it, and Steve Jordan especially (of course).
Those of you who read this blog know what a Steve Jordan fan I am, so you can guess how disappointing it is to find out only TODAY that Jordan was playing drums (and MD-ing) last night’s Emmy Award Show on CBS. I totally missed the whole thing. Dang it.
But, I did manage to find this footage of the band’s studio prep for the show, which also includes some great insight into the LA session scene. I’m not having any luck finding actual band footage from the event, but you can at least hear them on this clip of the opening number. Note how Jordan sounds so comfortable playing a groove that’s so far from what he’s known for.
Ok, here’s the deal…
I realize I post stuff on this blog about John Mayer a lot. What can I say… I like him. I’m not a groupie or anything – I just respect his musicianship/songwriting. That, and Continuum is one of my favorite records ever. If I am totally honest, though, the main reason I’m so into his stuff lately is STEVE EFFING JORDAN on drums. Seriously, I love Steve Jordan’s playing, and Mayer’s music is the main place to see Jordan at work for the past few years.
I’ve seen Jordan’s instructional DVD a couple times, which is rad. I also have a live Mayer DVD that has Jordan on a few tracks (Where The Light Is), but aside from that I’ve not found much footage of him. So, I am super pumped to have just now discovered a bazillion clips of him on youtube that I’ve not found before. I spent the last few hours watching them, and the good ones are listed below. Do yourself a favor and watch them ALL before you go to sleep tonight, and I bet you will wake up to find you are a better drummer because of it…
Some vintage Steve Jordan – a television performance w/ Jeffy Healey, circa early 80’s… (I feel like this might be from SNL during the era when Jordan held that drum chair). UPDATE: a recent commenter pointed out that this might in fact be Omar Hakim on drums, not Steve Jordan. Interesting.
Recording John Mayer’s “Stitched Up” with Herbie Hancock – this is a clip from a documentary on Herbie’s mulit-collaboration album from a few years ago called Possibilities. The Jordan footage ends around the 5:30 mark…
Recording Sting’s “Sister Moon” with Herbie Hancock – another segment from the Possibilities documentary, this time featuring Sting, Cyro Baptista (perc), and John Patitucci (bass). The pattern in the groove on this tune is sick.
Demonstrating a Sheryl Crow track – a clip from Jordan’s instructional DVD, The Groove Is Here.
Jamming with Danny Kortchmar and Bernie Worrell – this is apparently an outtake from The Groove Is Here.
Jamming in John Mayer’s home studio – I found this video on Mayer’s blog, which is dedicated to chronicling the creation of his new record, Battle Studies.
Performing “Don’t Need No Doctor” w/ Mayer and John Scofield – Jay Leno show
JMT… “Who Did You Think I Was” – the official video release of the first “John Mayer Trio” single. This performance totally rips.
JMT… “Wait Until Tomorrow” – the Hendrix tune on Jimmy Kimmel, from back when the John Mayer Trio was first formed.
JMT… “Bold As Love” – more Hendrix, this one from a Tsunami benefit teledrive. Check out Mayer’s response to his own mistake at 2:51…
JMT… “Cissy Strut” – the Meter’s tune from another teledrive, this time for Katrina. Jordan rocks a cocktail kit on this, and manages to actually make it sound super hip.
JMT… “Out Of My Mind” – another performance from the early days of JMT, from the Live @ Launch program. The image is pretty grainy, but the performance of this tune is one of the best I’ve heard.
JMT… “Come When I Call” – a blues tune from the Where The Light Is DVD. The pocket on this is huge, and Pino’s playing is just unreal. Snare hit on “1” at 2:28 is oh so perfect.
Finally, there was apparently a JMT television performance that has some affiliation with “Network Live,” as I found a handful of videos from the same show all bearing that logo. The “Jam” is my fav, but unfortunately the audio/visual timing is a little off on that one…
“I Got A Woman”
“Good Love Is On The Way”