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Reviews Written by
J. R. Curtis "Drummer" (Nottinghamshire, England)

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For Musicians Only
For Musicians Only
Price: £4.80

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Bebop, 19 Jan. 2012
This review is from: For Musicians Only (Audio CD)
For Musicians Only is the epitome of the bebop movement. Gillespie, Stitt and Getz are on top form. The rhythm section of Ray Brown on the double bass and the outstanding Stan Levy on drums create a driving, solid feel throughout, while John Lewis's piano playing, and some haunting guitar (especially on Dark Eyes) from Herb Ellis complete a truly unforgettable album.

The album is a "one take" album, meaning that the musicians arrived at the studio and pressed record. Levy described it as "seat of your pants stuff - step up to the bandstand or go home", and the energy, verging on ferocity of the tracks, especially the truly blazing "Bebop" reflect this. The atmosphere, pace and virtuosity of this track alone make the album worth the price, but with two other uptempo bop vamps and Dark Eyes, possibly the hardest swinging track ever recorded, this album becomes a must.

The aforementioned atmosphere is completed by touches only found one-take albums; instruments change in pitch and volume as the soloist rushes into position; the changes in timbre between the trumpet, alto and tenor saxes is hauntingly refreshing, while the overall musicianship often makes it difficult indeed to turn this album off.

This is essential listening for any bebop fan, any fan of any of the seven virtuoso musicians involved, and probably essential listening for any musician hoping to catch a glimpse of what it's all really about. Buy this album right now.

Tom Hapke: 66 Drumsolos for the Modern Drummer
Tom Hapke: 66 Drumsolos for the Modern Drummer
by Tom Hapke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

2.0 out of 5 stars A weak collection, 18 July 2011
Out of the advertised 66, one of the solos in this book is worth exploring. Unfortunately, that happens to be the final one in the book, so anybody working through this in order will probably be too bored to make it that far.

The pros of this book are worth mentioning. It is very beginner friendly, with the clear notation even colour coded. This will surely help with reading. The "solos" are actually transcribed grooves, usually a page or two in length, interlaced with some nice embellishments and fills. For a learner, they will certainly provide some inspiration, and the progressive difficulty will mean that something is generally being learnt on each page.

However, they are far, far too simplistic. Anybody who has seen a solo, a proper drum solo, by great players such as Colaiuta, Weckl, Mangini and the like, and come to this book looking for some ideas, will be sourly dissapointed. As I have said already, these "solos" are really just and extended transcription of a groove with embellishments. There is no conceptual analysis, no dynamic texture, nothing remotely exciting, in this book.

For a beginner, this could be a useful book, especially for those trying to improve their sight reading. For anyone further down the path, I cannot recommend this book.

Advanced Concepts: A Comprehensive Method for Developing Technique, Contemporary Styles and Rhythmical Concepts, Book, CD & Charts [With 90-Minute CD
Advanced Concepts: A Comprehensive Method for Developing Technique, Contemporary Styles and Rhythmical Concepts, Book, CD & Charts [With 90-Minute CD
by Kim Plainfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden gem, 18 July 2011
I am surprised that this book has not received reviews already. This is indeed a book of advanced concepts, and each chapter provides an enormous amount to be getting on with. Each of the said chapters deals with a specific concept; on this, it is worth providing an example.

The Baiao section demonstrates the basic foot ostinato. We are then invited to refer to the accompanying chart which is filled with one-voice rhythms. By keeping a steady single stroke roll on the snare, over the foot ostinato, we are to accent the strokes that fall on the notes on the chart. We can then double the interim notes, play them as triplets, etc.

Following this, we are shown numerous examples of Baiao ride patterns for the right hand. The left hand then plays the rhythms on the chart on the snare drum. Not only is this very good for co-ordination, but before we know it, we are playing Weckl-esque latin. The idea of these exercises is to free our limbs to be able to play creatively within a certain style. This Baiao section is one of a large chapter, which goes on to cover the author's five essential afro-cuban styles, all with hand and foot patterns and exercises using the rhythm chart.

There are chapters for rudiments, funk, swing, shuffle, samba, Baiao, afro-cuban and solo concepts, all which utilise a structured regimen and the accompanying rhythmic chart. All together, this works very well. Some advance books leave the student wondering what and how to practice; this book does not. It recommends exactly what and how to practice, and provides the tools to do so.

Finally, the accompanying CD features Mr. Plainfield (an excellent player) demonstrating every single one of the exercises in the book.

I cannot recommend this to the beginner, as a strong foundation is required, as well as a maturity to work through and fully understand the material. This is not a book one could open and have a bash with for ten minutes before doing something else. The material must be understood, absorbed and worked upon, and the gains will be enormous. For the drummer wishing to take their playing to new levels and expand their understanding, this book comes highly recommended.

Art of Bop Drumming (Manhattan Music Publications)
Art of Bop Drumming (Manhattan Music Publications)
by John Riley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Jazz Education, 18 July 2011
John Riley, as his DVD suggests, is a Master Drummer. His work with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is Grammy award winning, and his university tenure, experience and back catelogue make him an absolute authority on the subject covered in this book.

The book itself is succinct in its presentation, informative, and endlessly mature, providing recommendations for practice methods, essential listening, and a wealth of exercises. The accompanying CD comes with demonstrations and some backing tracks of varying difficulty and styles, from a lazy swing, through a 3/4 waltz, a latin romp, and a 300bpm uptempo blaze.

There's little more to say that would not be repeating what the other reviews have already covered. If you are looking to step into the world of jazz drumming, proper jazz drumming, this book is certainly for you. It comes from a highly recommended source (Mr. Riley himself), is refreshingly mature, and the exercises of increasing complexity will not only embellish and revitalise your playing, but provide you with endless hours of practice material.

Finally, as if it's not good enough already, this book has a follow up called Beyond Bop Drumming, which is also worthy of 5 stars. This means that if you exhaust this book, the sequel is ready to take over.

Highly, highly recommended.

Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business [With CDROM]
Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business [With CDROM]
by Richard Stim
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this book in the United Kingdom, 9 Jun. 2011
Annoyingly, nothing on this product page informs the customer that this book is about United States law, and is NOT applicable to the United Kingdom. Considering this is a UK shop, this is bad form by Amazon. I have been in contact with the author directly, by whom I have been advised to return the book immediately.

This review does not reflect the quality of the product. Be warned: THIS BOOK IS NOT APPLICABLE TO UK LAW.

Silver Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses with Fully Reflective Lenses Men's and Women's Fashion
Silver Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses with Fully Reflective Lenses Men's and Women's Fashion
Offered by Premier Life Store
Price: £2.10

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor. Don't be fooled., 7 Sept. 2010
I bought a pair of these sunglasses based on the generally positive reviews and the image placed on this website. Unfortunately, I am now regretting that decision. Firstly, these sunglasses are not "fully mirrored". In various lights they are almost completely transparent. They aren't dark enough to be much good in a full sun, and the frame is flimsy and cheap. I recommend you avoid these.

Vic Firth 5A American Hickory Wood Tip Drumsticks
Vic Firth 5A American Hickory Wood Tip Drumsticks
Price: £7.49

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Industry Standard, 21 Feb. 2010
Vic Firth is the name that any serious drummer should look to when buying drum sticks. They provide a full catalogue of sticks, from the almighty Corpsmasters to the 5a work horse. Unfortunately, they are not immediately available to drummers in the United Kingdom, but thankfully, Amazon stocks the one stick that should be on every shelf, the Vic Firth American Hickory 5a.

Aside from a distinct excellence in quality, choice of wood, variety of style and general build quality, Vic Firth sticks just feel nicer. Some stick manufacturers opt for a glossy finish, whereby the stick appears to be varnished. While obviously a subjective matter, I feel that this provides an impersonality between the player and the stick. Vic Firths have an almost matt, unvarnished finish, which sits comfortably and snugly in the hand, and feels as smooth as silk.

It should be noted that Vic Firths, if played hard, will break just like any other stick. They aren't made from carbon fibre or cast iron, and they will break. They will chip, scratch, and splinter with use. However, this is an industry normality, and you may find that chosing a superior stick will delay the inevitable a fair bit.

This is the industry standard for drummers without specific tastes (such as the ultra thin 7a sticks, or the fat 2b sticks etc.), and the price makes these pro-quality sticks a steal.

Four Days in June
Four Days in June
by Iain Gale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too frustrating to finish, 27 May 2009
This review is from: Four Days in June (Paperback)
The three stars awarded by this review need to be taken as an entry point. A star could be added or removed either way depending on the person. This book has some very good points, amply picked up on by other reviewers.

For example, Mr. Gale has clearly done his research, and has a wealth of information both about the campaign, and the army itself. You easily get the impression that every detail you read is important or historical, and this adds well to the immersion of the book. Mostly, the writing is good and interesting.

However, it is the bad points that are, sadly, terminal to this book. Firstly, I shall start by asserting that while writing this, I would imagine that Mr. Gale would have had to switch off his grammar check in order to avoid a page full of green underlines. He has an infuriating habit of using full stops as commas, producing a paragraph full of staccato, inflowing pseudo-sentences.

"Smiled wryly."
"Walked to the hilltop. Surveyed. Had seen this before."

These are not a sentences. Annoyingly, Mr. Gale utilises this literary device excessively, and I found myself scanning down the page for further instances of it rather than enjoying the text. All too often, I found them paragraph, after paragraph, after paragraph.

Secondly, Mr. Gale's knowledge of the army can work against him in some instances. While he is very accurate and very technical with his description of events, if the reader is unaware of the difference between a brigade, a battalion and a corps. or between a rifle regiment, a light regiment and a foot regiment, they will have a very difficult time picturing exactly what is happening.

This confusion also occurs during the actual periods of action and battle. By midway through the book, I had already experienced numerous accounts of characters observing piles of dead and wounded, and I hadn't been aware that a battle had taken place. All that had been described was a certain regiment advancing, and a description of musket balls. With the addition of the following objection, this makes following the action very hard.

As has been already hinted upon by other reviewers, the maps included with this book are useless. Day One starts with a map for Day Two, Day Two starts with a map for Day Four, and Day Three starts with a second, different map for Day Four. None of them seem to have any adherence to the story, or the characters that is follows, so trying to pinpoint the action on the map is impossible.

To conclude this rather concise review, I wanted to enjoy this book, and I attempted to persevere, but the incessant ungrammatical, short sentences, confusing periods of action and the useless maps just made the effort of finishing to the conclusion too tiresome. Perhaps if the conclusion wasn't already known, I would have finished to the end just to find out, but as this is not the case, I shall refer to a different author, or perhaps a non-fictional account of the campaign.

If the reader doesn't mind the author's writing habits, has a good grasp of early-19th century army and battlefield knowledge, or is a causal reader after a good novel, then perhaps a 4th star could be added to this book.

However, if, like me, the reader wishes to read decent literature, is annoyed by incorrect grammar or clumsy writing, and is not a military expert, then I couldn't give this book more than 2 stars.

The Ultramarines Omnibus (Warhammer 40, 000)
The Ultramarines Omnibus (Warhammer 40, 000)
by Graham McNeill
Edition: Paperback

28 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good literature, 23 July 2007
First of all, a little about me. I am a big fan of Black Library fiction, having ready many different series, from the fantastic Eisenhorn and Ravenor sets, through the Grey Knights, Blood Angels, Eldar Prophecy etc. etc.

I am also a fan of quality literature in general, enjoying classics such as Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, a lot of the older Discworld novels, and some great philosophy works.

Now, how this relates to this Ultramarines Omnibus is this: The Ultramarines Omnibus fails both as a piece of Warhammer 40,000 fiction, and as a piece of literature at all.

Firstly, a lot of the "fluff" of the fictional Warhammer universe is ignored. The protagonist, Uriel Ventris, we are told, is an Ultramarines Veteran Captain. He is war hardened after centuries of warfare against the horrors of the universe. Yet, time and time again, we see him showing irrational fear, explicit sensitivity, and a distinct lack of comprehension. Considering this man is a veteran captain, he rarely understands what is going on around him, being constantly "confused", "bewildered" or "paralysed with fear".

Now don't get me wrong, fear, confusion and the like are all fine sensations for a protagonist to feel... that is if they a) don't contradict with the core design of the character they represent [ie. space marines] and b) aren't contradicted by an adjective in the following line. Let me give you an example of this book, condensed into a few sentences:

"Uriel, a hardened veteran of many centuries of warfare, genetically enhanced to fight, fearless, peerless, invincible, strode forward over the trench. His second captain leaped over behind him and followed him in the charge. Suddenly an enemy jumped up in front of him, and both space marines felt paralysing bolts of fear nail them to the spot. They then proceeded to dramatically destroy the enemy. Uriel looked his Captain in the eye, leaned in close, and whispered softly.. 'I love you'".

This may look as though I am overacting, or just taking the mick, but I really can't stress enough how ridiculous this book is. The author, who I have to say has produced much finer pieces of work than this, constantly reuses the same adjective numerous times in one paragraph, the same phrase numerous times in one chapter, and the same, recycled series of events numerous times throughout the book.

So to summarise: this book is badly written, creates a "non-fluff", contradictory account of the protagonist who is whiny, thick and annoying, and yet manages to fill out a thousand pages. I honestly found myself that Uriel Ventris would just shut up and die, yet his "honourable sensitivity" prevailed time and time again, and I just got sick of it.

If you bought this book, you would probably enjoy it. You would get your kick of Ultramarines glorification, gore, and the heroes triumphing. What you will not get is an in depth exploration of characters of emotions, a rewarding and intelligent piece of literature, or an original and satisfying excursion into a fantastic fictional universe.

Buy at your own peril, but I would really recommend spending your money on the Eisenstein omnibus, and leaving this one for dead.

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