Thread: Alex Riel here!
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Old 08-04-2006, 11:18 AM
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Alex Riel Alex Riel is offline
Drummerworld Pro Drummer
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Denmark
Posts: 34
Default Re: Alex Riel here!

Hi Gregg,

Oh, and uh, remember when I asked you what cymbals you were playing on all the Steeplechase stuff, and remember you answered me? Could you answer that same question again, as I seemed to have forgotton where it was I asked you and can't find the reply!
Thanks again,
I found it for ya. It's from an email you send me some time ago! You asked me some other interesting questions there as well so I thought I'd post them all in case anyone else could be interested :) ...

I have what may be a silly question to start: what does DSB Kino
mean? I know that Kino is the German word for Cinema
and there's a screen on the front of the album. I
guess what I'm asking is, if that's the right
definition, what's the DSB?

You're right, Kino does mean cinema. The DSB stands for the "Danske Stats Baner" (!) which is the Danish Rail company. When I was a kid in the 40s-50s there was a cinema called DSB KINO at the main railway station in Copenhagen, Denmark. I used to go there a lot to watch these old movie clips with Frank Sinatra singing in front of a big band. I noticed a crisp sounding trumpet that made a great impression on me. Then years later I was playing as the house drummer in the jazzhouse Montmartre in Copenhagen where a lot of American musicans performed during the 60's and 70s. One night I was accompanying this trumpet player ... and recognized exactly THAT sound!!!! I asked him (Harry Sweets Edison) if he'd ever played with Sinatra which he had of course. But I still didn't get it, cos all the members of the big band I had seen with Sinatra were white, and Sweets was black? He then told me that back then black musicians were not allowed to be seen in the movies. So while the music heard was played by black musicians (incl. Sweets) the musicians seen on the screen would be white!!! Of course that made a deep impression on a young Dane like me who were not used to racial segregation. And that's why it meant a lot to me to include that story in the cd.

What cymbals were you using on the Steeplechase stuff?
Do I hear the same cymbals on most of it?

I can't remember too well, but - except for one Ziljian Avedis 22" ride with lots of rivets (that I put there myself) - they were all PAISTE.
I recall a 22" ride Formula 602, and a 20" flat ride Formula 602 which I'm still using. The hi-hat was always a 14" .. but various types (from Paiste as well).

What do you want from the cymbals you use, I know you
tend to like sizzle cymbals and flat rides, but any
other particulars?

I tend to like a dark sound that somehow can form a "foundation" for the whole sound of the group ... like a carpet of sound underneath it all (My god, this is hard to express in English for me!). Some sizzle cymbals can do just that. It's also important to me that the cymbal has a distinct "stick-sound" ... that you can hear what's being played.
You know, the original Zildjian K cymbals that were made in Tyrkey are generally too thin to play for me. But I've been fortunate to find a few that were thicker, and those were just GREAT. They had that dark and distinct sound I like .. and helped the stick to bounce. I once played Tony William's K cymbal (the one he played with Miles on several recordings) and that cymbal had it all!
The 20" Paiste 602 flat ride w. rivets - even though it has a quite light sound - is especially great behind bass solos. Niels-Henning always wanted me to play just that! (for some reason this particular cymbal sound has always reminded me of ice crystals!)
But you know how it is ... I'll always be looking out for new cymbals, but tend to go back to the "old" ones I know and love the most.

Btw these are the cymbals I'm playing today (and have been playing for a while):
- Paiste 14" Dimension light hi-hat.
- 20" flat ride w. rivets, Paiste Formula 602
- 22" ride, Paiste prototype (not in production)
- 20" ride/crash from China (I believe this type is called "Cobra" today ...the quality varies a lot. THIS one is excellent though!)
- plus another 20" ride Paiste prototype, the "decorated" one in the videoclip with me (Bernhard's cymbal!)

How did you approach playing with Dexter? My old
teacher Joe Hunt played with him once and said it
required a lot of concentration since Dexter laid back
so much? How about Bill Evans?

That's right, Dexter played very laid back but the rest of us kept the tempo .. and that tension made it sound so good I think. He once asked me what I was listening to, when I listened to records, and I couldn't really answer him. Then he replied to me "I can hear that!". And so he told me how important it was for me to listen to what the pianist was playing in certain parts of the tune. I should follow that with my left hand. When I started doing just that my drumming took a major step forward, and I realised that this was what Philly Joe and the other guys were doing!
Dexter was very kind to teach me stuff. Once in Stockholm we did two weeks at the Golden Circle club and one late night he called me up and kept me on the phone for hours teaching me. He wanted me to learn how to go from the A part (two-beat played on the hi-hat) of "Shiny Stockings" to the bridge (ride cymbal, full rhythm 4/4) and back. I tended to go up in tempo during the bridge! I can clearly recall his deep voice on phone .... singing "Shiny Stockings" repeatedly that night!"
He taught me so much about playing drums!
Bill Evans was in some way completely opposite to Dexter. He was up there on the beat all the time. And since I tend to be up there myself I sometimes got the feeling I was rushing. That worried me, so I asked him about it. I remember he told me "don't worry about keeping the tempo...just go where the music takes you. Follow the music!" That's how HE played. He (we) would rush sometimes (I wouldn't reallly notice till I heard it on tape) ... but the music was so great!!! He was the one who introduced me to poly-rhytmics by the way. Wow, what a shock that was!!!
Bill Evans was a very, very sweet and helpful guy, and one of my biggest influences. I can't even begin to describe how much playing with him and Eddie Gomez meant to me. After having toured with them in Europe in the mid 60s he actually asked me to come live in the States and join his trio permanently! I couldn't leave Denmark at that time. But what an opportunity!

I know you're a fan of playing in trios (as am I),
what draws you to them in particular?

Well, my experience with Bill Evans and Gomez definately meant that I came to love the piano trio. And I've really enjoyed other trio formats as well, for instance the "tenorsax-bass-drums" with Bergonzi/Lundgaard.
I guess to a drummer like me who likes (or at least tries!) to play very "melodic" the trio is a great place to both be heard and be quiet!

Who do you consider to be your biggest drumming

Of the "old" ones it would definately be Big Sid Catlett!!! Also guys like Zutty Singleton, Gene Krupa, George Wettling, Osie Johnson, Gus Johnsen, Alvin Stoller, Philly Joe, Roy Haynes etc. When Tony Williams came along I was of course blown away by his new "style" and he inspired me a lot. But besides Big Sid Catlett noone has meant as much to me as ELVIN JONES did!!!!

Best wishes and tons of triplets
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