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  #1  
Old 07-14-2006, 01:05 AM
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catchagato catchagato is offline
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Default Al Foster

Has anyone been to Al Foster's bio page on this site? I notice that he sets up his cymbals fairly high and they tilt very steep and it's gotten me pretty curious as to why he does that. I think it's probably because he feels most comfortable playing that way, but do you get a better sound when you hit the cymbal when it's tilted at that angle? Or what? Lemme know what you guys think! Here's the link to his bio page:
http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Al_Foster.html
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  #2  
Old 07-14-2006, 01:40 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Ndugu Chancler also sets up his cymbals fairly high and tilts them the way Foster does. I tried it once and found it comfortable but my drum teacher said I was crasy, so I went back to a more traditional setting ... Here's the link to Ndugu Chancler page on Drummerworld:
http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers..._Chancler.html
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  #3  
Old 07-14-2006, 04:53 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

There are a couple reasons why he could be doing this.
1. Projection. At that angle, the sound of the ride is going directly into the audience, not down. Think of it as hearing the cymbal from the bottom only.

2. Look at how close he can put them to himself and his drums so as to reach any part of the cymbal without stretching. The edge or playing area isn't as far up as you think.

3. Stick attack. Like Jon Christensen, Al uses the 'tippin' technique on his cymbal- hitting the cymbal more with the tip of the bead rather than the full bead.

4. Feel. At that angle you are actually pushing the stick to the cymbal rather than letting it drop. Al (like Christensen, Eric Gravatt and others) obviously dig this.
Lochday, your drum teacher is wrong. If it was comfortable to you, then it was the right thing to do.

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  #4  
Old 07-14-2006, 05:55 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Thanks for some of your thoughts on this! I can see where you're going with the cymbal sound projecting outward toward the audience. It's like the bottom of the cymbals is like a speaker or a subwoofer, and if they're tilted vertically then the sound is just blasting out away from you and into the crowd. I never thought of it that way...
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  #5  
Old 07-14-2006, 07:56 AM
capnrusty capnrusty is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

I don't have anything to add other than that Al Foster swings his ass off on Blue Mitchell's album "The Thing to Do."

Gene Taylor plays the bass like a man. No amp, dammit!
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  #6  
Old 07-14-2006, 09:54 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Thanks Jazzgreg for your illuminating post. I suspected projection at that angle was modified the way you say but I was far from imagining the impact on feel, stick attack, and comfort. The reason why I stopped using the Al Foster cymbal setting is all what I read about how such a so-called bad vertical position of the cymbal was likely to impair its resonance and other things. I guess I'll try again the Foster way. Thanks again.
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  #7  
Old 07-14-2006, 12:42 PM
fly fly is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Ive been waiting for the Al Foster thread. It took me a little while to get into AL, but now Im hooked. Such a strong beat and one of the main things that I really like about him is how his listening really comes across in what hes playing, its always so direct and clear and creative. To my ears he sounds like hes coming directly from Max, Philly, Ed Blackwell, big emphasis on Blackwell and also Tony. Im not sayin he sounds like these cats and thats the beutiful thing is that Al Foster is moving things forword. No one tunes there drums like him also, Im not exactly sure on the exact degrees of the pitches but his way is kind of like a piano in some ways. I have heard that its pretty hard to watch him play though LOL, whatever like that really matters.
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  #8  
Old 07-14-2006, 04:21 PM
capnrusty capnrusty is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by fly
Ive been waiting for the Al Foster thread. It took me a little while to get into AL, but now Im hooked. Such a strong beat and one of the main things that I really like about him is how his listening really comes across in what hes playing, its always so direct and clear and creative. To my ears he sounds like hes coming directly from Max, Philly, Ed Blackwell, big emphasis on Blackwell and also Tony. Im not sayin he sounds like these cats and thats the beutiful thing is that Al Foster is moving things forword. No one tunes there drums like him also, Im not exactly sure on the exact degrees of the pitches but his way is kind of like a piano in some ways. I have heard that its pretty hard to watch him play though LOL, whatever like that really matters.

A buddy of mine met him in the market around the corner from Small's a few years ago. He told Al how much he liked that Blue Mitchell record. Al said that, at the time, he was infatuated with Art Taylor's playing. A.T. was known as THE cymbal guy, so maybe that's partly where Al's strong beat came from.

My other favorite Al Foster is on Joe Henderson's "The State of the Tenor" albums. Good stuff. Joe Hen said that Al was his all time favorite drummer to play with. That's quite an endorsement, coming from a guy who's played with Roy, Elvin, Tony, etc.!
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  #9  
Old 08-14-2006, 05:37 PM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Wow, I just found this thread about my idol and favorite drummer Al Foster.
I just bought my 64th Al Foster CD!!!!

The reason Al's cymbal is so tiltled is explained by him in his last MD interview. When he was young he saw Art Taylor drums on stage. Art had his cymbal tilted like that and it "looked" like it was real high. So he went home and did the same. Thing was Art sat real HIGH so the cymbal was actually at a normal height. Al said he just got into the habit and it stuck and that because its not good for his back he is trying to change it but....

I am going to see Al at the village vanguard at the end of the month. Ill make a little review of the gig here. Of course I cant wait to see and hear him.

Tom Killian
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  #10  
Old 08-14-2006, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkillian
Wow, I just found this thread about my idol and favorite drummer Al Foster.
I just bought my 64th Al Foster CD!!!!

The reason Al's cymbal is so tiltled is explained by him in his last MD interview. When he was young he saw Art Taylor drums on stage. Art had his cymbal tilted like that and it "looked" like it was real high. So he went home and did the same. Thing was Art sat real HIGH so the cymbal was actually at a normal height. Al said he just got into the habit and it stuck and that because its not good for his back he is trying to change it but....

I am going to see Al at the village vanguard at the end of the month. Ill make a little review of the gig here. Of course I cant wait to see and hear him.

Tom Killian
KingHarvest here----I read the same thing Tom about the cymbals. I have his playing on the Miles electric stuff and some great swinging on a Steve Kahn album.
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Last edited by SqueakySpeedKing; 08-14-2006 at 06:02 PM.
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  #11  
Old 08-14-2006, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkillian
Wow, I just found this thread about my idol and favorite drummer Al Foster.
I just bought my 64th Al Foster CD!!!!

The reason Al's cymbal is so tiltled is explained by him in his last MD interview. When he was young he saw Art Taylor drums on stage. Art had his cymbal tilted like that and it "looked" like it was real high. So he went home and did the same. Thing was Art sat real HIGH so the cymbal was actually at a normal height. Al said he just got into the habit and it stuck and that because its not good for his back he is trying to change it but....

I am going to see Al at the village vanguard at the end of the month. Ill make a little review of the gig here. Of course I cant wait to see and hear him.

Tom Killian
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2006, 02:03 AM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Thanks. Not to overkill the Al Foster thing ( I like lots of other drummers) but this is SO cool that people are even talking about him at drummerworld.

I have a VHS of the Verve Salutes the Jazz Masters Live at Carnegie Hall. Anyone ever see that? He plays with Christian McBride, Charlie Haden, Joe Henderson, Pat Metheny, Steven Scott, Roy Hargrove, Betty Carter.

Whew.....he is SO fun to watch...smiling the whole time like Billy Higgins (one of my other ALL TIME favorite drummers).

The Sound Creation Dark Ride is not miked to well and is kind of "trebley" and high pitched washy overtones...

My favorite part is watching him play the bossa nova with the brush on the tom tom (eight-two sixteenths) while playing the clave rythym on the snare rim as normal...very hip...I use that beat all the time.

His green yammies sound great though I think

okay back to normal
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  #13  
Old 08-15-2006, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

I agree it's nice to see Al Foster getting some recognition.....

I was reading an old MD article from the mod-80s the other day................In Foster's feature interview he was so modest -- what a down to earth guy!!!...... He kept praising Tony Williams and Steve Gadd, saying that he wasn't in their league............He also talked about how he was always trying to find HIS sound and do something unique on the drums. It was a really interesting article (unlike some MD interviews, which usually give a brief bio of the player, followed by a couple of decent questions, then a few pages about gear).

At that time, Foster said he wanted to play straight ahead stuff and didn't care if he played fusion any more... It was interesting just to hear him talk candidly about his weaknesses too............ For instance, he noted that in terms of hand technique, he rarely practiced single stroke rolls (because he said he was always really slow!), instead mainly just doubles................

I'd have to say it hasn't hurt his playing!!!!
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  #14  
Old 07-31-2007, 03:54 AM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

bump...

Well, I never made it to the Vanguard...

Its so weird Ive NEVER seen Al live and he is my favorite drummer!

I HAVE to do it...

Anyone ever see Al Foster live?
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  #15  
Old 08-06-2007, 10:08 AM
wy yung wy yung is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

I am so pleased to see an Al Foster thread. I've loved his playing since my earliest days. A great swinging, listening and thoughtful musician. I reckon he's one of the best. When his last interview in MD was out, I must admit I was sorry he wasn't the cover story.

64th Al Foster CD eh? Ha ha, many rockers make the cover of MD after putting out 5 or less albums. Bums on seats I suppose.
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  #16  
Old 08-07-2007, 06:07 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Anyone know what his situation is with cymbal endorsements? This video is supposedly from November 2004 and he's playing at least one Paiste:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=hnDWMJr6Qng

But he's listed as a Zildjian endorser. That date might not be accurate, or he may have recently switched, or he simply may not have had any kind of agreement before - I'm not sure.
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2007, 09:28 AM
the gayge the gayge is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

He's a Zildjian endorser and has been for some time, but I know he loves the paiste 602's. From what I understand his prized 602's were lost on a plane flight last year. Terrible stuff.

He could make garbage can lid sound incredible though.
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  #18  
Old 08-10-2007, 10:44 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzgregg View Post
2. Look at how close he can put them to himself and his drums so as to reach any part of the cymbal without stretching. The edge or playing area isn't as far up as you think.

4. Feel. At that angle you are actually pushing the stick to the cymbal rather than letting it drop. Al (like Christensen, Eric Gravatt and others) obviously dig this.
Lochday, your drum teacher is wrong. If it was comfortable to you, then it was the right thing to do.
I recently set up my ride on my 'big kit' this way, with a fairly extreme tilt to it, and so far I've found it to be very much to my liking, for the reasons you mention above. I'm close to the whole cymbal, don't have to reach for the bell, etc. Great ideas.
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  #19  
Old 08-13-2007, 12:59 AM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by the gayge View Post
He's a Zildjian endorser and has been for some time, but I know he loves the paiste 602's. From what I understand his prized 602's were lost on a plane flight last year. Terrible stuff.

He could make garbage can lid sound incredible though.
He doesnt play Paiste 602's. His favorite main ride has always been a Paiste Sound Creation Dark Ride 22" which he still uses mixed in with some Zildjians.
He had Zildjian "copy" his Sound Creation Dark Ride and they slapped a K logo on it.

They got pretty close(you can hear it on ScoLoHoFo) but the SCDR has its own thing going on...which sounds great!
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  #20  
Old 08-13-2007, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
He doesnt play Paiste 602's. His favorite main ride has always been a Paiste Sound Creation Dark Ride 22" which he still uses mixed in with some Zildjians.
He had Zildjian "copy" his Sound Creation Dark Ride and they slapped a K logo on it.
It sounds like you're saying he's a little bit slutty when it comes to endorsements. He just kind of goes with what he can get and what gives him the most pleasure.
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  #21  
Old 08-14-2007, 06:17 AM
the gayge the gayge is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

It sounds more like he plays what sounds the best to his ears, but like many musicians will accept help from those who are willing. Lots of working musicians do it.

Also, I'm near positive I read an article about him losing a bag full of his favorite 602's sometime over the past two years. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Thanks for the info on the SCDR though, I didn't know about that one.
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  #22  
Old 08-18-2007, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by the skin man View Post
It sounds like you're saying he's a little bit slutty when it comes to endorsements. He just kind of goes with what he can get and what gives him the most pleasure.
No it doesnt sound like that at all. You obviously know NOTHING about Al Foster...
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  #23  
Old 08-19-2007, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

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Originally Posted by tkillian View Post
bump...


Anyone ever see Al Foster live?


Yes in a trio with Steve Kuhn many years ago.
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  #24  
Old 08-19-2007, 06:29 AM
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
No it doesnt sound like that at all. You obviously know NOTHING about Al Foster...
I was just being a little goofy with that post. But seriously, I'm pretty sure that he if has an endorsement agreement with Zildjian he's not supposed to play Paiste cymbals in public. Maybe that's not something they really enforce or maybe that's not the way it works. Supposedly Neil Peart played a Wuhan china when he was endorsing Zildjian and apparently nobody at Zildjian objected. But now he's playing Sabian and he plays a Sabian china from his own signature line. I guess that's a little different because Neil Peart has his own Sabian line and he gets a percentage of the profits as far as I know. I've only seen Al Foster once, and from where I was sitting I couldn't tell what he was playing. Either way, he clearly makes them sound great.
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  #25  
Old 08-19-2007, 07:18 AM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Quote:
Originally Posted by the skin man View Post
I was just being a little goofy with that post. But seriously, I'm pretty sure that he if has an endorsement agreement with Zildjian he's not supposed to play Paiste cymbals in public. Maybe that's not something they really enforce or maybe that's not the way it works. Supposedly Neil Peart played a Wuhan china when he was endorsing Zildjian and apparently nobody at Zildjian objected. But now he's playing Sabian and he plays a Sabian china from his own signature line. I guess that's a little different because Neil Peart has his own Sabian line and he gets a percentage of the profits as far as I know. I've only seen Al Foster once, and from where I was sitting I couldn't tell what he was playing. Either way, he clearly makes them sound great.
Cool. I understand.
The thing about Al you have to understand is that he is so far above the business end of endorsements. He is about the music.
Bascially, I think he worked it out with Zildjian so that he plays some Z hihats and a crash but still keeps playing his Paiste ride. They tried to duplicate the sound but couldnt and Al is known for that signature ride sound.
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  #26  
Old 10-18-2007, 05:03 AM
tkillian tkillian is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Bump time

I might finally see him live...

Friday, November 9 in NYC at the Iridium

als0

I finally bought a 22" Sound Creation Dark Ride just like Als

I love playing this cymbal!
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  #27  
Old 06-17-2008, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

I finally got to see Al Foster live.

I sat 8-10 feet directly in front of his drumkit.

It was BETTER than I thought it would be, which is saying a lot since I think Al is the greatest.

Al holds the sticks REAL loose. The tips of his sticks are sanded down so the attack is woody and mellow and dark.

Also, his Sound Creation Dark Ride is a special one. The edges are very thin and crashable, unlike the many many other SCDR.....the stick sound and bell are similar to mine but his had GOT to be very thin. (It actually inspired me to SELL my SCDR because I know Im going to spend the rest of my giggin life going..."I wish I had a thin, jazzy one like Al's)
Also it erased all the MYSTIC that this cymbal sound is ALL IN HIS HANDS AND TOUCH....bunk....Al would sound like Al on ANY cymbal but this SCDR IS different....he got a gem.

Actually I could see the lathing patterns from the underside of the cymbal which means the cymbal is thinner than most...

Al is very musical and listens constantly.

The things that really inspired me the other night were as follows
1. His listening ability and sensitivity
2. His LIGHT touch and ability to get 1,000 sounds out of all his instruments and colors
3. His phrasing....NOT what you would expect
4. His use of dynamics
5. He is a GREAT drum soloist. On par, (in my opinion) with Max Roach.


If you get to see him do it!
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  #28  
Old 06-17-2008, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

A great drummer!!!

did you also check out the new videos i posted on drummerworld:

http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/alfostersolo.html

Solo and Groovin with McCoy Tyner...

Bernhard
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  #29  
Old 06-17-2008, 07:58 PM
Nestlequick Nestlequick is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

Yes! And I want to thank you for those.

I forgot to mention I shook Al's hand and we talked about Max Roach, and my friend Mike Melito talked to him about Art Taylor and Art Blakey etc...

I also forgot to mention....Al is in the "ZONE" when he plays....he never is distracted...he is so focused....this was inspirational and next time I play Im going to shoot for being in the zone always.
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  #30  
Old 06-17-2008, 09:23 PM
the gayge the gayge is offline
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Default Re: Al Foster

There's a great piece on Al Foster over at music.npr.org
It his audio of a full live performance at the Village Vangaurd with his quartet and like a forty minute interview.
They have a couple of other ones up too, and they're doing a Brian Blade Fellowship set tomorrow night.
Check it out.
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  #31  
Old 08-11-2012, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Al Foster

I know this thread is old, but I saw Al Foster last night with his quartet at Birdland. What an experience!

He played some of the most beautiful music I've ever seen. So musical and played with so much expression! Comped the bass and piano and sax beautifully and swung as hard as anyone. I sat four feet from the drum set looking at him from the side. He had his eyes closed and a huge smile on his face the entire show. Made lots of mistakes (assumably as a result of his age), but turned every single one of them into music. He'd go for something and when he couldn't finish it properly, he'd laugh, and then just repeat that mistake it make it sound musical.

Chatted with him for twenty minutes after the show and he's just such a beautiful soul. Such a great person. My uncle told him about going to watch Elvin at the Vanguard twenty years ago, and he could never get the seat closest to Elvin since he (Foster) was always in that seat, so my uncle would sit right behind him every time he'd go and see Elvin. He was also so thrilled that a young, beginning drummer was into jazz and coming to see him play live.

It was a lot of long handshakes, laughs, and hugs after the show, and then rushing to catch the train. He provided a musical experience I will not ever forget!

I wanted to extend my stay here in New York to go see Jack DeJohnette play his 70th Birthday Concert in Woodstock tomorrow night, but it would have been too expensive. This made up for it in a big way!
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