MAGNA CARTA PRESENTS:
Drum Nation Volume 2
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Main Releases Page
1. Mike Portnoy “Meetings” – 5:55 –Andy
West with Rama
2. Pat Mastelotto “Toccata” – 8:04 – Album: Encores,
Legends and Paradox
3. Dennis Chambers “One Less Worry” – 7:28 - Niacin
4. Terry Bozzio “The Last Page” – 8:25 –Terry Bozzio & Billy
5. Clyde Stubblefield “Cosmic Slop” - 4:57 - The Clinton Administration
6. Virgil Donati “Space Martini” - 3:47 - Derek Sherinian
7. Tim Alexander “My Fellow Astronauts” – 4:04 –Attention
8. Keith Carlock “Steroids” – 4:52 - Oz Noy
9. Rod Morgenstein “Herd Instinct” – 4:36 - Andy West
10. Simon Phillips “The Barbarian” – 4:40 - Encores,
Legends and Paradox.
11. Josh Freese – “Baby-Faced Assassin” - 9:54 - Stripsearch
12. Anton Fig - “Cissy Strut” – 4:06 - Oz Noy
13. Stanton Moore “Family Affair” – 7:05 –The Clinton
Also available: Drum Nation Volume One
The first Drum Nation album (“Volume One”) emerged as a
result of Pete
Morticelli’s vision. The head of Magna Carta had long observed that an
unusual sense of community existed among drummers—a rare breed, to be
What would happen if they were given free creative reign, license to
music unfettered by commercial constraints? Thus was born Drum Nation
Volume Two continues the tradition. This time, Pete has ventured into the
label’s vaults and retrieved some of the most stirring performances
ever heard—from indisputably the most influential drummers of our time.
One of these is, of course, Mike Portnoy. From his slamming half-time intro
groove on “Meetings” (Andy West with Rama) to his tribal toms
bridge, he submits some of his cleanest playing on record. In the midst
syncing spot on with keys and guitar hits, he fans a mounting fire
Pat Mastelotto is a drummer conversant
in electronic and acoustic drums. On“Toccata”, taken from Encores, Legends and Paradox, it seems
acoustic kit prevails—but we’re never quite sure, such is the
of tonal textures. Mastelotto creates a drum track that is a study
ambient concert hall orchestral dynamics—the syncopated rolls towards
exit are a perfect example. They transform neatly from playful
jazz-influenced improvisation to tightly scripted ensemble figures,
This is perhaps not your usual Dennis Chambers fare,
this track “One
Worry” from Niacin. It lies somewhere in the jazz-meets-jam-band arena.
with any Chambers track, however, it is grounded in his iron-fisted
Catch the way Dennis builds a staggered, off-the-beat cymbal bell pattern
into a spectacular solo break that pays heed to the underlying pulse
vigorously accelerating to a rollicking double-time conclusion.
Ahh, the great Terry Bozzio, one of the most in command drummers of
here represented on “The Last Page” drawn from Bozzio/Sheehan:
Films. Billy’s restless and probing bass find the perfect tonal match
Terry’s prodding snares-off approach, not to mention those curtain-like
synth pads. Get ready for a nouveau beat poet interjection and the
drum interplay Terry constructs to enhance the lyric “quickening causes”.
“This is Clyde Stubblefield counting because I’m the opener!” And
that, the acknowledged guardian of funk leads the first Clinton
Administration line up into “Cosmic Slop”. A member of that aggregation
One Nation Under a Re-Groove, Clyde is one of the most sampled and
drummers in history, if only for his work on James Brown’s “Funky
In “Cosmic Slop”, his drumming takes a less syncopated (but eminently
tack as a response to the dense backdrop of guitar (Phil Upchurch),
(Robert Walter), and Skerik (sax). Also nailing it are Melvin Gibbs
DJ Logic on turntables, and Chuck Prada on percussion.
is out of the gate frantically at the top of “Space
In typical Donati fashion, the feel is totally in rein, yet it has
punk edge. As the track progresses, Virgil’s seemingly obsessed drumming
reveals an uncanny telepathy with Derek Sherinian’s keyboards. All
while, running double bass drums underscore this largely vamp-driven
the snare occasionally rocking on all fours (again, that punk ethic!).
bridge features a harmonic resolution that balances out the track nicely.
There is nothing uncertain about Tim Alexander’s treatment of “My
Astronauts” from Attention Deficit’s “The Idiot King” CD,
given his oft’
predisposition to airy, ethereal drumming. His tom work during Alex
Skolnick’s guitar solo is so deliberately punchy it reminds of Ginger
during his freest moments with Cream. But soon Tim’s back on full kit—pay
special note to the snare /cymbal interplay—and the Baker similarity
And now for something completely different, Keith
Carlock live on “Steroids”
from Oz Noy- Live. With its James Brown-ish guitar, the tune finds
manipulating traditional funk patterns in crazy ways, ever-heightening
intensity. This is clearly not the Keith Carlock with Sting and that’s
He’s all over this track like a rash and he’ll have you scratchin’ something
While the intro lush organ brings “Herd Instinct” (from
Andy West with Rama)
to life, Rod Morgenstein keeps the track alive and pumping with a variety
rhythmic devices. Everything from his half-open hi-hats juxtaposed
synth accents to his carefully manipulated kit work complementing oboe-like
patches is done with exquisite taste, vision, and muscle.
Ordinarily Simon Phillips tends to politeness, as befits a man of British
upbringing. These traits are absent on “The Barbarian” (from
Legends and Paradox). Those signature Phillips bass drums, loose and
are put to full, plundering good use, right from the intro. Elsewhere
nailing a solid rock groove, supporting a recurring keyboard phrase
ought to find familiar. With his commanding fills and immovable time,
is the perfect drummer to add value to an ELP classic. Hard to believe
he cut the track in his house (with Ed Stasium at the board).
He’s in a one horse race, Josh Freese, in “Baby-Faced
(Stripsearch). His snare/tom/bass drum fills are a study in punk assed
power. Somehow they add to the anarchy prevalent here—while strangely
contributing order. Another listen to this track and you’ll conclude
Freese is a man in love with his instrument and its potential. And
is downright infectious.
We sometimes take Anton Fig for granted. After all,
we’ve seen him
on Letterman for well over a decade. Time to pause and reflect on his
percussive depth, his refined sense of humor, and the obvious research
conducted in order to manage a part such as the one on this cover of
Meter’s “Cissy Strut” (OZ Live by Oz Noy). This version
beats, unexpected key modulations, and an incontrovertible groove that
alludes to Ziggy’s quirky hi-hat part.
And finally we have the New Orleans prodigy, Stanton Moore,
tackling an old
Sly And The Family Stone favorite, “Family Affair” (from the
Administration’s “Take You Higher”), making it dance with
groove and jalopy fills. He certainly is at home with Robert Walter
Hammond B3 and three exceptional guitarists: Firkins, Haque, and Hitchcock.
The joy, if not already obvious, begins to bubble over the pot during
Levy’s Rhodes solo and thereafter. Check out the guitar/drum fill at
pure creative collaboration, pure family affair, and, what’s more,
drumming spirit as manifested in Drum Nation!
Notes by T. Bruce Wittet, longtime contributor to Modern Drummer magazine
and Associate Editor of Muzik/Drums Etc magazine.