Ian Froman talks about drums, influences,
and most importantly bass players in this
exclusive interview with Active Bass member
Chris Trinidad: What influenced
you to play the
drums and not any
I originally played piano for a few years, but
was really drawn to
the drums at a very early age. I saw a jazz
band when I was in grade
school and the drummer really made an
impression on me. My cousin
later bought a snare drum and I got it after
he tired of it. At 13
years of age, I purchased my first
CT: Who would you consider to
your primary influences
on the drums? And of
these players, how has their playing influenced your
I first heard Steve Gadd and knew that the
drums were something
special. His time feel and the way he played
the tune were really
unique. Then Jack DeJohnette became a
major influence and still
remains one ...... I like the way he phrases
and plays with the
rhythm, both during the melody and
CT: You have also been
have studied with Elvin
Jones. How has
studying with him affected your playing and what are
some of the things that
you have picked while studying with him?
Studying with Elvin was truly a treat,
something that I would like to do now!
I was always into his playing, so being in a
room with him and
talking about 'Trane and that style of
drumming allowed me to check
out the style from the source. The
lessons were very conceptual and
I have really taken that approach to my own
CT: You have mentioned
that you did not wish to play
with the hi-hat on
two and four and the standard 'ding ding a ding' ride
pattern? What made
you arrive at this decision?
I never wanted to be restricted by any
repeated pattern. I think
that true creative improvisation needs to
be a continuous flow of
rhythmic ideas and playing something over
and over again, does not
allow that to happen. The ride cymbal can
give you pulse but can
also begin the phrasing process and play
specific rhythms. As far as
the hi-hat is concerned, I really like to use
the hi-hat as a phrasing
voice, not just something that repeats an
ostinato thus removing it
from rhythmic improv.
CT: To get to the point where
able to phrase freely
requires quite a
bit of independence. How do you feel one would best
Sequential learning and using texts? Playing along to
I think that to gain independence and
coordination on the drumset you
must do a variety of existing exercises that
most drummers have done: stick control and syncopation (as applied
to the set). You have to
learn to coordinate a number of rhythms,
specifically quarters and
eighths against the ride pattern. Playing
along with records is cool
but does not promote this independence
CT: What are your thoughts on
playing traditional bebop
with an acoustic
bassist? Do you have a preference on working with
acoustic or electric
I much prefer playing traditional bebop
with acoustic bass. The
sound and the attack is better suited for
that music, but there are
many great electric bassists today who
know how to walk correctly and
play great jazz! I think that I just need to
play with a very good
bassist regardless of it being acoustic or
CT: Would you feel then, that
traditional role of the
fall to the bassist? Or do you think that time is implied
interaction of the players?
The time keeper of the band is the drummer.
Nobody can dictate tempo
like the drums.
The nature of the instrument is so strong
that the drummer really
leads with regard to tempo and dynamics
CT: Certainly there have been
situations when you get called
to play with a
bassist you haven't played with before. What kind of
things do you look out
for? What kind of things do you expect?
The first thing that I notice is time feel. I
want to know where the
beats lies. Is it behind, in the middle or on
top? I want to get a
rapport going fast so we can hook up and
play well together.
CT: Bassists have often signed
up for lessons with you,
what kind of things can
bassists expect in a lesson?
Pretty much the same thing that I did with
Chris. Playing tunes and
making it really swing. The feel is probably
the most important
thing that a bass player can study with a
CT: The tale of you and
Metalwood's Chris Tarry hooking up
is worthy of a folk
about telling your side of the story?
Well, Chris had a friend who was studying
with me ..... Johnny Rabb.
To make a long story short, Chris started
playing in my office and I
began giving him tips about the bass and
drum relationship (same as I
had done with other bassists including
When Chris moved back to Canada and wanted to
record a CD, he called and I flew to Vancouver to play. We had such a great
time, that after the CD came out, he wanted to tour and I was free
at that time.
The first two years of playing trio with Chris and
Steve Fisk were the building
blocks for a really strong relationship
both musically and professionally.
We have been on the road so many times, playing so
many gigs and hooking up so well that our
relationship has grown into something very special. The musical feeling
is very natural and comfortable - however, we have continued
to grow and expand our stuff
CT: What intrigued you to work
with Chris at Berklee? And at that, Chris is
primarily an electric player within a jazz context. How do
you feel about the electric bass in an acoustic jazz context?
I just had a good feeling about Chris, he was
a nice guy asking intelligent questions and a real desire to
learn. I enjoyed helping out musicians and showing them info that
was passed on to me from other great players. If an electric bassist
can walk correctly and play strong notes on strong beats, not
rush or drag, then I generally
enjoy playing with him or her.
CT: What kind of things would
you be working on with Chris
while at Berklee?
We worked mostly on swing time. Placing
the right note (harmonically) on the right beat, then feel, and
having the "swing time
feel" feeling really good and swinging. We
played open changes, blues, rhythm changes and different tunes
to get the real jazz feel going.
CT: When you first started
working with Metalwood, how did
you want to approach the music that was being presented to
Groove music with no swing. But the thing is
to make it loose and open. No slick fusion beats and all that
rigid stuff. I did not want to play repeated patterns and have to
stick to it - I wanted to improvise in a groove setting.
CT: You have worked with
some very cool people. I'll name them, and then you tell me
something about them that you've picked up and have
been able to incorporate into your music.
Dave Liebman - Hard core! Right to the point!
Play consistent and well - Focus.
Gary Burton - Extremely professional and a
Tommy Smith - Strong sax man. He allowed me to
initiate drum parts for the music.
Ahmad Mansour - Great conceptual approach. Loose and open.
Chuck Burrows - He taught basics and fundamental of jazz drumming.
Joe Hunt - A very conceptual approach to
teaching and learning.
Bob Kaufman - Elvin and more Elvin!
Mick Goodrick - Understated master musician. He can really set up a vibe.
Ben Monder - A wonderful stylist. He can really take the music somewhere.
CT: Who do you listen to these
days and are there any
players, drummers or
otherwise that you find are innovating and pushing the
I listen to pretty much everything that is
out there. I like a lot
of styles and genres and really appreciate
what different players are doing.
many of my friends are great musicians that I
see on a regular basis. And I enjoy hearing them
create new music.
CT: Any plans on recording or
leading your own project? If so, who would you
like to have play on it?
At this point of my life I am still very
interested in being the
perfect interpreter of other peoples'
original music. I love being a
sideman with a lot of freedom to express
CT: Desert island discs.
Name some of your all time
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
John Coltrane - Transition
Jan Garbarek - Paths, Prints
Keith Jarrett - My Song
Keith Jarrett Trio - Still Live
Miles Davis - Four and More
Miles Davis - Miles Smiles
Mick Nock - Ondas
CT: Any final thoughts on
drumming that you wish
to share with ActiveBass community?
Being a musician is an extremely rewarding
way of life. To be able
to do something that I love, every single
day, is really a treat. I
am lucky to experience this unique and
alternative lifestyle. Have