Thoughts Updates

2020 Quarantine Website Reboot

Wow. Hello everybody. It has sure been a while (just about 5 years) since I wrote anything here. Needless to say, life has gotten a bit busy. I won’t even try to go into every detail of the last several years to try and summarize whats going on. Instead, Ill just pretend that lengthy hiatus never happened. Perfect.

I am stuck here at home, like most of you. Stuck isnt really a great way of putting it, though. I am enjoying my forced time away from the rest of the world as much as I can. We have two kids now, aged 5 and 3, so that takes most of the time, and while its tiring and certainly challenging, its also very rewarding and a lot of fun. Even before this COVID business, I hadnt really been playing many gigs out in the wild, other than some really outstanding theatre work at Geva Theatre and SUNY Geneseo, with the inimitable Don Kot. I am trying hard to play drums when I can, but practice time, and also writing time, is at a real minimum right now. I do have some ideas coming though, including a new launch of some Normal People music. Also trying hard to keep up with great TV shows, podcasts, albums, and the occasional book.

I am most excited right this moment about my drum set solo book that I have had 99% finished for a long long time, and am just now tightening down the details. This is NOT the soloDRUMsolo book featuring my solo commissions, though that should make an appearance soon too. This is a book written for drum set students who want to learn some stylistic jazz licks, but find a lot of whats out there to be inaccessible. I remember being a student, and wishing someone could distill ALL that was out there into something more manageable. I know the best work is the hard work, and transcribing and listening to the greats is obviously the way. But what about a kid who doesnt really have the time or interest to devote in that way? Should they then not be able to enjoy and learn something that sounds like Billy Higgins might have played? I think that might still be ok, and thats been my aim with this book. So if you are so inclined, head over to the “Compositions” page and give it a look. While youre there, check out my other compositions for percussion. Maybe theres something youd enjoy!

Stay inside, wash your hands, hopefully Ill see you soon.



100 Important (to me) Recordings

A few years back, I was invited by my good pal Sean Connors to speak at the Central New York Day of Percussion. I was supposed to speak about drumset; that was my only direction. And about myself. Maybe how do you get to be Aaron Staebell on the drumset. (Apparently, this is something people ask themselves?)

I think one of the most important things to who we are as musicians/improvisers is our musical catalog. Dave Chisholm talks about this sometimes, how his band members are familiar with the same benchmarks as he; they know they same recordings intimately. It makes a big difference. My musical background was varied as a kid. My dad was an orchestra conductor and my mom loves listening to eclectic stuff from her generation. I was also a kid in the 90s, you know? So I had my helpings of Reel Big Fish and the Verve Pipe so that I could be cool in school.

At the Day of Percussion, I gave everyone this list. Its a list of 100 recordings that were and are important TO ME. Is this the best 100 CDs of all time? No way. Thats not even the point. Some of this probably wouldnt be considered good music by almost anyone. BUT for example, playing along to Ashlee Simpson’s “Autobiography” in college (goodbye, friends) helped me to develop my time and my pop/rock sensibilities on the drums. And come on. It was catchy and fun (until this happened:)

SO without any further digression, here is MY list.

(in alphabetical order, by artist/composer/band)