Thank You Elvin
(Blujazz Productions)


Chicago-based Blujazz Productions remains on the cutting edge of modern, mainstream jazz with a 2018 CD release from California-based drummer and composer Paul Kreibich entitled Thank You Elvin. The ten track, 74 minute album of solid bop jazz was recorded live in concert at the famous Lighthouse Cafe on August 13th, 2017. For those just tuning in, Paul Kreibich has drummed live in concert for a number of music legends including Carmen McRae, Ray Charles, Mose Allison, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell and in more recent times he also serves on the music faculty of Cal State Fullerton. The Elvin in the album title of Paul’s new album is legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones, whose style of jazz is paid a kind of posthumous homage on Thank You Elvin. A perennial favorite among fans of seasoned vintage jazz, Elvin Jones and his unparalleled drumming, especially his early 1960s years with John Coltrane, is still the stuff of jazz legend. For Thank You Elvin, Paul Kreibich has assembled a solid band as well as an impressive, action-packed live-in-concert track list that features original music as well as covers of classics from the pens of John Coltrane (“Naima”), jazz bassist Gene Perla (“Sambra”) and song writing legend Jules Styne—the latter feted here with a Kreibich cover of Styne’s 1944 torch song / jazz standard, “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry.” Assisting Paul's music and drumming on Thank You Elvin are three gifted saxophone players including Doug Webb, Glenn Cashman and Jeff Elwood along with bass ace Chris Colangelo. Recorded live at the fabled Hermosa Beach jazz venue The Lighthouse Café, Thank You Elvin attempts to recreate a similar, sonic vibe of the 1972 Elvin Jones album Live At The Lighthouse. As a native Californian, Paul, who was 17 when he attended Elvin’s '72 concert, was so inspired so it’s only natural that Thank You Elvin sounds as authentic as it does. In his informative CD liner notes, Kirk Silsbee goes into remembrances of that 1972 Elvin Jones album of that same concert that Paul attended as well as detailing the modus operandi of Paul’s impeccably produced live concert album. Echoing the excitement of Elvin Jones and the great jazz drummers of the 1960s and ‘70s, Thank You Elvin brings to life the timeless jazz “Buzz-AT” the fabled Lighthouse Café and then some. Fans of jazz drumming heroes giants Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Philly Jo Jones and other jazz classics, don’t miss drumming maestro Paul Kreibich and the instrumental live jazz groove on Thank You Elvin. / / / presents an interview with

: Was Thank You Elvin inspired in part by the 1972 Elvin Jones Live At The Lighthouse album? In his Thank You Elvin CD liner notes Kirk Silsbee tells the reader that you were in attendance for Elvin’s show that night and you were actually transcribing drum patterns. That sounds very challenging for a 17 year old! Sounds like you will always remember that concert.

Paul Kreibich: Yes, it was unforgettable. Actually Elvin’s quartet was playing at the Lighthouse 5 nights a week for two weeks and recording every night. I was there every night, so I got to hear the band playing at top form for many hours. I was studying with a great teacher, Bob Wrate, and did a lot of transcribing from records and the great drummers I could hear live. Elvin’s rhythm patterns were always changing, but I’d try to jot down the basic beat he was working from. His energy and dynamics were awesome, too.

mwe3: How did you choose the other players in your band for the Thank You Elvin album and how would you describe the chemistry of the band overall and especially that night you recorded Thank You Elvin?

Paul Kreibich: As far as the sax players, I’ve known Doug Webb since I was about 19. We came up playing together. He has become one of the leading tenor players in the country. Glenn Cashman I met in the Luther Hughes’ Cannonball-Coltrane Project. We worked together teaching at Cal State University Fullerton until he moved on to teach at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Glenn is a fine player and arranger and also plays a mean B3 organ. Jeff Elwood also teaches at Cal State Fullerton. He is a unique and dedicated player and teacher. A student of Jerry Bergonzi, he has written a great book on improvising.

Bassist Chris Colangelo and I have worked together for years and he’s one of my favorites. He’s got the great time and the harmonic understanding that it takes to hold together a band with no piano or guitar like ours.

We did the recording live at the Lighthouse all in one day. The guys played the tunes with a lot of precision. Everybody was firing on all cylinders.

mwe3: How long have you been playing drums and how did your drumming sound evolve over the past decades? Can you tell us about your kit that you recorded Thank You Elvin with and do you use a different sound live than in the studio?

Paul Kreibich: I picked up the sticks at age 7 and started weekly band class in 5th grade. I had some really good teachers: Ken Owen in Middle School, Earl Treichel in High School, and Dr. Charles Rutherford at Orange Coast College. I started gigging 5 nights a week at age 15 and have been going at it ever since. Pop and rock ’n’ roll came first. I got into jazz at age 14 or so. I’m known as a jazz drummer, but I enjoy playing many styles. Going on the road with Carmen McRae, Ray Charles, and the Woody Herman Orchestra turned me into a professional and made me capable of surviving in the business. At first I copied my favorites. The more years I played, the more my own style developed.

I play a DW Jazz Series kit with 18” bass drum and Istanbul Mehmet cymbals. I don’t change the sound in the studio much- just some tuning and muffling if necessary. If it’s a funk or pop session, a 22” bass drum and bigger deeper toms are used and the snare is muffled.

mwe3: Who were your main drumming and composer influences? Elvin was a big one, so what other drummers, drummers who compose and composers overall, made the biggest impression on you over the years? Were you also influenced by rock drummers? Seems like the best rock drummers were also influenced by giants like Elvin and cats like Krupa, Rich, Blakey and more…

Paul Kreibich: Some of my influences were: Shelly Manne, Buddy Rich, Billy Higgins, Philly Joe, Mel Lewis, Jake Hanna, Harold Jones, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Motian, James Gadson, Clyde Stubblefield, Peter Erskine, and Joe La Barbera, to name a few… Composers? Gershwin, Ellington, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Monk, Charlie Parker, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter. Some drummers who compose: Denzil Best, Stix Hooper, Jerry Kalaf. Earl Zindars was a tympanist.

I play and study piano and flute. That helps a lot with composition and playing the drums musically.

As far as rock drummers, I like Mitch Mitchell with Hendrix, Levon Helm, Richie Hayward with Little Feat, Russ Kunkel with Carole King and James Taylor. Tris Imboden is an old friend who played with Chicago. He’s a great rock drummer. We used to hang out, play, and trade ideas.

mwe3: Tell us about growing up and living in L.A. How would you compare it with NYC and other cities for music making and concerts? What parts of L.A. do you like best?

Paul Kreibich: I was born in L.A. and have spent most of my life in So Cal. As a young musician, I heard all the good drummers who live here or came through town. On the road I played in New York and made lots of friends there. I probably could have moved and done okay. There was more jazz in New York, but there was a lot of everything in L.A. and I was already getting established here. There are fewer clubs in L.A. now for a variety of reasons, but in the 1990’s, after I got off the Ray Charles gig, I was working all the time in and out of town and doing record dates.

At this point, I like the So Cal weather and lifestyle, other than the traffic. And I get called for a wide variety of things, mostly with great players, so I feel pretty good about staying here.

mwe3: You’ve drummed for many music greats. What are some of your favorite concert tours and recording dates over the years? I realize it’s a lot but maybe a couple you could share? What was working with Ray Charles like?

Paul Kreibich: I’m lucky to have been around when a lot of the first generation modern jazz giants like Red Rodney and James Moody were still playing. Those cats learned the music in a different way and had a more organic feel. I drummed with Mose Allison on his L.A. dates for almost 20 years. He was fun to play with and wrote the best lyrics. I played with Gene Harris for 5 years. We did nice a recording on Concord, “Alley Cats” with Jack McDuff, Ernie Watts, and Red Holloway along with Gene’s guys Luther Hughes and Frank Potenza. Ernestine Anderson was great to play with. I did Mitzi Gaynor’s tour for a few years and got some show chops together.

Ray Charles was famous for being hard on drummers. He was! It was difficult to deal with at first. I hung in there and just tried to give him what he wanted. Eventually it worked. The gig became more fun. It was a full time job. As a whole, it was an experience like no other. I learned a great deal about music and life and got to travel worldwide. He played just about every style and the band was soulful and swinging. Ray Charles was probably the heaviest musician I’ve met. He was a great pianist, singer, entertainer, and an arranger, too. He knew every note in every chart. He was not an easy guy to work for, but there were still a lot of laughs. It was well worth the effort.

mwe3: How many solo albums have you recorded over the years and what can you tell us about some of your favorite albums as a band member and album work / sessions.

Paul Kreibich: Thank You Elvin is my third album as a leader. The other two were collaborative projects. Karen Hammack is a good friend and a fine pianist and composer. We did a CD called Lonesome Tree with all original compositions. Saxophonist Brian Mitchell was on the Ray Charles band when I joined and later we started a band called the Jazz Coop. We did a CD called Spiral Staircase with the great Swiss bassist Isla Eckinger. Both are available on CD Baby.

I did a lot of recording for the Fresh Sounds, Candid, Hep, and VSOP labels with West Coast jazz masters like Bob Cooper, Bill Perkins, Conte Candoli, Claude Williamson, Herb Geller, and Frank Strazzeri.

Over the years, a lot of artists like James Moody, Clark Terry or Lew Tabakin have used me on gigs or recordings when they come through L.A. The “pick-up” rhythm section has been the norm in jazz for many years. I actually like it because you have to speak the jazz language and be able to jump in and make it happen on the spot.

mwe3: What about the Muffbone web site? What is Muffbone and how and when did you start the web site?

Paul Kreibich: The Muffbone is a simple bass drum muffling device that I developed as an “on the job” solution to controlling the ring of the bass drum. It was inspired by looking at one of my dog’s toys, a little bone shaped stuffed pillow. It fits between the drum head and the bass drum pedal and allows free movement of the footboard. It goes on and comes off easily. Go to and you can check out the product and order one. Jeff Hamilton, Peter Erskine, Roy McCurdy, and Joe La Barbera endorse it…

mwe3: Can you tell us how you met up with Blujazz Productions and with the 2018 CD release of Thank You Elvin? What other plans do you have as far as writing, recording, performing and producing music this year and into 2019? Would you consider a studio album or is recording live too exciting?

Paul Kreibich: I have been doing some recordings with Doug McDonald and the Jazz Marathon band. Its two all-star quintets back to back live. The dates were recorded and came out in 3 volumes on Blujazz. When we had recorded the Thank You Elvin project I sent it to Greg Pasenko at Blujazz and he got interested right away in putting it out. Greg has been great and we’re getting a lot of good airplay and reviews.

This year I’ve been doing some really fun gigs playing funk with Maceo Parker and classic pop/rock with Don Peake’s Wrecking Crew All-Stars. Also, I’ve been active in the retro swing scene with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. I’m still writing songs and jazz tunes and want to record again. After many years surviving in the business it’s a very stimulating time where anything could happen when that phone rings. I’m grateful to be physically and mentally in shape to utilize my skills and fit in to whatever the next musical experience will be.



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