Monday, May 25, 2015

CSD! 2015 fund raiser happening NOW

NOTE: This post will be pinned to the top of the blog until June 1, but I'll be posting heavily, so be sure to scroll down and hit the older posts link so you don't miss any of the new, extra-special content.

OK, folks, here we go with our 2015 “I like CRUISE SHIP DRUMMER!” fund raiser, wherein I invite you to contribute some of your hard-earned money, to help us continue the flow of great drumming-related stuff.

I'll spare you an extended sales pitch, except to invite you to take a fresh gander at our downloads archive, and mention that it does take a lot of time, effort, and energy to write that stuff— for which I'm not paid directly at all. I rely on people thinking what I'm doing is valuable, and then deciding to take action and make a donation, or buy our products.

As always, one-time donations are lovely, but you can now also become a continuing member by signing up to make an automatic monthly contribution. If you approve of what we're doing here, and you have the means, this is an incredibly great way to help us do our work, for you:


Choose your recurring support level:


Or you can make a one-time donation— all amounts are helpful, and welcome:

Contribute to the blog the price of:

If you value what we do, and want us to continue, please give generously, according to your resources.


More ways to support the blog after the break:

Ed Blackwell on playing with Monk

Another choice bit from Ted Panken's interview with Blackwell— Blackwell played with Monk in 1972:

I’ll tell you what happened with Monk. During the course of the gig, after about a week… He used to give me a lot of solos. Then one night we were playing, and he gave me a solo, and I played, you know, and after he came off the stand he come over to me and he said, “You know, you ain’t no Max Roach.” [LAUGHS] And I don’t know why he told me that! He just danced away. Wilbur Ware was in that group also.

I remember a story Art Taylor told me about Monk. He was playing with Monk in Chicago, and Monk had stopped letting him solo. So during the course of intermission, he came over, and A.T. said, “You know, you cut off my solos, man. You used to give me little solos. Why don’t you let me play?” So he said when they went back up to the set, Monk went to the mike and said, “We will now hear a solo by our drummer.” And that was it!

Partido Alto practice loop and basic grooves

Another practice loop, sampled from the tune Partido Alto, from the Azymuth album Light As A Feather. Ivan Conti is on drums. As I mentioned before, Partido Alto is the name of a Brazilian rhythm, a songstyle or genre of samba using standard instruments, a tune title (more than one, I'm sure), and a fusion-like drum groove. It probably refers to some other things, too— my factual knowledge of Brazilian music is not that deep. In this case, we're dealing with the 70s fusion tune, the drum groove, and the rhythm.

I'll say it is one of the great rhythms in music, which doesn't get the same attention from north American drummers as does clave, its Caribbean relative. Clave has a built-in resolution, so it's almost like a repeating “shave-and-haircut” ending— I was embarrassed to relate clave to something so hokey, but apparently the similarity has not gone unnoticed by actual serious Cuban music people. That's where its power comes from. But Brazilian music is nothing if not about forward motion, and, especially, continuation, and the Partido Alto rhythm does not have that built-in stop, and keeps skipping ahead, forever. Come to think of it, despite its similarity to clave, the Bossa rhythm (so-called “Brazilian clave” or “Bossa clave”) is the same way.

Anyway, here's the loop:




Here's the basic rhythm as it occurs in this tune; it's easy to get lost at first, so it may help to note that (in this case) there are 4 notes on the downbeats, and three on the upbeats. The half notes are just for reference, but you can play them along with the rhythm to help keep track of the downbeats.




Also try this variation, with a couple of notes added:




Also see this page for some insight on the construction of the rhythm generally.

After the break are some basic things you can play on the drums:


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Transcription: Famoudou Don Moye — Funky Aeco

I was going to take care of some other business today, but then I saw that it's Famoudou Don Moye's birthday, and wanted to pay tribute by giving one of my favorite things of his a really close listen. He's a drummer I think about a lot, in no small part because of the quality of his backbeats. Most young jazz drummers today, even some great ones, need a backbeatectomy— major reconstructive backbeat surgery. There's not enough substance there. On the other end of the spectrum are the regular backbeat players, who all seem to be hitting them way too hard, on diecast-hooped drums, making a sound that's just brutally ugly. Then there's this, Funky Aeco, from The Art Ensemble of Chicago's album The Third Decade, which is, sound-and-vibe-wise, a perfect, slamming American backbeat:




The total drum part is pretty organic; the 16th notes swing a bit, and there are a lot of dynamics within it, with ghost notes on the snare drum and sometimes the bass drum. And there are some half-open hihat sounds, which I've indicated with a tenuto mark (-) above the note. Rather than trying to work all that stuff out, just learn a basic form of the groove, check out some of the variations he plays, and try to get the vibe.

Get the pdf



Live version of the same tune after the break:

Happy birthday, Archie Shepp

While I regroup and get stuff together for next week, let's celebrate saxophonist, poet, and composer Archie Shepp's 78th birthday with Attica Blues. Play this loud:



And The Magic of Juju, with Ed Blackwell playing slit drum:



Very occasional quote of the day: Kurt Cobain

“Learn how to not play your instrument.”

—Cobain diary entry, from the HBO documentary “Montage Of Heck”

(h/t to Mark Wooley)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Groove o' the day: Jabo Starks — The Payback

I don't know karate, but I know karazy. Here's Jabo Starks playing James Brown's classic, The Payback, which, if you don't already have the record, you may know from Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, Dead Presidents, or Django Unchained. On the intro Starks plays very simply, with the snare drum on 2 only:




When the groove gets going for real, the snare is on 2 and 4, and he adds some small embellishments. All of those extra notes can happen on either half of the measure: the open hihat can also happen on beat 3, the ghost note on the snare drum can happen after beat 4, and the 16th note on the bass drum can happen on beat 2. Listen to the track, and mix them up freely.




Towards the end, you increasingly hear these ghost notes— or some part thereof— on the snare drum. There's a light swing to the 16th notes.



Here' the track:

Daily best music in the world: Andrew Cyrille with Grachan Moncur III

Just a nice track from a record I've never heard, by Moncur, a famous trombonist, with Andrew Cyrille on the drums:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Transcription: Tony Williams — Lopsy Lu

Here's the third of four big-deal transcriptions I have lined up for the fund raiser. I was going to save this for next week, but people have been slow to contribute, which, perversely, just makes want to keep dumping big, amazing stuff at you. Please help out with whatever cash contribution you can afford— this means you. Personally, for much of the time I've been writing this blog I've been quite broke, but I've never noticed the $10 monthly contribution I make to the Majority Report podcast. I don't know, give it a whirl if you like what we do.

We already saw this as a groove o' the day, but here's the whole tune: Lopsy Lu, from Stanley Clarke's self-titled album of 1974, with Tony Williams on drums.




Tony is playing his big drumset here, with I believe four tom toms— I don't think he's using the set with the three floor toms yet— where you see regular noteheads on line, those are the extra toms. I've also begun putting the hihats and ride cymbal on seperate lines; in this case, the hats are on the top line of the staff, and the ride cymbal above it.

This type of groove really wants strictly compound-meter stuff played with it— triplet-based stuff; as I noted on the GOTD, it can be really hard to sustain that while blowing. During his solo, Tony plays some duple 16ths, and they don't sit well— to my ears. I'm pretty much helpless to do that same thing when playing a similar style, and it never really works.

Again, this one will probably be gone after the fundraiser, so get it while you can:

Get the pdf



For diehard geeks (hopefully everyone), there's much explanation of the form after the break: