Monday, November 28, 2011

A bargain on a great book - UPDATED

UPDATE: The book is now coming up at the usual $99.95 price. Hopefully a few people were able to take advantage while the opportunity was there. It's still a worthy addition to your library at the full price, if you can afford it.

I couldn't resist bringing this to your attention- Joel Rothman's Compleat Jazz Drummer is currently available at less than half price at $45, when it normally goes for $90-120. It's not exactly commonplace, so forget about finding a used copy. I've been meaning for months to do a review, but you'll forgive me for finding writing about this 500 page behemoth a little daunting. I think the only way I can deal with it right now is just to make a laundry list of what it is/what I like about it.

Here we are, in no particular order:

1. Takes the Chapin-style of jazz book just about as far as it can go. Contains coordination/comping patterns for one, two, or three limbs in a variety of feels- triplets/swing 8ths, 16ths/even 8ths, double-time feel, 12/8 feel. That last is, I believe, the key to understanding and copping Jack Dejohnette's elusive fast-within-slow thing.  So you can be the first kid on your block to nail that one.

I believe- but haven't gotten confirmation- that Dejohnette may have actually worked with Rothman's materials in developing that. I haven't seen similar materials anywhere else, and this book is one of two drum books referenced in the Dejohnette/Charlie Perry book.

Read on:

2.  The book is thorough, but not heavily padded. I hate paying someone to mindlessly typeset endless permutations of an idea.

3. Exercises follow a unique, player-friendly logic. This is something that doesn't get talked about much in discussing method books; the organization of the patterns is nearly as important as the patterns themselves. It's common to see materials arranged more or less randomly, or by a strictly mathematical logic, neither of which is as helpful as it could be in actually playing music.

4. Also contains robust sections on coordination/comping in 3/4, meter-within-meter phrasing (3/4 within 4/4), kicks and set-ups, solo breaks, cymbal variations, and then something which Rothman had a hard time describing himself- "cymbal-snare variations (with the snare drum as an integral part of the time)." As hard to understand as that is, it's a core idea in post-60's drumming, and similar to Bob Moses' non-independent method.

5. In the past I was not in favor of playing written-out solos, and would have spurned the solos/breaks section entirely, but I'm changing my views on that. They're a fine way of introducing important clich├ęs, and make a decent supplement/change of pace from other types of study.

6. Like all of Rothman's books, there's a bias in favor of practicality (most of what I said in my review of Rothman's Basic Drumming is true here, too), but there's also a lot of very modern stuff here, and many of the exercises can be easily adapted for other purposes. For example, I've been using the SD/BD coordination patterns (written as triplets in 2/4) with an afro 6/8 bell pattern; and the 16th note SD/BD patterns (also written in 2/4) as uptempo comping patterns.

7. Also like the rest of Rothman's books, it's pleasant to use. The type is nice to look at, the paper is good quality, and it's bound so you don't have to mash it to death to keep it from flopping shut and falling off the music stand. You out there, Hudson? Alfred?


  1. Hi could you please send a link, because I've checked it on amazon and its still 99$? Cheers

  2. That's the price I'm getting now, too- I guess that opportunity has passed. Updating the main post to reflect that...