Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Kenny Note

As I was listening to the Kenny Clarke record Detroit Jazzmen it jumped out at me that Clarke really favors comping with the snare drum on the & of 1 and/or 3:

Get the pdf

Now, this is such a universal thing that giving "credit" to one drummer for it seems completely ridiculous; the & of 1/& of 3 punctuation certainly pre-dates Kenny Clarke. It would be just as easy to make a case for calling it the Papa Jo note or the Big Sid note. Then again, there was really no such thing as modern left hand independence before Clarke. From his 1984 Modern Drummer interview with Ed Thigpen:

...Joe Garland, a tenor player with Edgar Hayes, would write things for me. He'd write out a trumpet part, and he'd leave it up to me to play whatever I felt would be most effective. I'd play the figures over the regular beat. That's how I first got the idea to play that way. Then I developed the idea further with Roy [Eldridge]. Most of the guys who'd played with Roy didn't do anything with their left hands. Almost everybody was just copying Jo with that hi-hat thing. 

For that matter, it would not be at all out of line to call the standard jazz ride cymbal pattern The Kenny Beat or whatever, since he did in fact invent it. So maybe if we think of this comping thing narrowly in a bebop context played along with the ride cymbal it won't be quite so absurd as it initially seems. 

YouTube audio of the tune after the break:

Note that the on the first 16 bars of the head he plays the two-measure phrase from today's pdf several times. You can see and hear that the punctuation happens many times throughout the second 16 bars, which I've transcribed, and while comping behind the soloists:

1 comment:

Jon McCaslin said...

This is one of my favorite albums!!!