Sunday, January 06, 2013

Googled: “Elvin Jones triplets”

What the heck, we haven't done a “round up” style post in awhile. Here's a quick survey of Internet lore, briefly reviewing some of the information returned when you google “Elvin Jones triplets”:

First, the unambiguous winner:

Four on the Floor — Elvin Jones Independence Exercises
Extremely valuable piece in which Jon McCaslin shares some insights into Elvin's approach, learned in a clinic from the master himself. Revealingly, the concepts are fairly simple, at least by current standards of drummeriness. I won't summarize it here— just go read it and live it for awhile.

Drum! Magazine —Inside the Drumming of Elvin Jones
Transcription of the drum performance on the Jones composition Three Card Molly, with a lead sheet for the tune. The tune is found on the recording Genesis— the author neglects to mention that in the piece. This is a good illustration of the gap between all of the things you can say and write about music, and the music itself: it's pretty vast. Even the author, a highly qualified musician and jazz educator who knew Elvin personally, doesn't offer a whole lot of fresh verbal information about Jones's thing. That's because there is no verbal explanation to be had; it all happens in the playing and listening. In fact, most of what you can write about any art is either 1) false, 2) true, but obvious, 3) technical. Literally-stated deep insights are extremely rare.

More after the break:

Drum! Magazine — Peter Erskine: Reading Elvin
Peter Erskine breaks down a phrase-ending Elvin “lick.”

Nucleo Vega — Elvin Jones and Batá Drumming
This is a school paper by DC/Baltimore drummer and author Nucleo Vega, which is insightful and worth reading, but which also illustrates a hazard of scholarship— at least, I've seen it happen more than once: making too much of the similarities between things, inferring a direct historical connection that doesn't exist in the documentation. That is, there's no evidence (that I know of) that suggests Elvin was influenced specifically by Batá drumming, so you can't say that he was just because his playing has some similarities to it. But that's the way it goes with school work— it's a good paper, just use it with caution. 

Vega also has an interesting site worth visiting,— there he explores ways of making tonal melodies on the drums, in the style associated with Ari Hoenig. — The Dozens: Essential Elvin Jones
A pretty solid list of classic recordings. A reasonable place to start if you're just building your record collection.

The Drum Ninja — Elvin Jones Triplets
Here, without context or explanation, we are given a one-measure triplet lick that should be familiar to anyone who has spent any time with Reed, with a demonstration played on an “e” kit. This turned up several times in my results, complete with links to the ubiquitous Michael Michalkow Drumming System product, yet I'm no closer to signing up to pay these guys money.

Pearl Drummer's Forum — Elvin Jones triplets
Let this exchange during a discussion of Elvin Jones serve as my explanation as to why I stay away from most drum forums:

“last night i was at the friends studio again, and the madman berklee physco bassist hoped on the kit and showed something for the precussionist, the first was some crazy stuff with 2 sticks in each hand and then he was like this is how elvin jones did his triplets, it sounded like doubles instead of singles like TOM TOM BASS and going to the snare and stuff but doubled up, then he did bonzos.” 
“what are bonzos?”
“bonzo triplets, he uses them all the time, tom tom bass over and over”
“Not to do a bonzo then and glug yourself to a bitter end... Bitter, geddit? Haw haw.”
“huh? lol”

A few other things turned up— another school piece describing Jones's recordings on Blue Note, and his career leading up to them, as well as some things covered in my earlier Elvin transcription round up.

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