Brian Blade on Wednesday, the Dutch avant-garde master Hans Bennink and Randy Rollofson (an excellent Portland drummer) on Friday, and my man Stephen Pancerev and a younger cat named Jesse Brooke last night. Yeah.
So here's a small rant:
Coming back to the computer after seeing all of those great drummers in close succession, you can't help notice that the bulk of online conversation about drumming is very different from what is done by real players in real life. Just off the top of my head: I witnessed no evidence of the limitation of non-open-handed drumming when these drummers played their hihats normally, with the right hand. I saw no over-the-top “creative” drumset configurations, or weird pieces of gear. Zero-to-few instances of anything Moeller-like. No display of the kind of Mayer-esque, or corps-style practice pad chops you see played at fff all over YouTube. Any “ghost notes” were in their proper place as incidental texture, not the main point of everything. No sign of obsessing over gear. No double pedals present, or racks. The players online people obsess over may as well have dedicated their lives to owl rehabilitation, or the appreciation of obscure aromatic cheeses, for all the evidence of their musical influence here. No break beats, blast beats, WTF-beats, or any kind of novelty at all as far as beats were concerned. No “stick tricks.” The spirit of consumerism, and of the various forms of online snake oil, was off tap dancing for gaping yokels in some backwater on the other side of the planet somewhere. I saw nothing lifted bodily out of The New Breed, or the cool drum book du jour. No rhythmic illusions, no multiple layers of parts, and no distant polyrhythms or metric modulations. Nothing that would be recognized as “displacement.” No 22" bass drums, third or fourth toms, third or fourth cymbals. No slamming, rimshotted backbeats. No popcorn snares. No evidence of the criticality of head and stick choice.
Yet they all have spent years or decades totally consumed with playing the drums and making music— I guess there are other things to do and think about than what you usually get online.