Monday, June 10, 2013

Groove o' the day: Al Jackson

Here's something from the great R&B drummer Al Jackson, on the light little instrumental tune Overton Park Sunrise, from the Union Extended album by Booker T. & The MGs. On the A section he plays the ride cymbal, rim clicks on the snare drum, some James-Brownish displacement in the middle, and the same little fill every two measures:

On the B section he switches to a more straight ahead rock beat, played on the hihat, with backbeats on the snare drum:

As always, Jackson is an architect, and his playing is clean in the extreme. Everything serves a compositional purpose, and nothing happens by accident. He doesn't play hard or loud. Fills are sparse until the out chorus, when he catches a hit on the & of 4 while playing the B groove, which you'll hear. So much of current funk drumming— what gets called funk drumming— is so overwrought that Jackson's sensibility could seem a little alien. Just remember that he became one of the most revered drummers in history doing little more than what you hear on this recording, and try to figure out why that would be.

Audio after the break:

This is kind of a rare album, and I was only able to find the track online as part of this British podcast. Our tune starts at 22:20:

1 comment:

Ed Pierce said...

Thanks for posting this, Todd. I have virtually every Booker T. and the MG's album except for that one; I think it only came out in England, and as far as I know it was never released on CD. Quintessential Al Jackson groove, though.

I love everything that Al Jackson did, but I especially like his playing on all of the albums that Sam and Dave did at Stax (there were four of them, recorded between 1965 and 1968). Sam and Dave don't get too much ink, but the quality of the playing, singing, arrangements (mostly by Isaac Hayes) and songwriting (mostly by Isaac Hayes and David Porter) on all of their Stax stuff is top notch.