Sunday, January 08, 2017

Groove o' the day: Harvey Mason - Slop Jar Blues

Here are some fairly basic funk grooves, which I'm really only posting as an excuse to get you to listen to this track, and the way the drummer plays it. The tune is Slop Jar Blues, from the 1973 Donald Byrd album Black Byrd, with Harvey Mason on the drums.

A couple of minutes in he gets a little heavier with the bass drum. The hihat with the tenuto mark is slightly less open than the open note at the end of the measure:

This figure happens many times throughout the tune, and he plays it the same way every time, with a rather complicated sticking— try RRLB RLBR— B meaning 'both', with the right hand on the cymbal. Or whatever works for you.

But never mind that, just listen to the way he plays— between this and the Ndugu Leon Chancler transcription last month, this is everything you need to know about playing slow funk. At this tempo you have to be very deliberate in your rhythm, especially the fills. There's a certain uniformity of volume— everything's pretty big and solid, though he's not playing especially loud. He's not getting that slamming, hard sound a lot of drummers today somehow associate with being “funky”— none of that “crack” to the snare drum that is so cherished now. A drummer who really got into this school of playing would sound pretty unique today, and people would really be into playing with him or her.

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