Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dannie Richmond comping

Dannie Richmond is one of my favorite drummers, who we don't talk about much mainly because he's often hard to transcribe, and a lot of what he plays is so context dependent that it can be hard to draw general drumming lessons from it. You just have to listen and get why he's great. As a drumming conductor, he is one of the very greatest. For his playing with Mingus, I think he's right up there with Mel Lewis, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, or any other big band drummer you can name.

This is from The Clooker, from the George Adams/Dannie Richmond album Hand To Hand on Soul Note Records. This is his playing behind George Adams's solo. Like I said, he can be hard to transcribe, and the sound here is not great, so treat this as a sketch:

There is a strong quarter note pulse, and strong hihat on 2 and 4. It's notable that his cymbal rhythm is often a little crushed— he doesn't play a wonderful, perfect cymbal rhythm a la Tony Williams. It's more about the overall energy. He plays strong accents on 1 and 4 at the beginning of a chorus or section, and also hits the 4 with the bass drum often. The dynamics of his comping are dramatic, with very soft and very loud notes. I almost certainly missed some of the very soft notes. Comping here is really about creating forward momentum. What he plays (or what I hear that he plays) is very simple, but it's aggressive, and is not predictable. Towards the end he plays some things that are basically in 6/8 within 4/4— I see these as Mingus-like horn backgrounds.

The most interesting thing to me right now is in bar 45, at 1:22 in the track; he's basically doing rub-a-dub. He does some different things than we've been doing with it— he mixes it up. If you want to learn his ideas, you could take any three beats of that four measure phrase and plug it into my Equinox exercise so the cymbal accents line up. I'll probably write this up soon, actually...

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