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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Groove o' the day: Lex Humphries afro 6

Hm, Lex Humphries has been coming up a lot lately. I heard this tune played on KMHD, Portland's jazz radio station: Taboo, played by Duke Pearson on his Blue Note album Profile.

I should think about Humphries more— he is on a lot of records, and he's great. Here I've transcribed the Afro 6 feel he plays on the head of the tune, but the reason it caught my attention was the strong groove during the piano solo. He plays the cymbal beat with a strong quarter note pulse. As I listen to it on my computer, there's a pronounced tension between the bass and drums— the bass is on the front of the beat, and the drums behind. The main felt pulse is actually somewhere between them.

He also has a really nice sounding 20" ride cymbal. High pitched, clean, dark sound with sort of a pillowy quality. Mellow bell sound that is just metallic enough to give it some energy. How are you outfitted for cymbals? I sell the things, you know. I have a couple of light 20" Holy Grails in stock with a similar vibe.

Anyway, here's that Latin groove from the intro. The cymbal rhythm is unusual— it's kind of square. You hear more not-that-correct Latin interpretations from jazz drummers in the 50s than perhaps you do later. He only plays the bass drum audibly on the first measure of the tune:




He also plays it just with the snare and high tom:



He varies the cymbal when he does this move to the floor tom:




A couple of variations from the head out:





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