Saturday, January 25, 2020

Philly Joe solo lesson

In that last Philly Joe Jones transcription— his solo on Sub City, with Bud Powell— I noted a pattern of using his 8th note bass drum phrases to break up the mainly-snare drum passages. It's actually an easy way to modernize an old fashioned rudimental snare drum oriented approach to soloing. I'm more whole-instrument oriented, so I'm coming at it from the opposite direction, trying to learn to use my snare drum chops on the drum set without feeling like a pure caveman.

So let's devise a practice method from this. In all the examples I'm giving a rough hands part and bass drum part only. You should be moving your hands around the drums, varying accents and stickings to make something exciting and musical out of it.

Here are some of Philly Joe's 8th note lines which included the bass drum:

It would be easy to devise some practice phrases, alternating these patterns with improvised soloing. For example:

It's probably wise to practice that way, with everything very clear cut, always changing ideas on the 1. It's easy for people to follow. But I suggest being looser with it, using those types of phrases as a starting point, remembering that you are under no obligation to match them exactly.

For example, this is not a real exciting idea:

These are more dynamic ways of playing the same basic phrase:

So we're looking for ways to introduce some space, and to not always play to the 1. I think it's best to work that out in the course of actually playing the drums, but some people may need to write out some possibilities first. Beyond the scope of this little practice formula, it will help to think about having more than one way to phrase and accent— and start and finish— any basic solo idea. 

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