Sunday, June 21, 2020

Transcription: Connie Kay - Cosmic Ray

A melodic drum solo with mallets by Connie Kay, on Cosmic Ray, from the Milt Jackson / Ray Charles album Soul Brothers. Kay is kind of a mysterious player to me, so I'm always on the lookout for anything he does where the drums are featured. The tune is a blues, but the solo is 52 bars long; in effect he plays four choruses, with a four bar tag.

It's extremely clean— everything is exactly in its place. There's very little activity with the feet, except at the beginning as he switches from sticks to mallets, and at the top of the second chorus— bar 13. It's not real exciting, but I don't know if Kay sees exciting drumming as his job. He's more about swinging the band, making the arrangement, and being an ensemble player. You feel like he was asked to play an intro and solo on the tom toms with mallets, and he's giving them that.

The tempo is a bright 234, and he doesn't really swing the 8th notes. There are five tom tom sounds here: snare drum with the snares off, the drum set high and low toms, plus a doumbek, and a large African drum. The doumbek/African drum can easily be played on the regular drum set toms; the pitches are very similar, only the timbre is different.

It sounds like Kay is playing his famous 17" A. Zildjian Medium-Heavy ride on this tune, though he doesn't really hit it during the solo.

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Ed Pierce said...

Nice tune!I find it interesting that Kay is known as a jazz player with a rather light and delicate touch (understandably so), yet he did a lot of R&B sessions for Atlantic in the early to mid 50's, and on a lot of those recording his sound is fat, with an aggressive backbeat (although the sound may have had a lot to do with how they recorded him). I think he was virtually the house drummer at Atlantic records up until about 1955, when he joined the MJQ. He also played (with Richard Davis) on Van Morrison's 1968 album Astral Weeks. I think on at least one of the songs on that record, "Madame George," he probably overdubbed his part (just a jazz ride cymbal pattern on the fadeout), because his pattern tends to get off from the other instruments, although I've never heard anyone else comment on this before (although in the context of the song, it seems to come off okay).

Todd Bishop said...

I'll need to check those out! I only really know him from MJQ.