Monday, January 18, 2021

Very occasional quote of the day: Max Roach fast

“We'd have jam sessions at Minton's where the tenor players were long-winded,” Roach explained. “Don Byas would play 20 minutes on ‘Cherokee,' and then Johnny Griffin would play another 20 minutes, and then somebody else would play. And then they'd turn to you and say, ‘You got it.' They'd wear you out and then give you a solo, right? So I had to learn to not give it all up right away so I would have something left an hour later. 

Those sessions were unbelievable, but it makes you strong and teaches you how all four limbs have the responsibility to create the illusion that you're playing super fast.”

- Max Roach

Quoted from Roach's Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame entry. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Listening: more Freddie

Let's listen to some more Freddie Hubbard, again with Louis Hayes on drums. The album is The Black Angel, recorded in 1969, same as Hub of Hubbard. With James Spaulding, Kenny Barron, and Reggie Workman— all still alive, except for Freddie. It sounds like we're in post-Bitches Brew mode (or at least post-Filles de Kilimanjaro), but this was recorded before the Miles album; both were released in 1970. The tune is Spacetrack, and it's over 16 minutes long, so settle in. DO NOT skim around like some kind of no-attention-span-having 2020s weirdo. 

I don't know what to say, the whole thing kills. The tune is great. Reggie Workman and Kenny Barron are super hip. I always file Louis Hayes under 60s hard bop, and you can hear that, but he's also right in the moment here— with post-Tony Williams and textural free jazz things happening. I guess I've been listening to the wrong Louis records. He has a couple of great drum breaks. 

The vibe is very different from the fast tunes on Hub of Hubbard, that pure machismo— and something else. An online reviewer speculated that on HOH the band was getting tired of playing standards, and it's hard not to feel that way. Here everybody is in the zone, and it's the same zone. As on HOH the time is floaty, but as a deliberate thing— not that anxiety producing thing where it sounds like there's a fight going on.      

Friday, January 15, 2021

Accents on 8/8 jazz rhythms

A background project lately has been to create some ways of practicing feathering the bass drum as part of a modern, varying, organic jazz texture. This page is related to some things I'm hearing in the ongoing Elvin Jones transcription, and is also somewhat related to my harmonic coordination system... which is (accidentally) very much like the first part of Stone's Accent & Rebounds. We're playing some basic SD/BD 8th note combinations in a jazz setting, and adding accents to them, and ghosting/feathering the unaccented parts: 

Add the accents from the bottom half of the page to the drum set patterns at the top. Swing the 8th notes, play the hihat on beats 2 and 4, and keep the cymbal at a steady volume. You can get your accents from any source you want— from Syncopation, for example. It would be easy to greatly expand this concept with a lot of other accent patterns and SD/BD patterns, but I don't think that's necessary.   

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Syncopation exercise: Accents from Chasin' the Train - 01

Companion to yesterday's post: a syncopation exercise based on part 5 of the Chasin' the Trane transcription— all of the accents played on the snare and bass drum. As usual I've followed the Reed convention of including a bass drum part I never use. File this with my other recent syncopation exercises with more space than the original Reed exercises. 

You can play melody part on the same drum as Elvin by following the common long note/short note interpretation— short notes go on the snare drum, long notes go on the bass drum. Except in some places it was impossible to write that, or unnecessarily difficult to read, so play quarter notes with a staccato mark as short notes, and 8th notes with a tenuto mark as long notes. Staccato = snare drum, tenuto = bass drum.  

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Chasin' the Trane - 05

Here is part 5 of this transcription— the 25th-30th choruses of Elvin Jones playing Chasin' the Trane, from John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard. The transcription begins at 4:38 in the track. We're nearing 1/3 of the way through. 

We're seeing more of the same basic things, with a few more notes here and there that don't transcribe real well. I'm noticing lots of accents on the & of 1/& of 4 in the same measure, often in the third measure of a phrase. The tempo has apparently picked up a little bit, to around quarter note = 244. 

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Hemiola funk series: all basic patterns in 3/8

There's an ongoing political crisis happening in the United States right now, and it's really hard to write, or do anything else productive. It's very serious and basically every human on the planet should be very concerned about it, because it does affect everyone. 

So here is what I can manage— kicking around the hemiola funk concept some more. For me this is background work for a book; for you it could be a Stick Control-like thing, and play the patterns by themselves, and in all of their combinations. They're easy, so even though there are a lot of combinations, it should go quickly. There will be many duplicates of things on the other page of this from last week. I can't help you there. 

I've only included proper hemiola patterns that have running 8th notes in the right hand— none of the linear RLB patterns I wrote about before, which are closely related, but really a different thing. Play the patterns in the 3/4 rhythms at the bottom of the page, or just play them in 6/8 or 12/8. After playing them individually, combine them like: 

1-2, 1-3, 1-4... 1-26
2-3, 2-4, 2-5... 2-26
3-4, 3-5, 3-6... 3-26

By the time you get to 25, you'll just play 25-26 and be done. 

Playing them in 6/8, you could also try playing patterns starting with a bass drum on 1, with patterns starting with the snare drum on 2. So you might play:

2-1, 2-3, 2-5, 2-7...
4-1, 4-3, 4-5, 4-7...
6-1, 6-3, 6-5, 6-7...

All the combinations with BD on 1, SD on 2, going up and down the page. Enjoy. 

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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Happy end of that

1/7 UPDATE: Bumping this post from the distant past at the end of last month, when, in my sad, ridiculous naiveté, I thought the worst was behind us, and the depths of the current president's depravity, and that of his supporters, had been plumbed, and that we would be allowed to quietly ease into a new year of national recovery and reunification... I was wrong about that. Yeaah. So while I get it together, please download my updated archive of loops, it's great, and do all of the other things below. 

Original post from 12/31/20: Well, that sucked. What the hell was that. Anybody know.  

Let's clean the slate for 2021 with a year-end bonus download: my updated complete 2.75 gb archive of practice loops— WITH TEMPOS

I've added a lot of things since I posted the archive in April— most notably a number of complete solos. Like we've got McCoy Tyner's solo on Passion Dance, Joe Henderson on Contemplation, Bill Evans on Minority, and more.   

I can't guarantee there aren't any weird ones. There may be a couple that I sampled badly, or that just don't work that well as something to practice with. And there may be a few time discrepancies— like on Seven Steps to Heaven. A little bit of that is good— just like in real life, you have to make adjustments. But sometimes it just wrecks the loop.     

I've put the rock loops in their own directory. Everything else is in the main folder— I like having the jazz, Latin, funk, and fusion stuff mixed together. There's also a directory of “Todd's faves”, that I practice with the most, that are duplicates of things in the other folders.    

And I'd like to thank everyone for following the site, I hope you continue to find it helpful in your drumming pursuits, in this 9th year I've been doing the thing as a dedicated drumming blog. I invite you to make a $$$ contribution, or better yet, buy my goods and services— drum lessons, books, and the fantastic Cymbal & Gong cymbals, which you should all own. They are legit the cymbals for anyone into the stuff I write about, and they're all personally selected by me. See the sidebar for all of that stuff. 

2020 Book of the Blog is coming soon. Thanks everyone! tb

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Reed tweak: bass in the middle of the triplet

Let's take a break from watching the national degradation of the United States and its democratic form of government reach its apex live on Twitter/TV, wanna? 

Yesterday I was practicing one of my recent Reed tweaks, with the bass drum filling in the gaps in the melody rhythm, and I made a mistake, which immediately led to something new— at least I've never done it before. Between this, and all of the Three Camps for drum set stuff, and these recent Reed posts, you should be killing it at making a jazz texture in pretty short order— some months of serious practice, anyway. 

This is a jazz method., so play the normal cymbal rhythm plus hihat on 2/4, and read out of Syncopation by Ted Reed, pp. 34-45 of the current edition. Play the book rhythm on the snare drum, fill in with the bass drum thusly: 

Play the bass drum on the & on every beat where: 

    The snare drum sounds on the downbeat 

    No snare drum sounds 

Play the bass drum on the middle of the triplet on every beat where:

    The snare drum sounds on the both 8th notes 

    The snare drum sounds on the & only

So the first line of Ex. 1 on p. 38: 

Would be played like (I've omitted the hihat):

Or the fourth line of Ex. 4 on p. 41— that page may be a little confusing at first, with its many dotted quarter notes: 

Goes like: 

There's one typo: no snare drum on beat 1 of the second measure.

The long exercises with some space are the most interesting for doing this— the ones that give you a good balance of bass drum on the middle of the triplet, and on the &. Exercise 2, which is mostly 8th notes, is maybe not as cool. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Hemiola funk series: all patterns combined

Continuing to work through the possibilities of the hemiola funk series, in hopes of eventually making a concise, coherent method out of it. It has been great for my students— adult beginners, and kids under 10, even. It's fun, and easy, and sounds and feels cool, and it teaches real fundamental drum set coordination.  

This is three pages long, with a lot of patterns... and just now I see I've left out one. Oh well. It's really a Stick Control-type library of combinations— a student would have to have a really good grasp of the larger picture for me to teach this in a lesson.  

Lines 1-10 are the basic patterns, one time, and repeating in 3/4. Pages 2-3 show all the patterns combined in a single measure of 3/4. I've only written them in one order. 

Really each of the combinations deserves the full page treatment I did with each of the basic patterns— inverting them so the 1 is on each beat of the measure, playing each two beats of the pattern in 2/4, and in 2/4 with the beats reversed, and extending the the 3/4 pattern into one measure of 4/4. 

Get the pdf

Monday, January 04, 2021

Listening: holy shnikeys

A couple of standards from the album The Hub of Hubbard, by Freddie Hubbard. With Louis Hayes on drums and Richard Davis on bass, plus Roland Hanna and Eddie Daniels. Recorded in Germany in 1969 while this group was on tour. Normally one would expect a band to be sounding really tight after a tour— here it led to something really wild. When Without A Song came up in a mix, my impression during the first 30 seconds was this sounds bad

And some of it does— that happens. Hayes is real busy, blowing through the parts where a drummer would normally be playing arrangement stuff— it doesn't work for me. And the bass and drums are generally in different time zones, with the bass often way ahead, to the point that Davis's quarter notes are landing on Hayes's &s. It creates a real chaotic edge, and leads to some real confusion at times— like at the end of the tenor solo. I've heard Davis do this in a less extreme a way on other records— floating it in, playing around with being way ahead of the beat. Music can sound good when it's on the edge of falling apart— at best here there's a kind of wild Mingus-like energy; at worst it sounds like everybody is powering it in from different wings of the building and conflicting with each other.

Next they play Just One Of Those Things rather quickly. The tempo starts around quarter note = 430, and gets up to around 470 at  times. Much of it hangs around 450... insofar as it's possible to get an accurate tempo from that. That's more relatable as whole notes, at 108-117. In my mind the normal top absurd tempo is around 400, or whole note = 100. As an experiment you can try playing 16th notes with one hand at 100, 108, and 117, that gives you an idea of the scale of tempos we're dealing with. It's all totally ridiculous.  

Louis Hayes starts it with an intro played on the cymbals, reminiscent of Philly Joe Jones playing Tune Up with Miles Davis— to me two notable occurrences = a pattern, and now that's something you do when playing real fast tempos. 

Strange things happen when you try to play a jazz feel at a tempo where it's impossible to do so. Hayes's default time feel is sort of a mutant Charleston— following the rhythm of the tune. You hear something like this during the head and for much of Hubbard's solo: 

His quarter notes on the cymbal are shuffling out— that's the actual rhythm he plays, when you slow down the recording— and there's no hihat at all that I can hear. The time feel is mostly driven by half notes and dotted half notes played on the bass drum and cymbal, with a little snare drum. He's fluffing in some texture in between as best he can. Really the harmonic rhythm is the primary pulse all of this is hanging off of.  

Eddie Daniels half-times the last chorus of his solo, which you would think would be a big smoking invitation for the rhythm section to join him for a breather, maybe play half time on the piano solo— but they don't take it— some kind of ethic of not punking out, perhaps. As wild as it all sounds, Hayes is right on it when Hubbard comes in on the head out. Freddie Hubbard is horrifying through all of this— a pure freight train. At the end of the track one of the players says “Now let's try it at the real tempo.”

The other tunes on the album are a medium blues and a ballad, and they sound great.  

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Groove o' the day: Andy Newmark - Dreamweaver

UPDATE: Download link is active now! 

I really think people don't know what groove is any more— I heard the worst thing in the world on the radio* a few days ago, and I WISH the station kept their playlists up to date so I could show it to you. It was a fairly normal R&B song, set to drumming that was absolutely atrocious in the guise of being hip. I was hoping to AB it with something good, to demonstrate the total absence of the primary quality the drums are meant to bring to music. Alas. 

* - Portland's wonderful KMHD, which you should all be streaming online, and supporting

The opposite of that is Andy Newmark playing on Dream Weaver— from Freddie Hubbard's Windjammer, a big budget album with an all-star orchestra. Newmark is a little bit in Steve Gadd composed-groove mode here, except he's playing non-repetitively— no two measures are the same. We've seen that before from him, even on pop songs. Groove does not require strict repetition, pop craft does not require playing strictly composed “parts.” 

And the overt funkiness of the patterns is beside the point— groove is not just “playing funky.” 

The intro and chorus transcriptions are accurate; on the trumpet verse I've only written the audible hihat— whatever else he's doing with it is buried under the rhythm guitar. He plays the intro repetitively with a couple of fills, everything else on the track varies every measure.  

 Get the pdf

Friday, January 01, 2021

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Chasin' the Trane - 04

Happy actual new year, everyone. Here are the 19th-24th choruses of the ongoing Elvin Jones / Chasin' the Trane transcription project. We're about 25% of the way through. 

Not a lot new to report— there's a distinct ongoing vibe here, with not a huge amount of variety. At some point I'll do a little analysis to find any patterns in his phrasing. We're seeing lots of the regular cymbal rhythm (usually a strong accent on the &s), hihat on 2/4, snare drum on the &s with dramatically varying dynamics. There are occasional repeating three-beat patterns the resolve within two measures. He's not outlining the blues form particularly strongly. In the fourth minute of the piece the tempo is holding steady and solid at ~237. 

We are seeing more 16th notes, and more unisons between the snare and bass drums. And three notes in a row at a triplet rate. He's really dancing with his left hand. Note the bigger phrase-ending licks in measures 240 and 276. 

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