Friday, February 26, 2021

Transcription: Art Blakey - This Is Life

From maybe the first jazz record I ever checked out on my own, Golden Boy by Art Blakey. Kind of an obscure record on the Colpix label, that I dug out of my dad's record collection. Along with that Charlie Parker recording I mentioned the other day, and a Jazz At The Philharmonic album, and Kind of Blue. Anyway, Blakey does an extended solo at the beginning of This Is Life, and it was the first idea of jazz drumming I ever got from a record. I think all I knew about Blakey was the rough looking picture of him in the Zildjian cymbal guide, and my brother mentioning that he played really loud. 

The tempo starts around 192, picks up a bit to about 210 by the end of the solo, and is about 178 after the band comes in.

I wrote the bass drum part as accurately as possible in measures 19-22, but if you're going to play this solo, do not mess with trying to do what I've written— listen to the vibe of what he's doing and copy that. Basically he's flailing it in there, and his foot wants to do quarter note triplets or straight 8th notes. 

He “feathers” the bass drum through the first part of this, but that seems the wrong word— some old guys say “pats”, and that's really what he's doing here. It's a dry leathery sound, barely a tonal sound. 

By the way, the cymbal he's using here is squarely in the middle of Cymbal & Gong-land. The first 20" Holy Grail video I pulled up is damn close to it— except that HG is a little heavier. I quickly found a couple more that were close. Of what I have in stock right now, “Amos” is the closest match to this cymbal.

...have I mentioned there is a sale on cymbals going right now! 10% off Holy Grails purchased with a 30% off Leon— and I never give discounts on Holy Grails. 

On the Cymbalistic blog I mentioned a different Blakey cymbal, the one used on The Big Beat and Indestructible, and also found a good match in my past stock of Holy Grails. I've only sold about thirteen 20" Holy Grail Jazz Rides since I've been doing this, and at least 4-5 of them are reasonably exact matches for something Art Blakey played. The rest of them are right there in the same family. What I'm trying to communicate to you is that these cymbals are it— there's a reason I'm so excited about them.   

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