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.   

Get the pdf

Thursday, February 25, 2021

CYMBALISTIC: Leon Collection sale happening now!

CYMBALISTIC SALE: CASCADING discounts on Leon Collection cymbals!

OK, the big sale is here— Cymbal & Gong is blowing out their old stock of Leon Collection cymbals, so I picked out a few select items for you to purchase on my site, Cymbalistic.com, at some pretty excellent discounts: 


First Leon: -20% off
the regular site price
Second Leon: -30% off
Third or more Leons: -40% off*

* - FINE PRINT: There are a couple of beautiful 20" Leons (“Serge” and “Clemente”) that I purchased before C&G's blowout, which only get up to a 30% discount. 

BONUS: I'm giving a little -10% discount on all other cymbals when purchased with one or more Leons. And they're counted first so you get the lowest price on your Leons. 

This is all limited to stock on hand— and I never carry a whole lot of stock— so you'd better act fast if you want in on this. It's a great opportunity to get a complete set, or to round out your collection of gigging cymbals. 

Sale cymbals include: Two 22" light rides, a 20" super light ride, 20" thin flat ride, 19" crash-ride, 19" custom medium flat ride, two 17" thin crashes, one set 15" light hihats. 


The Leon Collection
is the personal line of Cymbal & Gong's master cymbal smith. They are jazz weight cymbals, and their sounds are generally light, bright, and airy, reminiscent of ECM in the 1970s. My friends in Berlin played them and concluded they were “like 602s, but better.” I've found that the Leons blend well with Cymbal & Gong's Holy Grail series, and other "K-type" cymbals. 



In case you aren't familiar: 

Cymbal & Gong is a one man company here in Portland, Oregon, with cymbals hand made in Turkey to traditional specifications, emulating the sounds of jazz in the 1950s and 60s. I believe they are consistently the best cymbals available for that sound, and that's why I sell them.   

Cymbalistic is my cymbal retail site. I sell only Cymbal & Gong cymbals, in limited quantities. I personally select all my stock for sound and playability— I only sell cymbals I would want to perform and record with myself. Each individual cymbal is demonstrated in a video, and I give a frank description of my impressions of it, as a jazz musician. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Cymbal sounds: Tony-like

I was rooting around in my music listening to ride cymbal sounds, and was surprised to find, in pretty short order, a number of things similar to Tony Williams's famous cymbal— similar to it, or flanking it somehow. Let's check them out. 

To me the definitive recordings of Tony's cymbal are Nefertiti or Four & More, with the Plugged Nickel recordings revealing a wilder edge than the other records. The prettiest, most intimate recording of it is on Charles Lloyd's Of Course, Of Course: 


 
I was just listening to older records where the drummers would be using original Istanbul K. Zildjian cymbals. Or possibly old A.s— my ears aren't perfect. At least it should be instructive to listen closely to some records and make the comparison. 


Dexterity - Charlie Parker / Dial Masters - Max Roach

One of the first jazz records I ever heard— dug it out of my dad's record collection. Recorded in 1947, this big cymbal sound was surprising to me— I expect everything happening in the 40s to have one foot in the swing era, with everyone riding on little cymbals or on their hihats.   

This is like the proto-Tony cymbal, with a rougher, deeper sound, close to a Cymbal & Gong cymbal (22" Holy Grail “Richard”) I sold to a guitarist friend, Ryan Meagher. Max moves to the ride cymbal at 0:30:




MC - Andrew Hill / Grass Roots - Idris Muhammad

Probably a 20" cymbal here, you could call this a baby version of the Tony cymbal. Higher pitched, without the big body; there's a brighter edge to the attack (possibly due to a crude digital remastering job?). Something about catches my ear as being Tony-like— the big spread up in the same pitch range as the attack? He hits a big accent with it after 3:00 which should tell you a lot about the cymbal; I find that aspect pretty un-Tony cymbal-like, for what it's worth. 



I've heard a lot of Joe Chambers, and I don't know why this distinctly Tony-like cymbal never caught my ear. His touch is quite different. I'm pretty sure the same 22" K. Zildjian is used on all of these records. Now I'll go comb his interviews to see if he's ever made mention of it. Or maybe somebody out there knows him...
   

Total Eclipse - Bobby Hutcherson / Total Eclipse - Joe Chambers
This cymbal is lovely. He's got some really nice hihats too, while we're at it. Listen after about 3:00 especially. Recorded at Plaza Sound by Duke Pearson and Francis Wolff in 1968. 



Subtle Neptune - Bobby Hutcherson / Oblique - Joe Chambers
I'm pretty sure this is the same cymbal as on Total Eclipse. Recorded at Van Gelder by Alfred Lion exactly one year earlier— and again, who knows what they did to it in remastering. You can hear a more piercing attack here.



Black Heroes - Bobby Hutcherson / Now! - Joe Chambers
Almost certain to be the same cymbal recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1969. Does anyone out there know Joe? 


Spiral - Bobby Hutcherson / Medina - Joe Chambers
Recorded at Van Gelder in '69. Again there are some rather piercing highs that I believe are the result of the digital remaster.  



Lester Leaps In - Lee Konitz / Peacemeal - Jack Dejohnette
Jack Dejohnette early in his career playing another baby Tony cymbal, probably a 20" K.? Pretty dry, but with all the handling properties of Tony's thing— great accents with the shoulder of the stick— on a smaller the scale. 



Finally let's check out what Tony himself was playing a little later. 

Lawra - Herbie Hancock / Third Plane - Tony Williams
Kind of an awful-sounding 70s recording, this was recorded before the new American K. Zildjians, so this is a Turkish cymbal. Sounds like a jazz cymbal getting a little overwhelmed by some big sticks. Still an interesting sound, wilder than his old cymbal, slightly exotic.

I think a main feature of the old cymbal is a big, sustained, controlled wash— here the wash is splashier; you can hear it building quickly and falling off with every stroke. A few thinner C&Gs have this sound— I never felt I could use it, but it is intriguing. I've seen a number of Agop Signatures with this quality in an extreme way. 


I encourage you to comment with your impressions— perceptions can be very slippery, and I know some readers will just have better ears and more experience listening to cymbals than me. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

From the zone: Zappa transcription project

 Daniel Bédard in Montréal did a really cool project: 

“I challenged myself in trying to transcribe one FZ song a week for a year. That year came to an end last September and due to covid, I've been slowed down big time but still managed to reach my goal of 52 songs in a year.” 



I love his copying style. Here's the whole pile:
 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The three bloggers: the left foot, the hihat

New series: Fellow drumming bloggers Jon McCaslin (Four On The Floor), Ted Warren (Trap'd), and I are colluding on a series of posts, in which each of us independently write about the same topic. Whatever drumming-related subjects we can think of, where we have common experience, and where it's worth hearing from three guys about the same thing. Hopefully it will be a regular monthly thing. Obviously I'll have to get used to the deadline aspect, as I'm already late with my first post. 

The first group post is broadly about the hihat, and that odd member that plays it, the left foot. It can be a problematic element. I don't consider myself to be any kind of hihat visionary, so I'll talk about it broadly, hopefully inspiring some ideas for developing it beyond ordinary uses, while respecting its limitations. 

Here are Jon's post and Ted's post— I didn't read them before writing this, because I would probably feel bad about how much better they are, and not be able to finish. Anyway, here we go: 


The Hihat
:
 What is it, why is it? Why? What? Is it?


Ordinary uses

[UPDATE] All right, I read the other guys' posts and got embarrassed for including this. You know what a hihat is. 


What's the problem? 

It's a sluggish instrument; the normal foot stroke is a dead stroke, and it's not easy to develop a lot of dexterity with that. The rebound is entirely mechanical— it comes from a mediocre spring lifting up the 2-3 pound bronze plate, with zero assistance from gravity or physics. 

Maybe we could play complex things more easily using a splash sound, but I think most of us don't attempt that. The technique for that is problematic, too— the impact part of a splash stroke is soft. It's like playing in the air. 

The hihat's normal placement on the left side of the drum set creates a problem for some people; they don't like crossing over to play the it with the right hand. To the point that they'll spend many hours relearning everything backwards just to avoid doing it. Even for those of us who accept that crossover as one of life's little tragedies, it's an inescapable fact that you can't hit nearly as much crap with the left hand while crossing over it with your right. It's true.    

Finally, I have a little difficulty determining a musical role for very advanced uses of it, beyond what I described above. I don't hear much beyond that. 


Concepts/methods for developing it as a musical voice 

Simple awareness. There is a tendency to regard the drumset as a piece of scenery, and our job is to play stuff on it— I sympathize with that. But every part of it is also a musical voice on its own, and each part's presence or non-presence in a piece of music has an effect. As my playing matures, I want to be better at orchestrating effective percussion, as well as just playing the instrument.

So it's good to ask What is this sound? What is this thing? What am I doing? There's no way to work this through except through a lot of playing and listening. Start by with your own ordinary uses of it, and be able to not always do them. Be able to add them or take them away in the course of playing. 


Tone control for the cymbals played with the hands is possibly an underrated use of it— it is a purely personal musical thing, and somewhat difficult to talk about, and to “train” for. The cymbals are very sensitive to foot pressure on the pedal, and varying it can be very expressive— the difference between a mechanical, drum-machine sounding performance, and one that sounds human, and very engaged with the music in the moment.    


Both feet in unison. Either a dry sound or a splash sound. As coordination and as orchestration it's very fundamental, and I like being very fluent with fundamentals. Don't be afraid of things that are this dumb, and work them in occasionally when you don't have other grand designs for the hihat. You might try playing this page with a jazz cymbal rhythm, playing the melody part with both feet together. One other notable recent thing was in the ongoing Chasin' the Trane transcription, where we see a lot of HH/BD or HH/SD unisons from Elvin Jones, on the & of beat 1, or & of 3.  


In unison with the left hand. I don't have a particular musical concept for this, it's more a practice technique using the left hand to discipline the left foot. Some forms of my harmonic coordination system are good for developing this; or you can simply play Stick Control patterns as R=RH/cym+RF, L=LH/SD+LF. 


Choke effects are very useful and effective, but a little mysterious to a lot of students. You can improve them by focusing on the timing of the close, rather than the open. The close is coordinated, the open is typically finessed, and out of time. Practicing both feet in unison improves closes with the bass drum, praticing LH/LF in unison improves closing with the left hand. See my “Funk Control” series for practice methods for each of those— any exercises involving an open hihat.  

With linear solo patterns it can replace the bass drum, for a different texture. Try it with RLF, RLLF, FRRL, or Gary Chaffee's linear patterns. Practicing it in unison with the bass drum on this kind of thing should open up some other possibilities. Given that it is a more technically challenging instrument to play, I think it's a good idea to practice a lot of easy, obvious single-note things with it. 


A big area for exploitation in a funk idiom is to play mixed rhythms with both hands, most famously done by Zigaboo Modeliste with his groove on Cissy Strut. Also done by D.C. Gogo drummers, and Omar Hakim on a John Scofield record. Using natural sticking is the best way to do this, as it easily converts to alternating accented singles, with short roll/drag passages, like what Omar Hakim did this groove with Weather Report.


There we are, now I get to go read what Jon and Ted wrote! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Service announcement

 Sorry for the lack of posts-- I have a ton of stuff lined up, including a big sale on cymbals, but there's a massive internet service outage in Portland thanks to an ice storm. And blogging from a pad via wireless hotspot SUCKS, if I may be blunt. 

Back soon...

Saturday, February 13, 2021

New rudiment: Swisscues

New rudiment time: a flam rudiment combining a Swiss Triplet and a Flamacue. It's so basic I can't imagine it doesn't already exist somewhere, but I'm not digging through the lists of 50,000 hybrid rudiments to check it out. They just started happening when I was hitting the practice pad, and I stopped to figure out what they were. We'll call them Swisscues, or Swiss Cues if you prefer— though calling it “Swiss [thing]” is misleading, because it's not a legit Swiss rudiment as far as I am aware.  

...I wanted to call them “swissamacues”, just to make it extra-embarrassing to say. Decided against it. 

Anyway here it is, with some exercises to develop it, plus a solo, adapted from Haskell Harr (Drum Method Book 2, p. 80, “Harold Pitcock”):
   


You can see from ex. 4 that we've simply doubled the right hand, and changed the rhythm to a sixtuplet. You can substitute these for regular flamacues found in Harr, or Wilcoxon, or the NARD collection. Have fun. 

Oh, there's a little typo in measure 15 of the solo—the release of the roll on beat two should be a right hand, as it is throughout the rest of the solo. All of those rolls are 7-stroke rolls starting on the left hand, ending on the right, with a 16th note triplet pulsation. 

Get the pdf

Thursday, February 11, 2021

CYMBALISTIC: Leon Collection specials coming soon!

NEWS: Cymbal & Gong is blowing out a little bit of old stock from their master smith's personal line of cymbals, the Leon Collection, and so, my humble dealership CYMBALISTIC will soon be offering some big specials on them.  


The general character of the Leon Collection is bright, light, airy, musical, lush— for an ECM-type sound in jazz weights. At a cymbal meet in Berlin, the consensus among drummers was that they were “like 602s, but better.” 


New cymbals, all jazz weight, and personally selected by me, include: 

Two 22" light rides - These are both quite light, bordering on crash weight, but they handle well as rides played with light sticks. 
One 19" crash ride - Excellent solid left side cymbal. 
Two 17" thin crashes - 17 is the new 18. These are quick, for getting a nice accent at moderate volumes, while still handling light riding well. Mount them on the left, Tony Williams-style, or on the far right. 
One set 15" light hihats - light cymbals with a solid foot sound. 

I'll be posting videos of those next week. If you're looking for other sizes, for the moment there are a few other Leons still at C&G HQ— crashes from 16-21", and lighter 15" hihats. Let me know right away if you have any interest in those, they'll be gone soon!   

And I have two other Leons currently in stock: a beautiful, delicate 20" flat ride, and this remarkable ultra light 20" ride:  



What I will probably do is offer rapidly escalating discounts when buying more than one Leon— or a Leon together with another line. And probably a smaller discount on other lines of cymbals purchased with one or more Leons. 

In short, this will be a great opportunity to save hundreds filling out your collection of cymbals.   

I'll announce the discount schedule when I post the videos of the individual cymbals next week. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Chasin' the Trane - 07

I'm finally half done with this. This project is definitely streamlining my transcription methods. I use the program Transcribe, and loop two measures at a time, usually starting with the playback speed at 75%. Everything is basically audible on this track, and I haven't had to mess with the EQ. 

Because I'm using Finale, I first sketch in the combined rhythm for the full drum set— I'll put in the first sound I hear on every note of the combined rhythm. Cymbal, snare, whatever. Then I'll use the speedy entry tool to fill in everything else that's happening in the measure, using the keyboard. It's a pain poking around adding a lot of notes with the mouse. Then I add all of the articulations— accents, ghost notes, open hihat and whatnot. Finally, once I've completed a twelve measure chorus, I'll go back and loop the entire chorus and listen for mistakes in all four parts— cymbal, snare, bass, hihat. It's easy to miss things at the beginning/end of each two measure portion you looped.  

 So here is part 7, minutes 7:00-8:10, the 37th-42nd choruses of Elvin Jones playing Chasin' the Trane, from John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard: 


Things are getting slightly wilder; there are a couple of big fills, and a couple big accent passages. We're seeing more tied notes on the cymbals, more activity with unisons between the snare and bass, more multiple triplet rate notes played with the left hand. That thing with the bass drum in the middle of the triplet was no fluke, because we see it several times here. Lots of hihat on the & of 1/3, as well. Often the execution of those is slightly fluffy, with the hihat slightly late, so it's landing between the & and the following downbeat. I hope it's obvious what to do with the big 16th note fill in the second page— you don't play exactly what I wrote, you play the idea. Obviously he's playing in a kinetic kind of way, and every single note of the idea didn't connect with the drums. 

Through all of this the tempo is holding steady— maybe it picked up a few BPM, or maybe it's just a sampling error. I'm just letting the software tell me the tempo, based on my markers.    

Get the pdf

Monday, February 08, 2021

Page o' coordination: grocery store hemiola - 01

So-called because I found myself unconsciously tapping this out in the grocery store parking lot while waiting for them to bring out my groceries. 

...incidentally, for the sake of limiting your exposure to COVID-19, I highly recommend the curb side service when getting your groceries, if your store offers it. Right now the Fred Meyer where I get my groceries— a Kroger market— offers the service free of charge. 

So I was tapping pattern 1 with my RH/LF while waiting for the guy to bring out my stuff, and for fun I wrote up a PAGE O' COORDINATION for it. 


There are independent parts for snare drum and bass drum, but you can/should play them all on either drum. Use the stock tom moves when playing these with your left hand. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Griener on stick selection

Here's a forum comment by our friend Michael Griener in Berlin, which I wanted to preserve on this site. Michael is an excellent, very active drummer in Germany and throughout Central Europe, in jazz and avante-garde music, and also an active teacher in Berlin and Dresden. He's also been a big supporter of Cymbal & Gong cymbals, and very helpful in getting the cymbals to Germany. Michael has several Cymbal & Gong Mersey Beat and Leon Collection cymbals

UPDATE: I posted some video of Michael playing on Cymbalistic.

Here he gives his personal journey with stick selection, and how it reflects performance concerns and cymbal selection for jazz drummers. I recognize a lot of my own experiences here, except I never settled on an acceptable solution on my own. The comment is in context of a conversation about looking for a jazz stick other than the very common choice, the Vic Firth SD-4 Combo. 

Here's Michael: 

I used to play Maple sticks for years, although I went for SD2 (Bolero style) instead of SD4 Combo. I ended up with the now discontinued Gregg Field [coincidentally, my old teacher at USC- tb] endorser model, which was a maple stick in between a SD2 and a SD4. But as nice as Maple sticks feel, those sticks tend to make a darker sound which is pleasant for you as a drummer listening to yourself, but the cymbals tend to get buried in the mix.

The Bopworks Birdland model [one of Michael's favored models] was built after an old Roy Haynes model, and all the older sticks I came across had a long taper which was the reason why sticks started to break after drummers had to match their volume with amplified instruments.

So stick design changed in the early seventies. I think Pro Mark was the first company to make their sticks thicker around the taper, but that threw off the balance of the sticks. Drummers had to work harder to play a fast ride pattern and played louder as a consequence.

I found that drummers with bigger sticks (more mass, not necessarily more weight) tend to play louder and overpower thin jazz ride cymbals. That's probably one reason for those unlathed cymbals came into fashion a couple of years ago since you can't overpower them. They have an in-built limiter and my students used to like them when they weren't able to control a cymbal.

When I met with Pete La Roca, he used small Regal Tip 7A's with nylon tips, because he wanted his cymbals to get heard without overplaying.

I had Frank Kincel of LA Backbeat make me a special stick model which is .505 thick with a very long taper and I haven't broken one of them yet. Great sticks, especially for piano trios.

When I need a bit more beef, I use LA Backbeat's JBX 535 (J=Jazz= lighter wood, B=Bounce= longer taper, X=extra length=16"), but then I usually play with acoustic instruments only. But with those sticks I can control lighter cymbals and don't need to hold back.

I want a clear sound to make my time be heard in the band. I never could understand why people liked nylon tips at all, but now that I don't break sticks anymore the wooden tips wear off after some months. I now use clear finger nail hardener to convert my worn tips into nylon tips temporarily, but that needs to be redone every couple of weeks. The only problem is that my sticks now last so long that I'm afraid my favorite stick companies will go out of business since I'm not buying enough.

So, people, please seek out people like Frank Kincel of LA Backbeat and Chris Bennett of Bopworks and buy their sticks! Keep them going!


Todd again: See also my jazz stick roundup and Bopworks stick reviews. To get a further idea of why the Bopworks sticks are special, also see this interview with Chris Bennett, shared with me by Michael. 

Friday, February 05, 2021

Velocity stickings for Syncopation, Lesson 10

For a couple of my students I've written a set of velocity stickings to use with Lesson 10 (pp. 22-23) in Syncopation. They're designed to be played fast, hey? These will be a godsend for everyone trying to do that hyperactive contemporary thing with the super fast embellishments— like if you have your eye on some hihats with giant holes in them, and are really digging super high, dry, white noise-like percussion sounds... what every single drummer in the world under ~ age 30 is into right now.     

This should really be expanded into a new e-book, so I won't overdo it writing a maximal number of patterns. I've given my suggested release note(s), but any sticking ending with a single R or L can release on either hand; stickings ending with a double should release on the opposite hand. Some stickings will start with the same hand every measure, others will switch lead hands every measure.  

Play the 8th note portion of each measure however you like. I suggest starting with all R hand, all L hand, alternating starting with R, and alternating starting with L.

To simplify the first measure of each drill, on exercises with 16ths crossing the barline (lines 8, 12, 13), I play 8th notes until I hit the first full two or three beat run of 16ths, starting on beats 3 or 4. Or just use my example rhythms below. Interpret these in cut time, so the 16th notes function as 32nd notes— the eight-note subdivision.

1. One beat of 16ths - lines 1-4, 14-15

RLLR  R/L  -  LRRL  L/R
RRLR  L  -  LLRL  R
RLRR  L  -  LRLL  R






2. Two beats of 16ths - lines 5-8 

RLLR  LRRL  R/L  -  LRRL  RLLR  L/R
RLLR  LRLL  R  -  LRRL  RLRR  L
RLLR  LLRL  R/L  -  LRRL  RRLR  L/R 
RLLR  LLRR  L  -  LRRL  RRLL  R

RRLR  LRRL  R  -  LLRL  RLLR  L 
RRLR  LRLL  R  -  LLRL  RLRR  L 
RRLR  RLRR  L  -  LLRL  LRLL  R

RLRR  LRRL  R  -  LRLL  RLLR  L 
RLRR  LLRR  L  -  LRLL  RRLL  R
RLRR  LLRL  R  -  LRLL  RRLR  L 






3. Three beats of 16ths - lines 9-10, 12-13

RLLR  LRRL  RLLR  R/L  -  LRRL  RLLR  LRRL  L/R
RLLR  LRRL  LRRL  R/L  -  LRRL  RLLR  RLLR L/R
RLLR  LRLL  RLLR  L  -  LRRL  RLRR  RLLR  L
RLLR  RLRL  LRRL  R  -  LRRL  LRLR  RLLR  L

RLRL  LRLR  LRRL  R  -  LRLR  RLRL  RLLR  L 
RLRL  RLLR  LRLR L/R  -  LRLR  LRRL  RLRL  R/L
RLRL  RRLR  RLRL R  -  LRLR  LLRL  LRLR  L
RLRL  LRRL  RLLR  L  -  LRLR  RLLR  LRRL  R

RLRR  LRRL  RLLR  L  -  LRLL  RLLR  LRRL  R
RLRR  LRRL  LRRL  R  -  LRLL  RLLR  RLLR  L
RLRR  LLRL  LRRL  R  -  LRLL  RRLR  LRRL  L 
RLRR  LRRL  LRLL  R  -  LRLL  RLLR  RLRR  L 






4. Four beats of 16ths - line 11

I'm skipping this for now. Try repeating any of the two-beat stickings that release on the same hand they start with. 





Perhaps we'll see a new e-book on this topic in the coming weeks/months! In the meantime see my e-book 13 Essential Stickings, which is designed around this basic premise of stickings that are easy to play fast, as well as my page of velocity stickings in 3/4 and 12/8

Monday, February 01, 2021

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Chasin' the Trane - 06

Part 6 of the Chasin' the Trane transcription project. Elvin Jones playing on that eternal classic track from John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard. My head isn't fully back into this series, so I don't have a lot to say about it. Perhaps we're getting a little bit wilder, seeing more triplets? The transcription runs from 5:49-7:00, so we're nearing ~45% completion. 


Keep an eye out for the the bass drum in the middle of the triplet lick— it happens several times. See how much of what follows it is similar, or the same. It's not like it's a major lick, it's just a little emergent pattern of the kind that develops when you play a lot. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Philly Joe kicks and set ups

Companion to the Philly Joe Jones appreciation from the other day— I've transcribed some kicks and setups from the tune Soft Winds, from Chet Baker In New York. Jones plays figures all through the head; the time feel just to fill out some partial measures. In December I also wrote out the drum solo from this tune. It's an all around excellent track for jazz beginners to listen to, play along with, and learn. Dig up a chart, or write it out, play it with your friends. 



We're just looking at the broad outlines— I haven't written every detail of what he plays. Listen, and use the transcription as a guide. There are a few markings for straight 8ths, stick shots, and cymbal chokes. The straight 8th lick is very hip; I use variations of it all the time. Notice that he plays it a little different every time, sometimes very legato. On the head out he's using a brush, or a brush and a stick, or one brush played backwards. It doesn't matter, play it with sticks or brushes. Notice in the first measure of the head out Joe plays the kicks in the wrong spot— the trumpet is correct there. He also plays around it a little bit near the end. 

Get the pdf

Friday, January 29, 2021

Key players: Philly Joe Jones

This series is difficult for me, because it means writing a lot of words about somebody's playing, at which I am not good. I never felt a need to put it into words. It also takes some nerve to say let me tell you all about Philly Joe Jones, when I know at least a dozen people in town with more meaningful things to say about him. 

I never had a passionate Philly Joe phase. With many players, you get so into them that, for a time, the way they play seems like the only way to play. I wasn't aware of that, but I think I was trying  to play like him anyway, because he's inescapable. He's like oxygen, he's everywhere on the records you listen to, and his stuff is just what you play

Listening to him now I hear a complete architecture, like somebody dropped the Chrysler building in the middle of the recording. I don't know when my perception caught up with reality, which is: 

Philly Joe Jones is a pure classic entity, the hard core of the practice of jazz drumming for all time. In my mind the strongest, clearest voice playing modern bop in the 50s. He's on many of the biggest records of the period, and is often well-featured, and well-recorded. Most often he's a sideman, so you hear him doing the true drummer's job, playing assertively in a supportive role. He seems to have wrapped up and finished a lot things created by Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, and Art Blakey.   

Generally a clean way of playing— in the sense that everything is lined up, and he's not fluffing the more technical stuff. Compare with Max Roach and Art Blakey, both of whose execution can be rougher at times. He's also clean in the sense that his “style” may not seem real overt to naive ears— at least compared to some of the other very greatest players— the “Magnificent Seven”. In no small part because so much of his playing = normal jazz vocabulary now. The stuff is so familiar that he becomes invisible. It's easier to sense the character of his playing by comparing him with other top 50s drummers— with, for example, the very clean, bright, and chipper Joe Morello or Stan Levey. Next to them Philly Joe is edgier, with a very substantive, deep R&B sound. That sound is what we're after. That's the whole thing we're after. 

He is snare drum oriented, and rudiment oriented, with a rather crusty sound on the snare drum— I can only contrast it with Buddy Rich's hyper-aggressive brassy sound. Joe is much funkier. You can get some of his vocabulary through Charley Wilcoxon's books. He's one of the first players I associate with a really polished brush technique— I see some vestiges of the showy, classy, vaudeville thing I associate with Papa Jo Jones. Maybe those observations just reflect the narrowness of my education. 

His cymbal beat is fairly straight, with a solid quarter note pulse— with an emphasis on the skip note when playing in 2. I don't hear a particular accent on 2/4, and I don't have the impression of hearing a lot of variations in the overall rhythm, except at the beginnings of choruses, or at other times when he's dropping a lot of big accents. He does have a variety of very distinct inflections with the cymbal, for example suggesting a 2 feel, or a double time two feel. Everyone does that, but there's a particular authority with Jones, like it's a real part of his presentation. 

He generally uses larger drums— a 22" bass drum, and 13 and 16" tom toms. Not necessarily real big cymbals— often a 20" ride, with a moderately bright, complex 50s A. sound. I'm sure he's using Ks part of the time. Strong hihat on 2 and 4, a la Blakey, with frequent open hihat/bass drum accents on 4 at the top of a chorus or section. He's moderately active with the bass drum; he doesn't do a fully-integrated thing like Elvin Jones, but he does use it interactively in his soloing. As I've noted before, he will sometimes alternate measures/phrases of snare drum ideas with measures of bass drum interactive ideas. Generally it's a deliberate, sparse, bomb-like attitude with the big drum. I can't recall having the impression of him feathering audibly, although he's certainly doing it. 

He has a lot of interesting, hip ways of setting up kicks. Listen for that

Finally, there is an aspect of his drumming that gets missed— this is not just jam session drumming. There is a show aspect here; much of what he does is about presenting the band, setting a stage environment for the performance of that tune. You definitely hear that with Max Roach and Art Blakey, too, and others. 

This is all just an invitation to do your own listening; you'll probably find many counter-examples to my observations. Just listen and start making your own wrong observations. There are many videos of people telling you all about his playing, and maybe they don't all suck. Listen to 99 minutes of his playing for every one minute of that.  

Ten + records: 
Miles Davis - The New Quintet, Round About Midnight, Milestones, every other Miles record
John Coltrane - Blue Train
Bill Evans - Everybody Digs...
Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin'
Milt Jackson - Bags Meets Wes
Clark Terry - In Orbit
Sonny Rollins - Newk's Time
Hank Mobley - Poppin' 

Some tracks: 
Billy Boy - Miles Davis
Two Bass Hit - Miles Davis
Dear Old Stockholm - Miles Davis
The Theme - Miles Davis
Oleo - Miles Davis
Night And Day - Bill Evans
Pot Luck - Wynton Kelly
Soft Winds - Chet Baker

Please leave your own tune / album recommendations in the comments— to me these examples just = jazz. I'm not always looking for dynamite drumming performances. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Stone flam beats as independence patterns

I like doing this once in awhile: converting familiar materials into another format. Rhythm patterns (plus filler) can be converted to sticking patterns, accent patterns can be converted to rhythm patterns, sticking patterns can be converted to accent patterns... and vice versa. Any of them can be put into another rhythm or meter. We infer a lot of what we do on the drum set from those types of materials.  

Here I've written the eighteen basic flam beat patterns from Stick Control (p. 16) as coordination patterns for two voices, with the flams written as unisons. 



I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of use for this, but I often think about it when I'm practicing those pages. Like, what rhythm is each hand actually playing? It's good to know. For me it does illustrate how inane the Stone patterns are as real drum set vocabulary. It's rather dense nonsense, weighted on the 1. Good for developing an Ed Blackwell style of soloing on the tom toms, though. 

One possible place to take this, to make a Garibaldi-esque funk groove: eliminate the snare hit on every 1, or play that note on the bass drum. Accent the left hand on every beat 2, ghost the other LH notes. Add bass drum to any remaining RH-only notes you wish, or in gaps in the rhythm— es of the beat on patterns 1-7. You may find some connection with this and the funk stick control patterns I wrote back in November. 

Get the pdf

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

“Snare Conditioner” in 6/8

I mentioned to Adam Osmianski that I wanted a 6/8 version of his transcription of the found-music malfunctioning air conditioner drum solo, and he encouraged me to go ahead and do it myself, so here we are. It sounds really hip in 4/4 or in 6/8— it reminds me of Billy Higgins playing on Shimmy Shewobble, which I transcribed back in 2015. Sort of an Africanized march. These versions in 6/8 should be good for filling and soloing during an Afro 6 feel

 


Tempo is about dotted-quarter note = 150. I've given two versions, one with the first note of the recording on beat 1, the other with the first note as an anticipation. The first one has a lot of successive measures leaning heavily on the middle subdivision— see the third and fourth lines on the first page; the second version has less of that. The second one will be a little easier for most people. 

Go to thatdrumblog.blogspot.com to get the original version in 4/4.

Get the pdf of the 6/8 versions

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Transcription: Jack Dejohnette - Mr. Clean

Took a break from the really long and hard Elvin Jones transcription and did something else really hard. From the Freddie Hubbard album Straight Life, this is Jack Dejohnette playing behind Joe Henderson's solo on Mr. Clean. It's quite dense. The transcription begins at 3:58. 
 


It gets so dense I was presented with some formatting problems— like if anyone's going to do anything with it, I have to do one measure per line on a lot of it:  


I've put brackets over a few things that are easy to work out as patterns. There's probably more, but I didn't take a lot of time to analyze it. You could actually write a whole book breaking down what he plays here. 

He plays 8th notes on the ride cymbal almost the entire time, when he's not doing textural/soloistic stuff. You can hear that the accents on the cymbal vary dramatically— he's not just playing it at an even volume. 

All of the slashes indicate 32nd note open doubles. I've also written out the actual 32nd notes. If you want to work some of this out, be looking for ways to use doubles or mixed paradiddle type stickings. I think relatively little of the fast stuff will be played as singles. 

Regarding the 32nd note quintuplets— do what you will. What I've written is accurate, but than can be deceptive as to what's really going on. It's really fast, do what you want with it. With much of the fast stuff you can hit main accents and fill it up whatever way is most comfortable to you. Without knowing the actual stickings he used, it's pointless to try to play something weird exactly accurately to the transcription.  

The hihat is irregular, and is not integral to the rest of what he's doing. I notice he tends to play it in the middle of the measure. I include it for information purposes; you can play it on the &s, or play it on all the 8th notes, or not at all. 

Get the pdf

Saturday, January 23, 2021

From the zone: Snare Conditioner

This was not a legitimate FTZ submission, but I am bequeathing it with that title because this is EXACTLY the kind of crap you're supposed to do when holed up in your studio because of a pandemic for 8 months.

London friend of the site Adam Osmianski transcribed a snare drum solo from someone's video “Broken air con that plays a jazz drum solo!!” Made by some random dork amused over a musical sounding appliance. 

The thing is, IT'S GREAT. Better than anything in found in psha books. I'm not joking, this should be your new flam exercise for snare drum starting tonight. I'm subtly pleading with him to write it out in 6/8. 



Hop over to Adam's site to download the transcription, and check out a lot of other excellent drumming-related content. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Inauguration day

One of many inspiring moments.
I got nothing today, congratulations to everyone on this late move towards national sanity. I suggest watching President Biden's inauguration this morning if you haven't. Even after four years of daily escalating moral outrages, you do have to see normal, competent, empathetic people who actually believe in this country in these positions to realize how truly alien were that last batch of criminals. 

Oh, and a drummer angle: according to technique specialist Bill Bachman, there are a couple of Moeller-built rope drums being used in the ceremonies.  

Update: Another drummer thing I liked: Foo Fighters played the evening event, and the drummer, Taylor Hawkins, was using a four piece set with two added concert toms, a la Ndugu Leon Chancler— a lot of people did it in the 70s, but my favorite examples of it are Ndugu's. They're a really effective addition, and you have to position them out of the way, so you don't overuse them. Unlike the 10" tom tom right in front of the snare drum. Dig it: 

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.   

Get the pdf

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.  

Get the pdf

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. 

Get the pdf

Monday, January 11, 2021

Hemiola funk series: all basic patterns in 3/8

UPDATE: Download link works now!

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. 

Get the pdf

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... 

...so... 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. 

Get the pdf