Friday, December 30, 2022

Practice loop: medium bossa

Probably my only post this week— we're having a wild end of 2022 around here, with my family experiencing an ongoing medical emergency, and I'm having to travel to Eugene a lot.  

So here's a nice easy loop for practicing bossa nova, samba and baiao rhythms at a slower tempo, about 110 bpm. Sampled from All Around, from Bebel Gilberto's great self titled album from 2004. 

My labels for Brazilian music related stuff are kind of a mess— most of the transcriptions and practice materials can be found under Bossa Nova and Brazil

Anyway happy 2023, in a couple of days— I'll be back with some new stuff next week. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Page o' coordination: Airto's afro

Page o' coordination based on Airto's unique afro 12/8 groove played on the intro of Casa Forte, from Flora Purim's album Stories To Tell.

It's a good introductory groove for this style— the hands are mostly in unison, and the rhythm is easy to follow. The bell rhythm is only different from the normal short bell rhythm by one note, but it seems like a whole different thing, and it should be much easier to work out the coordination.

As always, work out the patterns, then drill them by doing some moves with the left hand

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Friday, December 23, 2022

From the zone: left hand developer

 Here's a cool little exercise from a great drummer from Los Angeles, Sinclair Lott:  

You can see what's happening there— a table of time with a RLL sticking, with accents on the downbeats. Which makes your left hand do some stuff. Very elegant. 

Check out Sinclair's YouTube channel, which has some lovely playing, and cymbal demos. And get his latest record here. Buy people's records. 

Send in your FROM THE ZONE items— any of your handwritten stuff. It doesn't have to be finished, or good, or anything. I just like seeing what people scribble out in the wood shed because it wasn't in any of the books, and they needed it. Take a picture with your phone and send it.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Daily best music in the world: Roy Haynes with Charlie Parker LIVE

This is pretty amazing. Rough sounding live tape of Charlie Parker in 1951, with Roy Haynes on drums... sounding basically like any other subsequent time in his career. Incredibly modern playing for 1951. 

h/t to Mark Stryker of Jazz Times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Foolin' Myself - 03

We'll keep going with this. Part 3 of Elvin Jones playing on Foolin' Myself, from Lee Konitz's record Motion. This is the second chorus of Konitz's solo, starting at 1:57 in the track. 

The previous entries were pretty clean and straightforward, here there are a few unusual/organic things that don't resolve perfectly as something to practice. 

Like there are some 16th notes on the last beat of the fourth line— the 4e&a1 there. It didn't come out as intended, and there's no reason to practice it like it's deliberate vocabulary. And at the end of the 8th line there are four bass drum notes in a row, in a triplet rhythm— the first two are ghosted, the last two are played. It's an artifact of Elvin's technique, and of a certain physical momentum.  

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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Elvin's Biddy Oats

No, this is an ALL Elvin Jones site. I think we have to earn it if we're going to talk about him, put in some work, have some humility, don't be a leech. I imagine at D*umeo they refer to him as a “premium name”, with the monetary impact every time they use him all mapped out. Optimizing the Elvin Jones product to attract high-value consumers and suck off the most credibility and appearance of soul algorithmically.  

It's not cool, Elvin Jones is special. 

Anyway, following up on that post about that Haskell Harr march he played, I've transcribed exactly what he plays, more or less. There were some minor variations on the different recordings. The main difference from the original version is the added bass drum, the fp rolls at the beginning of the second half, and the roll off at the end:

The rolls are all multiple-bounce. The 5 an d 7 stroke markings are from the original piece, I didn't check to see if he did them that way. On the fp rolls he sometimes does that Elvin thing of putting putting in an extra bass drum note before the downbeat.  

A scholarly cat could dedicate some study to just how he handled the roll off solo break off on all the different recordings. He played it pretty loose. My scholarly instructions would be to vibe it, and don't be too exact about it. Make them come in on the 1 where you put it, not where it would be if there was a metronome running. 

In fact I think the study of Elvin Jones requires a serious commitment to figuring things out by vibe. It can't all be done analytically. Let's talk about that sometime. 

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Here it is on the new bootleg recording they just put out: 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Page o' coordination: hihat in the space

Here's a page based on this ongoing Elvin Jones transcription— I observed when he was playing time on the hihat, he would tend to close it before the beat. I also saw him doing that at a faster tempo, on Chasin' the Trane. And he often puts the hihat on the & of 1 in that Afro-waltz type feel. So let's work it out a little bit.    

Let's be clear that these are coordination patterns. Check out the transcriptions and recordings to see/hear how he actually does this— you don't want to go in and do this as an ongoing time feel. Though there's at least one kind of stock shuffle groove that does something like this

Swing the 8th notes, play the cymbal part on the hihat, observing the open sounds; also play it on the ride cymbal. Take care with articulating this distinctly from the normal hihat close on 2 and 4— doing it unthinkingly could mess with your time feel. 

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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Transcription: more medium tempo Elvin

Here's some more of Elvin Jones playing that same tune from yesterday, Foolin' Myself, from Lee Konitz's record Motion. This is the first chorus of Konitz's solo, starting at 0:58:

It's pretty straightforward if you want to learn what he's doing— take it 1, 2, or 4 measures at a time, ignoring the dynamic markings and articulations at first. Swing the 8th notes. 

Or just listen and follow along. You can approach it looking for “stuff to play”, but I listen now it just sounds like someone accomplishing time— I just hear attention to time. 

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Friday, December 09, 2022

Transcription: Elvin plays in 2

A little transcription of Elvin Jones playing in 2, on the hihat, on the head of Foolin' Myself from the Lee Konitz album Motion. In case you're short of comping ideas, or phrasing ideas when playing in 2. I've never played the tune, but it's a regular old 32 bar standard.  

That's open hihat all the way through, except + is a closed sound, and a staccato mark is half-open. He plays it softly with the foot in a few spots too. In fact much of the time he closes the hihat before the beat:  

This happened a lot on my titanic yet-unfinished transcription of Chasin' The Trane, too— his hihat landed before the 2 and 4. 

The rhythm is swung all the way through, but there are a few spots where I marked a dotted 8th and 16th note rhythm— where a comping note was very tight against the following beat. Those were ghosted, generally. 

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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Very occasional quote of the day: competition

“Music isn’t about competition, but about cooperation, doing s*t together and fitting in.”

—Miles Davis

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Cymbalistic: little cymbal day

CYMBALISTIC: Yesterday afternoon I went to Cymbal & Gong HQ to pick out a few things. I needed to pick out a 22" 11th Anniversary ride— an Elvin Jones tribute cymbal— for someone. They took the middle one. They others were excellent as well, and I can get them from C&G, until some other dealer buys them. All jazz weight, around 2250+ grams. 

Last chance to get those 2022 Schedule C deductions in, you know? And prices will be going up a bit after January 1st, hint hint... 

Here's a nice group of crashes I got, that will soon be for sale on my Cymbalistic site— all of them will be getting a heavy patina, which will funkify them substantially. Left to right they are: 18" A-style crash, 17" Janavar crash-ride, 16" A-style crash. I didn't get the gram weights, but they're all in the thin category, the Janavar might be a medium thin. 

I also got some 15" hihats, of which I'll post some video soon. [UPDATE: Forget it, they've sold... ] Lots of great cymbals in stock at Cymbal & Gong right now— I can pick something out for you if you don't see what you want on Cymbalistic. Just let me know! 

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Page o' coordination: Juju

I'm transcribing a little bit of Elvin Jones's playing on the Wayne Shorter tune Juju, which I originally did off the LP around 1988. It'll take some time to finish it, so here's a page developing the main groove from it— a version of the thing I've been calling an “Afro waltz.” Most people would probably say “Elvin waltz.”

Slightly different format from the usual POCs, exercises 1-10 build the particular groove Elvin played on the recording, and have specific drums assigned, including some changes to the bass drum rhythm. Exercises 11-18 have other left hand rhythms for basic fluency. 

Swing the 8th notes. Practice with and without the tie on the cymbal rhythm in the first measure. On exercises 11-18 you can do the stock left hand moves I use with these pages. 

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Here's the tune, it's a record you should know well:

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Best books: revisiting Rubank

The matte industrial looking horizon blue
cover has that depression era band room reek.
A fresh look at the very old, very turgid Rubank drum method books. Rubank, a series of method books for all band instruments, has been around since 1935, and is a core item in modern American school band literature. My only exposure to the book was in the 7th grade, when a teacher printed out a few pages for me. There are elementary, intermediate, and advanced volumes; here I'll mainly look at the elementary book, by Paul Yoger. 

Upshot: it's actually pretty good.  

I've never been completely happy with the available beginning snare drum books. Mitchell Peters's Elementary Snare Drum Studies is the best, but it's a little denser than it needs to be for average 5th-7th graders. 

All of these books have a few pages of fundamentals at the beginning, with a lot of verbiage, instructions on how to tuck a calf skin head, a picture of some jerk standing at a drum... all of which every kid in the world ignores completely. In Rubank there are just two pages of that, which are actually useful, covering grip, explanation of a roll (double stroke only), and a table of rhythm values and time signatures. 

The suggested right hand grip is interesting, a Moeller type grip with the fulcrum in back:

Then is the main body of the book, starting with four very useful pages of four measure rhythm studies, in 4/4, 2/2, 3/4, and 6/8 time. Then sections on 5, 7, and 9 stroke rolls, flams, and dotted notes, with more short studies— about 16 pages of those all together. All have stickings and counts marked in.  They're well graded and presented— better for younger students than Peters, or the Vic Firth and Roy Burns methods, which I have also used. 

It's a pretty quick introduction to the rhythms and time signatures they'll be playing in band class, with the more serious technical practice dedicated to rolls— that will be the hardest part for the target age group. The flam pages are good, and not over-technical.  

There's not a lot of verbiage, and what there is is pretty concise, even if it's not always phrased in a way that will be clear to students. But the point of that is not just for the student to read it and understand it immediately— it's more about giving the teacher the major points to re-explain to the student until they get it. 

There are pretty useless sections covering the bass drum, and some other band percussion instruments— cymbals, triangle, castanets, tom tom, woodblock, tambourine. And several pages of percussion parts for Rubank band pieces. 

There are eight OK pages outlining the 26 snare drum rudiments, and a few extra variants. Most are written in quarter notes, 8th notes, and 16th notes, and with roll notation, if there are rolls involved. The author wants us to play them slow to fast— all are marked with an accelerando— which I don't agree with. Acceptable, better than the usual single page list of rudiments.

The Intermediate book was written Robert Buggert, who has his own very old snare drum method book, that is pretty good, and long out of print. The intermediate Rubank book is all performance pieces for band percussion section— solo snare drum, snare and bass drum, full section. And a few band pieces. It's dated, and not real useful to me. There's also an advanced volume that I haven't seen yet. 

The elementary volume, even as it's pushing 90 years old, is still a pretty good first book for students in the 8-12 year old range. The roll section is a little out of balance for that age group, but rolls were important for that time and setting. Rudiments are covered but not over emphasized— it's not a hard core rudimental book a la Haskell Harr. It's a good overview of what a snare drummer, and band drummer, is. I'll probably use this with some younger students mainly for the rhythm portions.