Sunday, August 13, 2023

Solo transcription: Ben Riley - Blues Five Spot

Solo by Ben Riley on Blues Five Spot, from the Thelonious Monk record Live At The It Club. Great record, and core literature. I think of Ben Riley's playing as maybe the cleanest shot we get at pure, classic-form modern bop drumming. Everything's real clean and worked out, and not idiosyncratic. Still, he plays creatively and has a nice musical sound, and he's real enjoyable to listen to. 

The tune is a 12 bar blues, and Riley solos over four choruses— 48 bars. He doesn't seem to be outlining the choruses strongly— especially as he gets into the long roll— but if you sing the tune over the solo, it all makes sense. He does make the end clear by playing rhythm stuff on the last four bars before the head out. 

Riley feathers the bass drum basically all the way through this. It's very worked out— if he makes an accent on the & of 2, he probably feathered it on 2, and was back into the feathering on 4. We see something like that in bars 22, 46, and 47. There's very little audible hihat, so I left it out. Occasionally I'll hear it on a beat 2 or 4. 

The 16th note moves around the toms are a little unusual, he moves on the es and as— clearly there's some kind of mixed paradiddle type sticking there. Figure out a sticking that works for you, and pencil it in. 

Be careful with the abbreviations here— remember how those work: total slashes/beams on a note = note value you play for the duration of the written note. Two slashes and/or beams on a note = play 16ths, three slashes and/or beams = play 32nds, or actually, roll. 

Notice some of the abbreviated rhythms have tuplet indications above them— several 5s and a couple of 3s. The 3s indicated a 16th note triplet, likely sticked RRL. The 5s indicate tap five stroke rolls, played in a quintuplet rhythm: RLLRR LRRLL. It's not that unusual a thing. I see I haven't written about abbreviated rhythms yet— see Podemski for a complete breakdown of how that works. 

Get the pdf

Blogger isn't letting me embed the video, so listen to the recording here, or dig it out of your record collection, you should own it. 

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