Saturday, October 29, 2011

The two songs of jazz part 2

In the Tony Williams post yesterday I touched on the idea of the historical evolution of the drum set.  Here is a longer explanation of that concept from the introduction to my forthcoming book "Melodic Syncopation":

In addition to being designed around melodies, the exercises in this book are further categorized into seven sections, each devoted to an important drummer.  These drummers represent the evolution of jazz drumming and are all worthy of study and emulation. The exercises in each drummer’s section develop an ability that corresponds to a significant element of that drummer’s sound.

The drummers are arranged chronologically by date of birth, and as you proceed through the book you will see how each one both explores new ideas and techniques on the drums and also refers back to earlier drumming styles.  In general, the trend in jazz drumming moves from a relatively strict supporting function, with a limited focus on specific parts of the drum set (Papa Jo), all the way to an almost continuously improvised leading function, with a nearly equal treatment of all parts of the drum set (Tony Williams). 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tony Williams: Developing your own voice

Tony Williams is famous for contributing massively to the expanding role of the drummer, from sophisticated time-keeper to "emotional energy center of the band" (Beyond Bop Drumming).  He has one of the most immediately recognizable voices in the history of jazz drumming.  Here is a taste:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Art Blakey: Using groove to drive the band

There isn't a drummer in the history of jazz who could drive a band harder or with more fire than Art Blakey.  Listen to how he relentlessly he pushes the band on the song "One By One":