Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Papa Jo #2: Call and response

Call and Response
Papa Jo and the music of his day were rich with examples of call and response. If you go to 2:15 in the wonderful video above you can see Papa Jo really having fun with this idea by having the two sides of his body talk to each other.

The following exercise from my forthcoming book "Melodic Syncopation" is designed to help you start to cultivate this technique in your own playing. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beginning Improvisation Part 3

Two new elements
In the last post in this series we discussed using in eighth notes and dynamics.  In today's exercise we are going to be dealing with two new elements, sixteenth notes and orchestrating rhythms around the drums. 

Uptempo Jazz 3: Ulysses Owens

This particular post is more for inspiration than a specific exercise.  That being said, there are some big lessons to absorb from Ulysess's fantastic uptempo playing.  

1.  Clear brush sound
First, his big and clear brush sound at this absurd tempo.  This brush playing is reminiscent of Kenny Washington, another drummer who I plan to feature in the uptempo jazz series and someone who everyone should definitely check out if you haven't already!  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Into A College Jazz Program: Part 1

Demystifying the college application/audition process
For any student going through the college admission process there is always going to be a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety.   But one of the most daunting of college admissions processes has got to be the jazz audition.  Because I have gone through this process myself, and because I have helped many private students through this process, I want to start demystifying the application/audition process for those of you out there who are going through it now. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Moeller Stroke: Jeff Hamilton style

The original inspiration for this technique comes from a fantastic Ray Brown trio album called "Black Orpheus" featuring Jeff Hamilton and Gene Harris.  On the the opening track "The Days of Wine and Roses", Jeff plays some phenomenal rolls around the drum set.  There is a similar sort of roll at around 1:50 in the video above.  The following exercises will help you work your way towards this technique using a variation of the Moeller stroke. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Space: The final frontier

Letting the music breathe
Music is all about timing.  It's not just about the notes you play, it's about when you play them.  The key to timing is leaving space in your playing, because space lets the music breathe.

In an earlier post I talked about how successful drumming was similar to successful speaking.  In that case I was talking about dynamics, but the same can be said of leaving space.  Leaving space between words or phrases when you are speaking emphasizes what you are saying.  Similarly, leaving space in music emphasizes what you are playing. 

Lewis Nash: This is also what I am talking about

This video, just like the last post about Ari Hoenig, is an example of a master drummer with a really clear melodic concept.  This time it is Lewis Nash accompanying his own singing.  Although the ability to be able to do a vocal performance of this caliber is impressive, the main point is that Lewis is really able to really hear these lines and can respond to them appropriately. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ari Hoenig: This is what I am talking about

Soloing over form
This is an excellent explanation of some of the techniques of melodic drum soloing architecture from the earlier Max Roach post.  It also means a lot to hear this from Ari who is a real master of this type of playing.   

For more lessons from drummers like Eric Harland and Ralph Peterson check out jazzheaven.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Should all jazz musicians learn how to play the drums?

I originally started this conversation on the All About Jazz forum, and was surprised at the consensus that all musicians would benefit from learning some drums.  Here is the original question that I posed:

"So most jazz musicians agree (myself included) that drummers should learn some piano in order to better understand what is going on around them, and have a more well-rounded approach to music generally. It is easy as a drummer to succumb to a kind of rhythmic tunnel-vision, and piano can help mitigate that by forcing drummers to focus on melody and harmony.

So here is my question, couldn't the same thing be true for other instruments? That is, shouldn't other instrumentalists learn some drums in order to better understand what is going on around them, and have a more well-rounded approach to music generally? I think that everybody intuitively agrees that rhythm is of particular importance in jazz music, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing".  So why do so few other instrumentalists learn how to play drums? "
What do you guys think?  Should other instrumentalists learn some drums?  If yes, what are the benefits?  If no, why not?   Post your answers below.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beginning Improvisation Part 2

Two new elements
In the first post about learning to improvise, I introduced the basic idea of improvising simple rhythms in time.  In the following exercise we will start to deal with two new elements.  The first element is the eighth note which will change the density of the rhythms you are playing.  The second element is dynamics which will allow you to change the volume of your rhythms.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Essential books for jazz drummers

This is a list of books that I consider essential for anyone who wants to learn jazz drumming:

This book is a classic reading text that I recommend not so much for the book itself, as for the curriculum that has been built up around this book over the years.  "Syncopation" has been used as the basis for innumerable exercises for developing jazz coordination, most successfully and famously by Alan Dawson in the following book on this list. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

jazztruth: Jam Session Etiquitte; The Obvious

jazztruth: Jam Session Etiquitte; The Obvious: I've been going to jam sessions off and on for easily 20 years or more. (Yeah, I'm older than you might think. I actually got carded the ot...

Max Roach: Comping as soloing

Comping as soloing
In an earlier post I discussed Max's approach to soloing in a general sense.  In today's post I am going to zero in on a particular solo technique that Max used very frequently, and to great effect.  The technique I am referring to is using comping as a vehicle for soloing.  Essentially for Max this meant soloing using his left hand and right foot while keeping the time going in his right hand and left foot. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beginning Improvisation Part 1

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get from students who are starting to learn to improvise is "What do I play?".  This post will be the first of series where I will give you exercises to start to answer this question for yourself.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Loving the bass

One of the great benefits of playing the drums is that you get to sit right next to the bass and soak up its beautiful sound all night.  Drummers, if you do not love the sound of the bass you have a hard road ahead of you.  In order for the music to really work, you and the bass player are going to have to create a strong, musical partnership.  This parnership between the two of you is the rhythmic foundation for the entire band, it's engine.  All the great bands in the history of jazz have relied on this partnership.