Thursday, June 21, 2012

Music, Music, Music

Ballads and calligraphy
A statement
This is sort of the opposite end of the spectrum from the last post.  To me, great ballad drumming is somewhat akin to Japanese calligraphy.  In order to work, both art forms have to be approached with almost unselfconscious mastery and be defined as much by negative space as positive (check out 4:59 above for a stunning example of negative space).  Here is a excerpt from the related Wikipedia article:

"For any particular piece of paper, the calligrapher has but one chance to create with the brush. The brush strokes cannot be corrected and even a lack of confidence will show up in the work. The calligrapher must concentrate and be fluid in execution. The brush writes a statement about the calligrapher at a moment in time."

Kenny Washington exemplifies this kind of mastery.  Every motion he makes on this recording has a purpose, and every motion he doesn't make has a purpose as well.  His playing is entirely in service of the music without even a trace of self-aggrandizement.  As a listener, this kind of music gives me the feeling of being present in a particular moment and being grateful for that moment. 


  1. Beautiful brush playing. It IS akin to a painter painting a picture- positive space vs negative space, a gentle sweep vs a more affirmative statement.
    I also noticed a distinct lack of cymbals in his approach, one thing that did detract from some of Paul Motian's live playing with Bill Evans. (That incessant sizzle cymbal).His studio recordings were 'cleaner' and better in my opinion.
    Love the false ending in this piece.

    1. Man, good call! I always felt like that cymbal was sticking out too much.