Sunday, July 07, 2019

João Gilberto (1931 - 2019)

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know what a huge loss this is.

Alongside other greats such as Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Oscar Casto Neves, and Luiz Bonfá, João Gilberto essential created an entirely new genre of music in Bossa Nova.  As this nice article from NPR says:
Gilberto deserves to be a kind of patron saint of understatement, whose early recordings transformed the boisterous celebration of samba parades into music of arresting intimacy.
Despite being a guitarist, Gilberto's relaxed rhythmic drive is something for which all of us drummers should strive.  His phrasing was second to none; meticulous and impeccably placed with the coolest sense of nonchalance one can imagine. It is for precisely these reasons why in the past I have recommended playing along to Gilberto’s records in YBTD posts.

Though it's a sad day for all lovers of Brazilian music, we are in the fortunate position in this day and age of having hundreds of records that we can still listen to, from which we can continued to learn and draw inspiration.

Obrigado, maestro, por tudo que você nos deu.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Developing a Kiko Freitas-style left hand samba ostinato

I've been working a lot with the Kiko Freitas idea that I posted last week, wherein Kiko plays the underlying samba rhythm... his left hand, and teleco teco... his right hand.

Put together it looks like this....

Of course, to work up this particular pattern up one needs only to take it in small chunks and piece it together.  But if we think of this as a concept, rather than just one groove, we can make so much more out of it.

In this idea, our left hand plays an ostinato, essentially doing the job that our right hand generally does; it becomes a ride pattern.  So, if we can make this left hand pattern second nature to the point where we can improvise (i.e. comp) with our right hand, we'll have opened up a whole world of possibilities.

The best way to attack this is the same way you learned to comp with your left hand while playing a swing pattern on the ride cymbal; practice playing the right hand on each division of the beat, then in groupings of twos, then threes, and finally, add stylistic figures such as partido alto and teleco teco.

If you spend some time with this sheet it shouldn't be too long before you feel comfortable enough to start improvising with the right hand on the ride cymbal or a tamborim.  In an upcoming post we'll talk about how to improvise with these rhythms in a stylistically accurate fashion.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Kiko Freitas-style samba

It's been about 12 years since a Brazilian friend of mine first introduced me to the drumming of Kiko Freitas.  Recently I finally got to see him play live with Brazilian legend João Bosco.  Kiko was one of the first Brazilian drummers I was exposed to when started really digging in to this music.  He’s one of those drummers who sounds exactly like their records when playing live which was hugely satisfying.

I’ve written about Kiko’s playing before on this blog, and mentioned him in a couple of my Modern Drummer articles from a few years back.  In the MD article I mentioned a signature groove of his whereby he plays this rhythm on every beat in his left hand.

This underlying rhythm is one of the driving forces behind samba.  In his right hand he then plays 8th notes, so we're left with this:

By sticking it in this way we get a steady stream of really swinging 16th notes, but our right hand is free to do a little bit more.  The most basic approach would be to move between the ride and snare, like so:

It’s also quite nice to go to the floor tom to emulate a surdo.

These grooves are particularly useful when playing a fast samba where most of us mortals can’t play that crazy-fast right hand thing that guys like Kiko and Edu Ribeiro can do.

I really enjoyed seeing Kiko put this groove to use with João Bosco in London a couple weeks back.  And at the concert he took this idea to another level.  He still had the 1ea rhythm in his left hand, but he then proceeded to play a telecoteco pattern on his ride cymbal, which was absolutely killer.

I was able to find a video of Kiko playing this groove on YouTube.  This particular pattern start around 1:49.

As with any groove there's a lot more to it than is notated.  You'll have to listen and play along to properly imitate the inflection and swing.

Try any or all of the ideas above with some of these rhythms in your feet.

And also remember that there’s always the “Jazz Samba Builder” that you can pull some ideas from as well.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Shuffles according to Keith Carlock

Not much to say about this one.  Pretty much does what it says on the box.  In a video for Keith breaks down a few different types of shuffles.  His drums sound great, his playing sounds great, the tempos are awesome; all the makings of some great practice loops.  So, here they are, along with a sheet that has each one notated along with a few extra variations.





And here is the accompanying sheet.  Drop me an e-mail for a PDF.

Monday, March 25, 2019

7-stroke roll permutations

I recently had a friend working on rolls, and in asking me some questions about them I realized that he was only playing them exactly as they are written in the 40 PAS rudiments.  To my mind, the numbered rolls are simply an indicator of how many strokes are to be played within a certain amount of space, and should not be limited to the way they are notated on the chart hanging in every percussion studio in the world.  So I whipped up this handy dandy sheet of a few simple permutations of the 7-stroke roll.

Also included are the various styles of notation, which we’ve already covered before.  For less experienced players, I find this more modern style of notation to be a little be clearer in showing how many strokes are intended and where the composer would like those notes to be placed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dig This - Philly Joe videos

There is surprisingly little footage of Philly Joe out there.  But seemingly out of nowhere, this live video of a late Bill Evans trio with Philly Joe and Marc Johnson just popped up yesterday:

And then sure enough, in the "Up next" section, I see this interview with Jones from a Jazz Oral History project at Howard University.  I haven't even watched it yet, but I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Very basic (but useful!) Syncopation concepts

I've been noticing lately that a number of my students - particularly some of the stronger players - have some deeply ingrained habits when it comes to stickings.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but those habits certainly can (and do) cause repetition of musical ideas, and often prevent them from expressing their ideas.

Because they are more advanced players it's easy to keep throwing advanced concepts at them as they are fun for me to teach and they enjoy learning them.  But sometimes it's important for both the student and myself to take a step back to revisit the "easy" stuff.

This is obviously not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination; as a matter of fact it's probably much the oldest one in the book.  There is now about 18 million different ways of using Ted Reed's Syncopation, but for once we're going to do what it says on the box; we're going to play the music as it's written!  But we're going to stick it a few different ways, and you might find that some feel more comfortable than others.  Or, in my case, you'll find that students who can play some really difficult music still struggle with some of these basic stickings.

Head over to your old friend, page 37, and start by playing the whole page, as written, with alternating sticking; by which we mean you change hands with each stroke no matter where in the bar it falls.

Next, play the same page with natural sticking, meaning play each stroke where it would naturally fall if your hands were playing constant 8th notes.  In the case of this rhythm it means all of the downbeats will be on one hand, and all upbeats on the other, like so...

And speaking of constant 8th notes, if you or a student are struggling with natural sticking, or even if you're not, trying filling in all of the 8th notes and treat the written rhythm like accents.

Scoff if you will, but this is something we should all revisit from time to time, and I definitely recommend getting your students to do it

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Applying the Rudiments - 5-Stroke Roll

I find one of the biggest disconnects with younger/less experienced players is between rudiments and actual music.  So often they're told, "You need to learn your rudiments!", but not why they should learn the rudiments, or how to actively apply them to music making.

So, let's start with a pretty basic applications in a straight ahead sort of style, first by playing the 5-stroke roll as it's often notated in books:

Next, trade fours with yourself, preferably with a metronome, or better yet, a record.  Four bars of time, and four bars of 5-stroke roll as written above.  For now keep your feet going while you "solo", like so:

There are infinite possibilities here when it comes to orchestration, but if this concept is new to you or your student let's just start by keeping all the double strokes on the snare and moving the single strokes to the toms; right hand to the floor tom, left hand to the mounted tom:

One of the things with rudiments that I don't think is immediately obvious to students is the idea of permutation.  Keep in mind that a 5-stroke roll is just that - five strokes; two double strokes and a single stroke.  There's nothing to say that it has to be played exactly as written above.  We can start it anywhere in the bar to create new rhythmic ideas.  With that in mind, try starting with the single stroke, and also starting on the upbeats.  For the sake of clarity I've left out the bass drum and hi-hat notation, but I'd still recommend keeping them in for now.

Let's play the single strokes as an eighth note rather than a quarter note for a longer phrase.  This will create a hemiola that will naturally resolve after three bars.  Try playing these in both four and eight bar phrases.  For four bar phrases you'll play measures 1, 2 and 3, and then measure 1 again.

And lastly (for now) turn the whole thing into triplets:

The examples here are just the tip of the iceberg as the possibilities really are endless.  Of course I recommend you put in your Wilcoxon time, and if you really want to go deeper into this stuff check out Joe Morello's book Rudimental Jazz.

Here's the whole sheet laid out.  Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like a PDF copy.