Friday, January 16, 2015

Transcription - Elvin Jones, "Zoltan"

Somehow this blog has gone it's first full year without doing an Elvin Jones piece.  What's that all about?  Let's remedy this situation right now.

Here's a "Latin" groove from the Larry Young album, Unity.  Now, those of you who are regulars to the blog know that generally I don't care for the term "Latin", especially when referring to a very culturally specific type of music.  But Elvin gets a pass here.  A. Because he's Elvin, and B. because the groove he's playing isn't really idiomatic to one specific style.  We can certainly hear the influence of certain Afro-Cuban styles.  Elvin hints at cascara and Mozambique patterns but this truly is what I would consider "Latin Jazz".  There is a unique swing to it that will take some time playing with the recording to develop.

The groove begins at around 0:28 after the march intro.

While you're getting this under your hands, there's another great track that you can practice with.  I recently came across a Grant Green album that I wasn't previously familiar with.  Again, Elvin is on drums, and Larry Young is on organ, and this album also features Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.  The album is Grant Green's Street of Dreams, and the tune is the beautiful Charles Trenet classic "I Wish You Love".  The groove isn't 100% the same, but it's close enough to work on the "Zoltan" groove, and is helpful as it's slower, and doesn't go back and forth between the Latin groove and swing section like "Zoltan" does, so you have almost 9 minutes of constant groove to work with.

The whole album is absolutely killer.  I generally advocate buying CDs, but if you're in a crunch for space, or trying to save a few bucks you can get it on iTunes for only $5 and it comes with an extended digital booklet with a lot of nice stuff in it. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


TDB is officially one year old today!  Many thanks to all of you who are reading, commenting, requesting PDFs, etc.  We're not going anywhere any time soon, so keep coming to visit and keep interacting with us.  We love hearing from you!

Please help support the blog by subscribing and sharing your favorite posts on social media, with your students, and fellow drummers.  Thanks for your help!


Monday, January 05, 2015

Weekly Wisdom

I love Turner Classic Movies.  It's often on during my couch practice.  I also really like Judy Garland.  Seemed like a fitting WW to start off the new year.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Basic Paradiddle Combinations

Happy New Year, faithful TDB readers!  Here's a simple little exercise to help you shake the dust off and ease back into your regular practice routine now that the holidays are over.

In addition to my regular, focused practice, I often spend some time in the evening doing some fundamental hand work on the pad while I'm watching a little TV before bed.  I generally don't read any etudes or exercises, or even open a book during this "practice".  Rather, I just keep my hands moving; repping rudiments, long rolls, etc.  While I often use a metronome, there are two things that I do differently with it in this evening practice:

1.  I turn the metronome volume down VERY low.  This serves two purposes.  Most importantly, I can hear the TV.  Secondly, I find it helps me to internalize tempos and feel the time rather than follow it.

2.  I almost never change the tempo.  I simply turn it on and let it go so that I spend a lot of time with one tempo and really internalize it.

Because of #2, I tend to do a lot of metric modulation.  This allows me to work different tempos without changing the metronome, and also build confidence in implied times.

Below is an exercise I like to play a lot during these couch practice sessions.  It employs combinations of paradiddles, and their three inversions, applied to a very basic metric modulation.  It's simply a bar of 16th notes followed by a bar of sextuplets, where said sextuplets are played in groupings of four notes.

Give them a try while you watch all the remaining bowl games.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Groove Transcription - Roger Hawkins, "Back Door Santa"

As this is TDB’s first Christmas, I thought it only right to present a festive post.

We all know and love this Yuletide classic. 

But many aren’t familiar with the history behind it.  The opening groove and horn line is a sample from a Clarence Carter record called “Back Door Santa”.

In typical Carter form the lyrics are a little on the raunchy side and don’t really have much to do with Christmas, but the important thing here is the drummer, who happens to be none other than the great Roger Hawkins.

Hawkins is one of the original members of The Swampers - better known simply as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section - one of the most successful and recognizable rhythm sections of all time.  He has appeared on many hundreds of recordings including Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and “Chain of Fools”, The Staple Singers “I’ll Take You There”, Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”, and Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock & Roll”.

Here’s the intro and a practice loop to “Back Door Santa”, as well as the breakdown for your holiday practice session.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Dig This - Pat Martino Trio live at Lotos Jazz Festival

A couple years back I had the great pleasure of seeing this trio up close and personal at Ronnie Scott's in London.  

Prior to the show I hadn't actually spent much time listening to Martino's work.  I was mostly familiar with his illness and remarkable recovery story.  Martino suffered a brain aneurysm in 1980, and after two brain surgeries was left with almost no recollection of his family, friends, or who he was, let alone how to play the guitar.  He rebuilt his career from the ground up, and learned how to play again by listening to his own records.

I had some friends coming to visit me in London, and they wanted to see a show at Ronnie's, so I figured, cool, why not check out Pat Martino?  That night ended up being one of those nights where you don't even notice the crowd around you, the waitress walking by, or the fact that your drink has gotten completed watered down.  I simply sat mesmerized and enjoyed the hell out of this SWINGIN' trio.

With Martino were Pat Bianchi on the B3 and Carmen Intorre on the drums.  Pat Bianchi came dangerously close to stealing the whole show.  His left hand alone was better than many bass players, all while playing intense solo lines with his right.  I'm surprised we don't see more of this guy, to be honest.

On the drums, Carmen Intorre wasn't particularly unique or inventive, but he swung his ass off.  Carmen has obviously done his homework.  Besides have a killer feel that locked in beautifully with Bianchi's bass lines, his solo vocabulary was classic.  Nothing all that flashy, but never for a second could the time not be felt, which is more than we can say for a lot of players today.

So, enjoy.  I'm sure there'll be some transcriptions coming from this in the future as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Groove Transcriptions - Kendrick Scott, "The Lost and Found"

I'm back!  We had an absolute blast in Korea and China, and now I'm back State side through the holidays, which should afford me the time to finish up a number of projects I've got in the works.

On this trip, my pianist, singer, and partner in crime, Joy Ellis brought along a Gretchen Parlato album from 2011 called "The Lost and Found".  While I was previously familiar with Gretchen, I had yet to hear this album.  It quickly became the soundtrack of the trip.

Upon first listen, not knowing who was drumming, I guessed Gregory Hutchinson, or possibly Damion Reed.  Somewhat to my surprise it turned out to be Kendrick Scott.  My surprise was due to the amount of patience and control he displays on the record.  Kendrick is an absolute monster, but I've seen him in person and in videos before and in the live setting he tends to be much busier, and, dare I say, overplay.  But here with Gretchen he's a groove machine, while still having some opportunities to let the reins out and open up.

Although he's very much in control, Scott does remain busy, but in a tasteful way.  There are grooves on this record that many of us mere mortals would throw a backbeat on and be done with that Kendrick liberally spices with subtle inflection.  He also seems to have a way of taking a 4/4 groove and almost giving the impression that it is in an odd time signature.

Check out a few of the grooves:

E-mail if you'd like a PDF, and be sure to check out the record.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Dig This - The Bill Evans Trio on Jazz 625

As predicted, I haven’t had much chance to get any writing done while I’ve been here in Asia.  I have, however, got a few projects started that you should hopefully see in the coming weeks, one of which being a series of Larry Bunker transcriptions from this video.

I’ve been watching it a lot on my iPod while I’ve been away, and have found it really inspiring.  Among the many drummers that worked with Bill Evans (check out the cool timeline put together by a Dutch fellow named Rob Rijneke), I feel as though Larry Bunker is widely under-appreciated, probably due to all the attention and emphasis placed on Paul Motian and Joe LaBarbera.

I’ll be back home in a little over a week and will be getting back into posting on a regular basis, but until then dig on this video and wait patiently for the transcriptions and more information about Larry Bunker.