Developing this feel obviously requires a lot of listening, but I’ve come up with a series of exercises to get you started using a book that many of you have already: John Riley’s The Art of Bop Drumming. Upon first listening to some of these albums many of us would be tempted to reach for Syncopation to work on this style of playing. And there really wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, but I prefer using Riley’s book for two main reasons. 1. The exercises in the Reed book are more dense than in Riley’s. One of the prominent characteristics of the ECM sound is the use of space, and The Art of Bop Drumming gives us the space needed to leave some of those rests, or alternatively, to fill in the gaps with other sounds. 2. The Art of Bop Drumming is less repetitive. While some ECM tunes do have repetitive, groove oriented drumming, more commonly you'll hear playing that has more of a stream of thought feel to it. Almost like a long, but sparse drum solo. The Riley book, when played without the repeats provides those types of long, almost unending phrases.
But each of these ideas works with all of pages 18 and 19. Once you’re comfortable with how each exercise works, try it with any or all of the lines of these two pages.
Example 2 - Using the same idea as Example 1 add the ride cymbal on all of the snare drum notes. Example 2.1 is the same ride cymbal variation we did in Example 1.1.
Both examples 1 and 2 also work well by substituting the bass drum for the snare part.
Example 3 - Read the rhythm on the bass drum and ride cymbal together, again giving each note a quarter note value before playing anything else. After the quarter note value is over play upbeats on the snare drum. In addition, always play the snare drum on the eighth note immediately preceding any bass/ride note.
Example 4 - As we did with Example 2, play Example 3 with the ride cymbal added to all the snare drum notes.
Example 5 - Go back to Example 3 and play the individual snare drum notes with your hi-hat. However, whenever there are two eighth notes in succession, leave them on the snare drum.
In Examples 3, 4, and 5 you can also swap the bass drum and snare drum parts.
The ECM website is extremely well maintained, and is not only updated regularly, but is also completely catalogued, and cross-referenced listing the personnel and background notes on every record. It also features a player where you can sample a lot of the music.
Additionally, there's this crazy site, which appears to have every ECM album ever released in a very window shopping friendly layout, which is also linked to the ECM site.