Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Groove Transcription - Otis "Candy" Finch, "Let 'em Roll"

Check out this very cool shuffle played by Otis Finch.  It comes from the title track of a Big John Patton record called Let 'em Roll, which, in addition to Otis and Big John features half of the Street of Dreams band with Grant Green and Bobby Hutcherson.

If you remember from the Keith Carlock shuffle videos, he explains that the most important notes to make a shuffle feel right  are the & of 1, 2, and the & of 2.  Here Otis plays those three notes on the hi-hat, snare, and bass drum respectively and moves the constant swinging 8th notes that are often on the snare up to the ride cymbal.

It's a very cool groove, and makes a great shuffle play-along track even if you don't feel like playing Otis' exact orchestration.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Telecoteco-ish phrases from Syncopation

A couple of my students have been working on Allison Miller's Latin bell patterns with Syncopation idea that I posted last year, where we play some sort of constant latin groove with both feet and the left hand and then read "Syncopation Set 2", or page 38 with the right hand.  Be sure to revisit the original post if you're not sure what I'm talking about.

This got me to thinking about how I could apply this to samba and Bossa Nova drumming.  If you remember from some of the posts on samba rhythms, particularly Partido Alto or Telecoteco, the underlying rhythms in samba generally have an "up" side and a "down" side.  The phrase then goes UP, DOWN, DOWN, UP or DOWN, UP, UP, DOWN.  It suddenly struck me that if we take each bar in Syncopation and play beats 1, 2, 3, 4 and then follow it with beats 3, 4, 1, 2 we end up with a similar "up" and "down" pattern.  For example, in "Syncopation Set 2" number one looks like this:

If we play that bar as written, and then immediately follow it with beats 3, 4, 1, 2 we get this:

Now that's looking a lot like a phrase we would expect to see in samba, especially if you think of it as 16th notes in 2/4:

You can now use that rhythm the same way you would any other telecoteco rhythm.  Put it in your left hand behind a hi-hat/ride cymbal ostinato, or put it in your right hand behind a samba groove.  As always, you can reach for the "Jazz Samba Builder", or some of the Kiko Freitas samba ideas.  If a note appears in parenthesis try playing it the first time only and leaving it out each subsequent time it goes by.  It will feel even more like a true samba phrase.

Because some of the examples in Syncopation are already reversed farther down the page we would end up with a lot of repetition.  So I've gone through the four pages of "Syncopation Set 2" and written each example out as 16th notes in 2/4.  Try it out in any of the ways mentioned above.  Send me an e-mail for a PDF.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Oscar Bolão (1954-2022)

Unfortunately, it appears that another one of the greats has left us.  Oscar Bolão, was a fantastic drummer and percussionist who stood out even more so as an educator and historian in Brazilian music.  His book, Batuque é Um Privilégio, is an incredibly rich resource in Brazilian rhythms and music.

I never had the privilege of meeting Oscar, but he always came across as a kind and generous person, and he was always one that I had hoped to have a lesson with one day.

Do check out the book if you have even a passing interest in Brazilian music and I'll work on getting a transcription going soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Dotted Rhythm Coordination

This sheet can be used at any tempo, really, but what I had in mind when I came up with it was the "Uptempo Studies" from John Riley's Beyond Bop Drumming.  Whereas the examples in BBD are all on the beat and designed to clean up unisons, I thought it would be nice to augment that with syncopated rhythms often heard by drummers like Philly Joe, and Jimmy Cobb.

What makes this awkward for some is not necessarily the tempo.  It's the fact that the coordination changes when we reach a certain tempo.  The same way a roll has a "check pattern" or "skeleton", so does our ride cymbal pattern.  When we play a double stroke roll, for example, we hear 32nd notes, but our arms move at the rate of 16th notes.  So, on the ride cymbal at slow and medium tempos our arm is playing on all four beats while our hand and/or fingers control the skip note.  Using the first example on the sheet, that makes the coordination like this:

But when we get to faster tempos we tend to throw the stick on beats 2 and 4, and get the skip note on beats 1 and 3 with rebound and fingers.  That changes the coordination to this:

Not necessarily harder, just different.

So, if you're finding this exercise difficult, try reading it as written while just playing the ride cymbal on beats 2 and 4 along with the hi-hat.  Then add the other notes as you feel comfortable.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Afro-Cuban basics

Here's another back to basics sheet; a survival kit for playing Afro-Cuban music, or generic "Latin Jazz".  

It's a simple modular approach with three patterns for the right hand, three for the left hand, and three for the right foot.  If you can play each of these patterns with each of the others you'll be able to get through a lot of material on your average gig.

This is also a nice way to construct a simple arrangement.  When it comes time to head to a different part of a tune just change one element.  I feel that less experienced players often try to do too much.  The groove is the most important thing here, so keep it simple.  For example, let's say you're playing cascara together with clave, and the first bombo pattern.  When that next section comes up try keeping your right hand and right foot the same, but switching to one of the conga grooves with the left hand.  Often times one change like that does more than we realize and can really lift the tune without have to do much else.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Syncopation in 3/4

Here's a sheet to go with the 3/4 ride and hi-hat patterns from the other day.  Really it's just the phrases from "Syncopation Set 2" in Ted Reed's Syncopation with beats hacked off of it.

Try each of these with different ride and hi-hat combinations from the last sheet.  If you want to go deeper, Todd Bishop at Cruise Ship Drummer! has an entire book dedicated to Syncopation in 3/4.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Basic 3/4 ride and hi-hat combinations

I try not to post too much stuff here on the blog that is already widely available in a million other places, but I recently put this sheet together for a student and figured there was no harm in sharing it with all of you as well.  If nothing else maybe it will serve as a reminder to occasionally revisit the "basics".

I generally try to play through anything I give my students to make sure that A) the sheet is right, and B) I'm not asking them to do anything I haven't shed myself.  And funnily enough, while not difficult, this sheet showed me that there are certain ride and hi-hat combinations that just never made their way into my day-to-day playing.  It's not that I couldn't play them, but they just didn't feel as natural, especially when getting the left hand involved.  So it's been fun putting on Max Roach's Jazz in 3/4 Time and take these for a spin.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Brush Book Joe Morello Never Wrote

We can complain about algorithms all we want, but they often find interesting things for us.  Because of the videos in the last post about Mel Brown playing through Brush Artistry YouTube recommended to me a series of videos by Jon Hazilla, who I'm not familiar with, but apparently teaches at Berklee.

Jon studied with Joe Morello, and later developed his own approach to Master Studies using brushes to develop facility with lateral strokes.

I've been revisiting Master Studies lately myself (with sticks, that is), so I think I'll be giving this a try soon.