Monday, May 10, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises in Four-Note Groupings ala Bill Stewart

Last week I received more e-mails requesting PDFs than I have in a long time.  It seems many of you really enjoyed the various Elvin inspired exercises.  I've been enjoying them too, so I kept going with them.

This time around I've taken the quarter note triplet exercises, and experimented with playing groupings of four notes.  Because there are only three notes in the bar, the four note phrases will roll over the barline, and resolves tidily after four bars.

Starting on the beat looks like this:

While starting on the second note looks like this:

Bill Stewart does this quite often to great effect.  You can see one example of it here on the blog in the transcription of "Metamorphosis".

Adding this variable to the mix means that the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of voicings, but I came up with three simple ideas to get you started.

Pick any two voices, and play two of each: SSBB; HHSS; BBHH, etc.

Pick any two voices and treat one as A and one as B: BBSB; SSBS; HHSH, etc.

Use all three voices and treat one as A, one as B, and one as C: BSBH; SHSB; HBHS, etc.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises

If you've listened to any Elvin at all you'll almost surely know that, in addition to the sounds we explored in the last two posts, quarter note triplets are a big part of Elvin's sound.

Because we'll still be playing three notes for every two beats, we can use all the same voicing options we did on the two inner triplet exercises.  If we start on the beat, then there's really only one note different in the whole thing: the first non-ride cymbal note will be on the downbeat, rather than the second partial of the triplet.

I've written it out again, however, with both the two and three voice versions on one page because A) it's easier to visualize if you're new to this, and B) to emphasize the placement of these notes, as it's far too common that this: 

Gets played like this: 

And for a whole other set of options we can leave the ride cymbal alone, but shift all of the comping notes an 8th note later.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplet Exercise, part 2

Continuing on with the Elvin exercise we looked at on Monday, we can also play just two voices per cycle through the ride cymbal pattern.  Remember, we're simply using our left hand and both feet to fill in the triplets not being played on the ride.  By using only two voices each time we're left with doubles on each voice.

I don't feel this is necessarily any more difficult or any easier than the three-voice interpretation, but rather is just a different sound, and certainly gives us a lot more variations to experiment with.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplets Exercise

I've been re-visiting a lot of Elvin lately as I have a student who is just beginning his deep dive into the material.

In gathering some material to send over to him I was reminded of this excellent post by Canadian drummer, Jon McCaslin on his long-running "Four on the Floor" blog.  The whole thing is definitely worth a read, but today I want to focus on one exercise in particular that Jon saw Elvin demonstrate at a clinic in the late '90s.

The concept is fairly simple.  You'll play a stock ride cymbal pattern in your right hand, and fill in the remaining triplets on another voice.

Each time through the two-beat ride cymbal pattern we have three notes to play and three limbs to play them with, so start by playing each limb once.  That gives us six different combinations to work with.

This wasn't mentioned in the original post, but by playing a double stroke on the snare drum we end up with further Elvin-esque ideas.

Drop me an e-mail if you'd like of PDF of this worksheet, and be sure to check out "Four on the Floor".  There is a ton of great stuff over there.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Flam Accent/Swiss Army Triplet/Single Flammed Mill Study

 How's that for a nice, concise name?

I've been working these three rudiments on the set with a student of mine.  Some came easier than others and flowing between them was one of the rough spots.

When this happens either with my students or myself I'm a big fan of creating simple exercises that can be played on the pad or even just on your lap.  If you've checked out any of the other studies I've posted here before, then you'll know that I also like to make them naturally flip to be practiced off both hands.

So I quickly jotted down this little study that incorporates all three and naturally switches hands.  Try repeating it with drags added as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bira Presidente Trademark Language

I recently came upon this video on pandeiro legend, Bira Presidente, talking about his playing style.  At the 1:15 mark Bira demonstrates the same trademark sounds that we looked at awhile back in the transcription of him playing "Vai Lá, Vai Lá" with Fundo de Quintal.

Here's the original post of the transcription, and notation of the phrases in the video below.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Latin Bell Patterns with Syncopation

Allison Miller has been posting some great practice ideas over on her Instagram page, and this one popped up the other day.  Play any common Latin Jazz rhythm with your feet and left hand, like so....

...and then read page 38 of Syncopation with your right hand on the ride cymbal.  As Allison points out, this really helps to free up your right hand and allow you to break away from common patterns.

This is the same general concept as the Kiko Freitas samba ideas we looked at recently where the feet and left hand play common samba rhythms and the right hand improvises in a telecoteco style.  Both of these are a really nice way to break out of the habit of thinking about ostinatos in your right hand and improvising with the left.

If page 38 is going by to quickly for you, don't forget that pages 34-37 are great to give yourself a little more time and repetition to get used to this, or any, concept.  I often do this myself and recommend it to my students as well.

As you get more comfortable, experiment with different sounds on the ride.  Play the bell, shoulder it a bit, etc.  Or, if you prefer a bit more structure in the practice room, try this....

Play everything on the bell.  But whenever there are two or more 8th notes in a row, start on the bow, and only play the last note of the group on the bell.  So the first two lines become this...

And if you have checked out Allison Miller yet, definitely do so.  Allison is a fellow WVU grad, though she finished a few years before I got there.  I've been to a few of her masterclasses, and her educational style and ideas are just as bad ass as her playing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Transcription - Charlie Smith, "Hot House"

This is one I've been meaning to do for a long time.  Years, really.  I remember the first time I saw this video in college, and was struck by a few things.  For one, I don't know that I had seen a left-handed jazz drummer before then.  Also, the band seemed like an unlikely bunch.  For one, I was surprised not to see Max Roach on drums, and two the bassist, who is named Sandy Block, seemed kind of old for that crew.  And the pianist is Dick Hyman, who was also a host of the television show that this performance was on.

The drummer is Charlie Smith.  His name isn't thrown around as often as the likes of Kenny Clarke or Max Roack, but he had an enviable career working for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, and more.

I love Charlie's feel on this tune, and the minimal set up with the jumbo bass drum.