Friday, March 22, 2024

Jacob Collier - "Djesse Vol. 4"

Now that it's been released I'm allowed to tell you that I had the great pleasure last year to spend an evening in the studio with Jacob Collier to play a very small part in recording his newest record, Djesse Vol. 4.  No drumming, I'm afraid, but I do appear on two tracks singing backing vocals and doing hand claps.  The vocal track features rhythms from all over the world segued seamlessly from one to the next, as seen in the very cool video at the link below.

Unfortunately, embedding was disabled, but you can still check it out on YouTube:

Monday, March 18, 2024

Groove Transcription - Steve Gadd, "Lenore"

This is one of the first Chick Corea tunes I ever heard.  As a clueless 18-year-old jazz studies major I was told I should check out Chick Corea.  So, I went out and got Verve Jazz Masters 3 - Chick Corea, a greatest hits collection featuring "You're Everything", "Spain", and a number of other Chick classics.  I remember really loving "Lenore", but it wasn't until many years later that I realized how hip the drum grooves were.

In the A section Steve Gadd plays open-handed, with his left hand on the hi-hat, much like he does on "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and other signature grooves of his.

A few times later in the tune he drops his left hand down to the snare on the & of 3, which makes a nice variation.

Now, even the most cursory of searches will show you that I'm not the first person to transcribe or write about this groove, not by a long shot.  But most people seem to focus solely on that first part and fail to talk about how super hip the groove is in the next section.  It's pseudo-linear, with hard-driving accents on the pulse.

Towards the end there's considerably more improvising, but as it builds in density we hear something more like this.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Joel Rothman

Right around Christmas I got a message from the prolific drum book author, Joel Rothman, introducing himself and asking if I'd like to check out some of his books.  I was already familiar with some of Joel's work, and had used his book Basic Drumming back when I first started teaching as a good catch-all book that would cover a lot of topics and last beginner students for a couple of years.  What I didn't know, however, was that not only has Joel been living in London for the last 40 years, but he lives a mere 15 minutes from me.
So, a few weeks ago, Joel invited me to his home and we spent a couple hours talking about drumming, teaching, living in the UK as an American, etc. etc.  And he very kindly gave me a great selection over his more than 100 books.  I'm looking forward to spending some time with them.  I hope work my way through some of them in the coming months and will let you know what I find.

You can find out more about Joel on his website,, and many of his books are available from Hudson Music.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Transcription - Enéas Costa, "Sonho Meu"

Enéas Costa is a real mystery as best as I can tell.  His discography is impressive, having recorded with the likes of Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, and Caetano Veloso. But I've never been able to find out much else about him; where he is/was from, whether he's still alive, nothing.  The only thing I've ever found is one picture which supposedly shows him playing with the great saxophonist J.T. Mereilles, and bassist Luizão Maia, who played with Elis Regina for many years.

But we can certainly hear a lot of him, because his name appears on many an album credit.  In addition to the names above, Costa also did considerable work with Maria Bethânia.  Here he is playing the standard "Sonho Meu", from Bethânia's album Álibi.  This recording also features Gal Costa on vocals, Rosinha de Valença on guitar and cavaquinho, the aforementioned Luizão Maia on bass, and a young Tutty Moreno on percussion.

I've done a traditional note-for-note transcription, but below that is a simplified version, which just shows the comping pattern, which is the real sauce of the phrasing and what we're likely most interested in gleaning from a transcription of this nature.  You can then play along with the recording with brushes, a tamborim, whatever you like, really.

Simplified version:

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Art Blakey with Charlie Parker - "Wahoo"

I was recently turned on to this recording featuring a young Art Blakey playing with Charlie Parker.  This is an era of Blakey I've not been too familiar with until now.  I know he played in fellow Pittsburgher, Billy Eckstine's band and with Fletcher Henderson in the big band era, and did some work with Dizzy Gillespie.  Bit still, when I think of Blakey I (like most people, probably) tend think of the Jazz Messengers, of driving shuffles, and of hard bop leaders like Hank Mobley, Jimmy Smith, and Lee Morgan.  So I find it really interesting to hear him playing in this much earlier bebop style.

The left hand comping, which I've transcribed here is out of sight, but what also struck me was the bass drum.  That's far more than "feathering".  He's thumping that thing pretty hard on all four beats, which I think still carried over a bit from the big band era before it started getting lighter.  I only notated the bass drum when he plays it even harder than the "feathering", or when it feels like part of the larger phrase.  The recording quality is pretty rough, but as far as I can tell he doesn't alter his ride cymbal pattern much.

I also noticed how many three-beat groupings he plays, both in quarter notes....

....and in eight notes....

So, here's all the comping, minus the heads.  Each page is a chorus and is time stamped at the top.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like the PDF.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Brazil again

I was fortunate enough to kick off 2024 with another trip to Brazil along with many of my fellow Brazilian music nerds here in London.

With only a few short weeks to Carnival, Rio was completely abuzz with incredible music and atmosphere.  Whereas on the last trip in 2022 I saw more jazz, this trip afforded me the opportunity to visit some of the samba schools as they prepare for Carnival.

I did have a chance to catch up with some of my favorite drummers, and new friends that I met on the last trip, like Renato Massa, Marcus Thadeu, and Marcio Bahia.

Marcio Bahia

But thanks to some well connected friends I was able to visit some of the oldest, and most respected samba schools in Rio, like....




....and see some technical rehearsals in the Sambódromo.

I also had the great pleasure of seeing master pandeirista, Bira Presidente, at Cacique de Ramos, where Fundo de Quintal was formed.

If, by chance, you're at all interested in seeing more pictures and videos from the trip, you can head over to my Instagram page and see "Brazil trip '24" in my highlighted stories.

Now that I'm back in cold, dark London, I have quite a few posts in the works that I hope to get up here for you soon.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

10 years of "That Drum Blog"

It's hard to believe, but I first posted to this, my own little nerdy corner of the internet, 10 years ago today.  Thank you very much to everyone who has read the blog, and been in touch with questions and comments.  I have enjoyed it immensely.  Some years I post more than others, but regardless, I have no plans of stopping any time soon and hope that 2024 will afford me some more time to transcribe, write, post and share with all of you.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A forró primer, part 2 - Baião

Let’s start the meat of this series with the rhythm of forró that many drummers are familiar with on one form or another, baião.  For most drumset players, baião simply means this groove:

And I wouldn’t even say that that’s wrong per se.  It’s just missing a lot of nuance that makes a baião what it is.  And without that nuance one could also be playing a forró or a xaxado as all three of these styles have this cell in them:

But it’s the way that that cell is articulated, as well as the other percussion and melody parts surrounding it that differentiate the three styles.

In this post I'll be referring to the instruments of forró.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, be sure to check out part 1 of this series.

The zabumba is played with both dead strokes (which mute the head and give a short, staccato sound) and open strokes (which allow the head to ring out).  The placement of the closed and open strokes is part of what differentiates baião, forró and xaxado.  In a baião, the first stroke is muted, while the second is open.

Baião also tends to be driven more by an 8th note subdivision, rather than a 16th note subdivision.  That’s not to say one wouldn’t play 16th notes at all.  But in baião the bacalhau plays mostly 8th notes with less 16th note syncopation.  The most common bacalhau parts are:

Put together, some standard baião interpretations would look like this:

This 8th note subdivision mirrors the melodies which, in baião, are also 8th note heavy and are more relaxed and lyrical.  Baiãos also tend to be played and medium tempos.  Check out Luiz Gonzaga singing “Baião”.  It’s quite legato, and sung almost entirely in 8th notes on the beat at a very reasonable and groovy tempo.

The open sound of the zabumba on the “a” of 1, and the relative lack of variations filling out beat 2 provide the more fluid melodies of baião the space they need to breathe.

I believe it's because of that space that variations and fills in baião are used more sparingly than in other forró styles, but here are some ideas you might come across:

Most of these variations show the bacalhau on the upbeat, but you could easily play the other bacalhau parts above.

To apply this to the drumset we don’t even need to re-write the part.  Simply play the bacalhau part on your snare drum (a cross stick is probably most appropriate), and the low zabumba part on your bass drum.  Given that the closed and open strokes really characterize the different rhythms you may even want to try to imitate this yourself on the bass drum by burying the beater and playing off the head, but it certainly isn’t easy to coordinate at first. 

If you’re able, I would play all four subdivisions on the hi-hat as this most closely mimics the triangle part which is integral to forró grooves:

Most drummers tend to play

with the right hand, presumably out of habit from playing jazz and other styles that rely heavily on that rhythm.  But if the tempo or your current ability won’t allow you to play all four 16th notes, I feel that

captures the essence of the triangle more, especially if you play a small lift on the &, or the e&.

You could also try something I’ve been experimenting with lately, which is playing 1e& on the hi-hat with your right hand, lifting on the &, and snapping the hi-hat shut with your left foot on the “a”, giving you all four subdivisions of the triangle.

Below are all the variations we looked at today, orchestrated for triangle and zabumba.  Drop me and e-mail for a PDF.

In the next part of the series we'll look at the forró rhythm and how it differs to baião.