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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Transcription - Jack DeJohnette, "One Note Samba"

Anymore, the seats on planes are so close together that you can’t even open a laptop far enough to see the screen.  Luckily for me, I had an empty seat next to me on the plane to Tokyo and was able to stretch out and get a little work done.

This album has special meaning to me.  It’s the first jazz record that I clearly remember blowing my mind.  And I mean to bits.  You may remember this story from a previous post.  As a young kid who was pretty good at the drums, but not quite understanding the breadth of the listening aspect, I had a teacher who started laying all kinds of records on me.  Each week he would give me a list of albums to check out, and one of the first ones I picked up (from Columbia House, thank you very much) was Eliane Elias Plays Jobim.  The second I hit play on this record I thought, “What the hell is happening?!”

DeJohnette, and the whole band, really, find the perfect blend of traditional samba with a modern jazz or ECM vibe.  There’s a subtle feeling of the samba swing and a definite emphasis on “e” and “a”, as well as syncopated phrases reminiscent of many Brazilian rhythms but without being overly idiomatic.

One of my favorite things about the playing on this whole record, and in much of Jack D’s stuff in general, is the connection between his limbs.  No one limb is carrying the groove while the others comp.  Rather, the time, feel, and comping come equally from all four limbs at the exact same time, which is what initially blew me away about it, and still does for that matter.

There is a lot of great practice material in here for developing your own sound, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to take the individual limbs apart as they are so connected, and each voice really relies on the other.  Instead, think of each measure as an exercise in itself.  Take the ones that you find particularly tasty and loop them until they’re comfortable.  Swap them around in different orders.  Mix part of one bar with part of another.  Once you’re comfortable with a handful of them, try to weaving in your own ideas.

The transcription starts at the pickup to the first chorus of piano solo.  Around 1:06.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

On the road again

Well, gang, in less than 24 hours I'll be on my way to Asia with my group The Georgetown Trio.  I'm flying from Pittsburgh to Hiroshima, Japan, and from there we'll be visiting 3 cities in Korea, 4 cities in China, and finally Hong Kong before heading home.

I'm going to try to finish some projects I've been working on during the travel time, but with gigs most nights, sight seeing, and eating killer food I'm not making any promises.  If nothing else I'll post some pictures from the road.

In the meantime, look over to the right hand side of your screen and dig through the archives for some posts you may have missed.  Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like any PDFs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Wisdom

"There's always the danger of sounding inhuman.  You're not obliged to take a breath before you do something.  Wind players are obliged to be human, they have periods, questions marks, exclamation marks, phrases.  But there's always the danger, with people who play piano, percussion, or string instruments, of not creating phrases that speak out to people."
- Max Roach 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Philly Joe Jones - "Tadd's Delight"

We all love Philly Joe's Wilcoxon inspired soloing, but some of the greatest lessons I learned from listening to him over the years were not about soloing, but comping.

Beyond general vocabulary one of the best things I learned from listening to Jones was not what to play, but what NOT to play.  We all go through Syncopation, The Art of Bop Drumming books, and other such resources to practice our comping skills, and early in our training and development the temptation is there to stretch out and try all of these new ideas at once.  It's very easy to overdo.

The most obvious way to learn how to comp tastefully is listening and playing along with records.  For me, playing along with classic Philly Joe records was a great way to learn comping vocabulary.  But after awhile I noticed an interesting problem that I hadn't anticipated.  What I was actually doing was reacting to what I was hearing, which left me playing everything a beat or two behind Philly Joe.  He would play beat 1 and I would play beat 3.  He played the "and" of 2 and I'd play the "and" of 4.  Many people call this "Mickey Mousing", which is common among younger players.  So to combat this I began transcribing the comping patterns.

Here, I've transcribed Philly Joe's playing behind Sonny Clark's entire piano solo on "Tadd's Delight".  First, notice the ride pattern.  Save a few exceptions it does not change.  There are certain types of music where the ride cymbal should have a lot of variation, and that music certainly deserves our attention, but far too often I see younger drummers playing wildly busy ride cymbal patterns where they just don't belong, stylistically.  In this writer's opinion, this is of great detriment to the groove, at least in this style of music.  I also don't get the impression that these younger drummers are playing busy ride cymbal patterns because it's what they really want to play, but rather, they're playing it because they haven't put the time into learning how to comp with a steady ride cymbal pattern.

Next, let's look at the comping pattern itself.  Another common mistake younger players make is to get too busy and too loud far too quickly as a solo builds.  I like to think of a pot of water on the stove.  First there are a few tiny bubbles.  As the heat stays under it the water begins to steam and simmer.  Eventually you get a steady, rolling boil.  But what happens if we leave the heat under the pot, or turn it up more?  It's going to boil over and burn you or make a mess.  It's that rolling boil that we want to maintain, and we need to take our time getting there.  I remember Wynton talking about Miles and the best jazz having a "sustained intensity".  That's what we're after.

One of the great advantages of writing out comping patterns is that it gives us a visual representation of the shape of the music.  With the idea of gradual increase to sustained intensity in mind, take a look at the chart.  Before we even hear a note, we can see this slow, controlled burn.  I've written one chorus per page to help highlight this.  If you just look at the snare drum you notice that with each passing chorus the phrases get slightly longer, busier, and closer together.  Emphasis on slightly.

You should also notice, that Jones isn't wildly improvising all over the place.  In fact, we see a select few phrases with slight variations played over, and over and over again.

They may get a little louder, he may start playing them closer together, and even connecting them, but for the most part it is the same handful of ideas.  And the comping never really gets any more "complex" that than.  That isn't to say that what Philly Joe is playing is easy, but notice that there are no toms, no rolls, no bashing of the cymbals, no crazy, over the bar line phrases.  Just a handful of ideas, tastefully placed and worked around one another while keeping strong, steady TIME.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Transcription - Edison Machado, "Meu Fraco É Café Forte"

Edison Machado is one of those figures of jazz folklore to whom we owe a lot and don't know enough about.  There aren't many pictures or video of him.  Many of the records he played on are lost, and he often times wasn't credited for his work.  He is responsible for a lot of Brazilian music as we know it despite the fact that many people are much more familiar with the names Milton Banana and Paulinho Braga.

Legend has it that he was the first drummer ever to play samba on the drum set.  Apparently a broken drum head in the middle of a tune led him to jump on cymbals and go to town.  While this may be romanticized a bit, it is widely accepted that he was instrumental in the development of the drum set samba, and therefore, the entire bossa nova movement, having played on many of the first bossa nova records; those of Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, Stan Getz, Sergio Mendes, Elis Regina, Edu Lobo, and so on.

At one point Machado lived in Europe before spending the final 14 years of his life in New York.  He died aged only 56, and practically forgotten.  There is, however, a Ron Carter album called Patrão which features Edison on one tune during his New York days.  The album also features Chet Baker, Naná Vasconcellos, and Kenny Barron.

For now, though, I'm more interested in his Brazil period.  Machado played in a trio with pianist Dom Salvador, and bassist Sérgio Barroso called Rio 65 Trio (I guess it was hip back then to have numbers in your band name).  The trio also released an album under the name "Salvador Trio", presumably led by Dom, and served as Elis Regina's band for a time.  As a side note, Dom Salvador is alive and well in New York City and plays 3 nights a week at the River Café in Brooklyn.

Checkout Machado's playing over the first chorus of Dom's piano solo on "Meu Fraco É Café Forte".  It's really quite a different vibe to your Milton Banana's and your Paulo Braga's.  I find Edison to have a particularly raw, bombastic feel, while still grooving really hard.  Sort of like a Brazilian Elvin Jones.  Check out the way he blows through some of these phrases.  He pushes on them so hard that they're practically out of time, and then WHAM!, right back in.  I've noticed Toninho Pinheiro do that kind of thing as well on the Som Três records.  Edison also seems to be more upbeat oriented than players like Milton Banana.  Of course samba in general has that underlying "e" "a" feel but Machado seems to really lay heavy on these, playing a lot of hands together stuff with a Teleco Teco sort of feel.  He even does this at medium/medium up tempos where Milton Banana would have a tendency to ride.  Also, I really don't think there's a steady bass drum pattern in there.  I EQ'ed this track to death looking for some sign of it beyond the punctuations I have notated.  At this speed and with the bassist thumping away I'm guessing he just went with hands and hats.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dig This - Sting, "Ten Summoner's Tales"

This album was one of my earliest influences as a drumset player.  I was just transitioning from rudiments on a snare drum to a full set when this album was released.  My teacher at the time was a rock guy who was all about Vinnie Colaiuta.  I wanted to learn Guns 'n' Roses and Pearl Jam tunes.  So we used to take turns.  He would help me work on a tune that I chose, then he'd choose a tune.  The very first tune he picked for me was "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You".  It was the first time I was forced to think about the form of a tune and what that meant; how I could help to shape it with the musical choices I made.  It was also the first time I really learned to listened for subtlety in music.  Not every note should be the same volume.  Where should I place the hi-hat lifts and why?  What happens if you leave them out for a verse? (check out the 3rd verse)  These were the kind of revelations that started my obsession with the drumset.

Admittedly, at the time, I only had "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" on a blank tape that my teacher had given me.  It wasn't until I got into college and went on a big Vinnie kick that I checked out Ten Summoner's Tales in it's entirety and was further blown away.  It definitely goes in the catalogue as one of my favorite albums of all time.  A buddy of mine had this DVD, and we used to sit around watching this while participating in other college-like activities.  Recently, one of the gang nostalgically posted this on facebook, so I thought I'd share with all of you.  Enjoy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Modern Drummer - October (and September 2014)

I failed to tell everyone that part 3 of my series on samba drumming for Modern Drummer was out in the September issue.  Hopefully you saw it, because it's no longer on newsstands.  You can still order it online if you missed it.

In addition, part 4 of the series is out now in the October issue.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Transcription - Jarle Vespestad, "Blessed Feet"

I've become a pretty big fan of the drumming of Norway's Jarle Vespestad.  Unfortunately, short of his work with Tord Gustavsen and a couple of other projects, I really don't know anything about him, and his internet presence is lacking.

But I've been wanting to post this intro to the Tord Gustavsen piece "Blessed Feet" as it is a perfect example of the ECM sound.

You'll notice in measures 1, 3, and 7 that there are x note heads on the snare drum line where a rim click is usually notated.  I'm pretty sure these aren't rim clicks, but I can't really tell you what they are.  Vespestad is a master of the extremely delicate, and these notes are so light that unless you're paying close attention you might not even notice them.  It sounds to me like it could be the rod of his hi-hat, or maybe the snare drum rim with the tip of the stick.

Leave me a comment below if you think you know what that sound might be.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Groove Transcription - Ernie Isley, "Footsteps in the Dark"

I can't tell you how many drummers I've heard in wedding bands, on cruise ships, etc. play this tune wrong; pretty much all of them.  So, I would be remiss as your faithful drum blogger not to shine light on this egregious error.

It'll take you 2 minutes to get it under your hands, and probably a little longer to make it feel good.  Then you can show the world that you actually took the time to listen to the tunes you're playing ahead of time rather than coming out with the same jive-ass groove that you played on that Spinners tune in the first set.

It's generally the verse that is played wrong, but while we're here, check out the chorus as well:

For those of you that complain of boredom in the aforementioned wedding gigs, or other performances of the like - which, admittedly, I have been guilty of myself - learning to play these grooves the way they were written will not only beat the boredom, but will also make your band sound better, and drastically expand your own drumming vocabulary.  So get on it, and you will definitely have a "good day" *snigger*.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Solo Transcription - Philly Joe Jones, "Minority"

If I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick a favorite jazz drummer it would have to be Philly Joe Jones.  And apparently I'm not alone.  Bill Evans expressed on more than one occasion that he considered Philly Joe to be "the ultimate jazz drummer", and his "all-time favorite…"

Why, then, he didn't hire him more often, I'm not really sure, but at least we have Everybody Digs Bill Evans.  This is Evans' second album as a leader, recorded shortly after he left Mile Davis' group, and before he returned to record Kind of Blue.

Many critics argue that Evans hadn't quite reached his full musical potential when he recorded this album.  True as that may be, I feel that this is the first time Bill Evans really sounds like Bill Evans.  Maybe it's the block chord voicings, or maybe just a lot happened in the two years between New Jazz Conceptions and Everybody Digs Bill Evans, but for me this is the first time that Evans playing screams "I'm Bill freakin' Evans!"

It could also have something to do with the sidemen.  Granted, Paul Motian played on Evans' debut release, but they hadn't yet teamed up with Scott LaFaro to create the trio that would turn Evans into a jazz superstar.  On Everybody Digs Bill Evans we hear Philly Joe teaming up with Sam Jones.  The two were playing together on a number of different projects around the same time, and obviously knew each other as musicians quite well.  Also, Evans and Philly Joe had become close friends while they worked together in Miles' group.  That's one of the things that makes this record so great for me, personally; the Evans/Philly Joe combo.  Besides the fact that Philly Joe is my favorite jazz drummer, and Evans one of my favorite pianists, the two have a very obvious chemistry.

The opening track, "Minority", has Philly Joe sounding particularly Philly Joe.  Nothing too flashy but taste and style (and Wilcoxon) oozing from every note.  Check out some of the Philly Joe-isms in the last two bars of the first section, the third full bar of the third section, and the first two bars of line 3, page 2. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"The Low End Theory" Exercise Routine

Lately I've been doing my snare drum/practice pad work along to records rather than with a metronome.  If nothing else, it's simply more entertaining than listening to the incessant beeping or clicking of a metronome.  But the advantages of practicing this way go far beyond beating boredom.

For starters, I find that playing along to music really keeps me focused.  When playing exercises - let’s say Stick Control - to a metronome I generally either count bars, or often times use a stop watch, running the exercise for a set amount of time before moving on.  With the music on I can ignore bar counting, or clock watching and just focus on my hands.  When the song is over, new exercise.

I also feel that practicing to music adds a certain subtlety to your playing.  A metronome (which I’m not discounting, by the way) is a blank canvas.  It’s only about tempo.  How fast, or slow, can you play Exercise A?  When playing to a record you’re practically forced to find some sort of pocket.  Even if you’re just playing something as simple as paradiddles, if you’re playing them to a groove you’re going to naturally add nuance to your playing to get inside said groove whether you realize it or not.

Furthermore - and this is my favorite thing about it - practicing this way kills two birds with one stone.  I don't know about any of you out there, but I feel as though I never can listen to as much music as I’d like.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.  There are plenty of great old records that I haven't yet listened to, and tons of exciting new albums being released all the time.  It’s impossible to keep up with it all.  If I’m playing along to a record I’m not only practicing, but also enjoying the record that I’m playing along with.

There’s no formula to this.  You can run pretty much anything along to whatever record you like; rudiments, Stick Control, Wilcoxon, whatever.  What I often like to do, however, is write a routine to a whole album; one exercise per song.

Recently I wrote an exercise routine to A Tribe Called Quest’s, The Low End Theory.  I tried to get a little bit of everything in there, as far as rudiments go.  There are single and double strokes, diddles, ruffs, drags, flams, etc.  I also attempted to get as many specific rudiments in there as I could without simply playing each rudiment one after another.  For the most part the difficulty increases as the album goes on and the player gets warmed up, although there are a few more relaxed patterns spaced through the routine as a breather.  I didn’t overly overly concern myself with trying to conform these exercises to the grooves, although there are a few places where I tried to emphasize the backbeat, write the accents to the bass line, etc.

I’ve been playing this one for about a week now, and really enjoying it.  The tempos on the album are perfect for these types of exercises, and the album is just the right length.  Try to play the whole thing through without stopping.

And don’t forget to enjoy the record!  If you haven’t heard it before (shame on you), it’s definitely worth picking up.  I could easily write a whole post on the album alone, but let's save that for another day.  In the meantime, enjoy, and please leave me a comment letting me know how it's working for you.  Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jojo Mayer's "Street Beats"

If you haven't yet checked out Jojo Mayer's Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer DVD, do yourself a favor and pick it up.  A couple of years ago I decided to do some heavy duty maintenance work, completely reevaluating the ergonomics of my setup and going back to square one with some technique things.  I picked up this DVD and watched the whole thing 3 or 4 time before I even picked up the sticks, then went back through it bit by bit as I practiced.  The change in my hands was incredible.  I have a more in-depth post about ergonomics and technique with some more information about my experience with this DVD coming soon, but todays post is about the added bonus that came with these discs.  In between a lot of the lessons there are some killer grooves and solos.  You've probably seen the majority of them all over YouTube.

I've jotted down a few of my favorites here, and made some loops for you to play along to.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Solo Transcription - Tony Williams, "Seven Steps to Heaven"

I was pondering what to post today and realized that I haven't done any classics lately.  So here you go.  Tony.  Seven Steps.  Not much else to say.

Solo starts around 2:30

Monday, August 04, 2014

Weekly Wisdom

"There's a way of playing safe, there's a way of using tricks and there's the way I like to play, which is dangerously, where you're going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven't created before"
-Dave Brubeck

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Modern Drummer - August 2014

I was having a pretty bad day today until the mail man came with a check from Modern Drummer Magazine, which means that the second part of my series on applying batucada style drumming to the drum set is in the August issue.

Check it out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Developing the samba suingue

There is a common, and really annoying, misconception that all "Latin" music (whatever that means) is felt in the same way.  How many times have you been on a  gig and heard someone say, "Is this swing or Latin?"  This is a pretty ignorant approach.  When we say "Latin", we're really referring to Latin America, which can mean anything from Cuba to Mexico to Brazil to Argentina.  Certainly the music of these countries aren't all going to sound or feel the same.  I suppose in a jazz setting, where we're often playing Americanized versions of these styles it's somewhat acceptable to generalize the feel a little bit, but if you really want to play the music from the aforementioned - or any other - Latin American countries it's important that you do your homework and figure out the feel.

So today I have a practice loop for you to help you get a handle on the Brazilian samba feel.  This is a very unique feel that us gringoes often have a hard time executing.  I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to notate this feel, and give it fancy names.  For me, this sort of defeats the purpose.  Did you spend hours trying to notate Art Blakey's feel?  Of course not.  You put on your head phones and played along until you FELT it.  Learning the Brazilian feel is no different than learning to swing.  The Brazilians even use the same term, swing, or suingue.

I found a video on YouTube of Mestre (meaning director) Odilon playing a basic samba swing feel on a caixa, which is a Brazilian snare drum.  Mestre Odilon is one of the best known and respected bateria directors in Brazil.  If anyone is going to swing hard, it's him.  Take your favorite samba patterns and play along with this loop.

If you aren't very familiar with the rhythms of the samba, it's OK.  Here's a little chart to get you started.  These are some of the most common patterns that you're going to see in a jazz, or drumset, samba.

Now, granted, there are quite a few differences between the jazz samba and the batucada style of Mestre Odilon and the samba schools in Rio, but this will still most certainly help to develop your feel.  Besides, the early greats who first developed the jazz samba, like Edison Machado, Milton Banana, Toninho Pinheiro, Paulinho Braga, and José Roberto Sarsano, were simply trying to capture the batucada feel on the drumset.  Be sure to check out those players, as well as today's greats like Tutty Moreno, Marcio Bahia, Edu Ribeiro, and Kiko Freitas.

It's definitely also worth digging into the batucada style of samba, but that's a whole other beast in and of itself.  I've written a series of articles on applying batucada patterns to the drumset, which I think/hope Modern Drummer is going to be printing periodically in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for that.  In the mean time check out some of my other posts on samba, or Brasil.  I've also got a few transcriptions in the works which will be posted here soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Groove Transcription - "Jabo" Starks, "Escape-ism (Part 1)"

I've been practicing with loops a lot lately.  Soon I'll be doing a post about some great tools and tips for using loops to practice, but I figured I'd keep providing some for you in the meantime.

While listening to SiriusXM in the car the other day, this killer James Brown tune from the 1971 album Hot Pants came on.  It features the drumming of the great John "Jabo" Starks.  With the exception of one fill there is zero variation in the groove.  Jabo holds it down for the full 3:20.  Actually it's much longer, as this is just a cut from a much longer take.

If you would like to download a copy of this file, please send me an e-mail


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Elis Regina drummer mystery solved!

Last week a drummer from Brazil who reads the blog got in touch with me about the Marcio Bahia transcription I did recently.  We met on Skype and, with some assistance from Google Translate (I’m still working on my Portuguese), talked about Brazilian drumming, and shared some ideas.

One of things that I asked him was if he knew who this drummer was.

It's been driving me nuts.  When I first discovered Elis Regina and was scouring YouTube for all the videos I could find this was one of the first ones I stumbled upon, and it’s still one of my favorites, but I never could figure out who the drummer was.  Shot in 1968, it features a 23 year old Regina singing the Edu Lobo tune “Upa Neguinho” at the Palais de Festivals in Cannes, France.  It was apparently her big break in Europe.  A few months later she became the first Brazilian singer to perform at Paris’ Olympia Theater.

The drummer’s name is José Roberto Sarsano.  If your Portuguese is better than mine, you can hear him talk about this famous performance here:

The other musicians in the video are pianist Amilson Godoy, and bassist Jurandyr Meirelles.  Besides serving as Elis’ rhythm section, they were also a trio in their own right called Bossa Jazz Trio.

Why his name isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Edison Machado, Milton Banana, Toninho Pinheiro, and Paulinho Braga, I’m not really sure, but I think his playing is fantastic, and once I can lay my hands on some more recordings there will be some transcriptions here for you.

Many thanks to Rafael Alexandre for his help!