Saturday, March 08, 2014

Groove Transcription - Billy Higgins, "The Sidewinder"

I hate this song.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m into Lee Morgan.  I love Billy Higgins.  But there’s just something about this tune.  Maybe I’ve just heard it being played really horribly one too many times at college jam sessions.  Calling "Sidewinder" just seems like calling "Take Five".  Who does that?

But you gotta’ know how to play it.  Because, unfortunately, you’re going to have to.  And the only thing worse that having to play "The Sidewinder" is having it called and not knowing HOW to play it.  I like to think of it as one of those martial arts death punches.  You should know it, and hopefully you’ll never have to use it.

Admittedly, though, it’s a pretty cool groove.  It sits in that funny little spot where it’s not swung as hard as your typical hard bop tune, but it certainly isn’t straight 8th notes either.  And if you play either of these you’re going to sound lame.  I’ve heard people swing it hard, and I’ve heard people play it like a damn bossa.  NO.

The bad news is that there really isn’t any way for me to explain the feel to you.  You’ve just got to listen to it....A LOT, and play along to it.  So that’s why I’ve created this little goodie for you.  It’s kind of my own personal hell.  It’s the groove, looped 50 times (seriously) so you can just play it over and over until you find where exactly those notes fall.

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

Below is a transcription of the groove Higgins plays on the head.  Note that the snare drum part does NOT change.  I think of it as part of the melody, not to be messed with, at least until you get into the solo.  Also note the bass drum.  Listen closely and you’ll notice that it’s not feathered to just be “felt” as is often the case.  If you listen hard you’ll realize that Higgins is actually giving that thing a pretty good thump.  As far as the hi-hat goes, it's really hard to say whether he's playing it on 2 & 4 or not.  I'm going to say that he is.

Oh, and do me a favor.  Show people that you really know the tune by not playing on the first downbeat after the bass intro.!


1 comment:

  1. For such a quick and static beat throughout I think I'll go with just the 6 cymbal strokes. I'm too old for 8 hits. Also I'LL go bass on 1 & 3. The ubiquitous clave on snare sounds good.