Friday, February 13, 2015

You Be the Drummer - Nat King Cole Trio, "After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It"

I've recently been getting back into the habit - and encouraging my students to get in the habit - of playing along with drummer-less recordings.  Playing with records is one of the best ways we can learn the idiosyncracies of music that can't be notated or, in some cases, even explained.  And while transcribing, and playing along with, other drummers is a fantastic tool, it can be extremely beneficial to play along with records that have no drummer at all.  When there is no one there to which you are trying to conform you're free to try new ideas and work on developing your own sound.  Sure, if you don't want to hear a drummer you could always just use a metronome, Band in a Box, or a Jamey Aebersold track, but why, when you can mimic the experience of playing with the greats?  Someone who can really teach you the aforementioned idiosyncrasies.

There are, of course, a number of drummer-less groups with varying instrumentation that we can check out, but if this is a new concept to you, I'd start at the beginning with the first great drummer-less trio: that of Nat King Cole.  Nat, along with bassist, Johnny Miller and guitarist, Oscar Moore, don't need no steenking drummer.  These are some of the swingingest recordings of all time.

Here's one to get you started, but I recommend just trying to lay your hands on as much of this stuff as you can.  Even if it's just one of those greatest hits records that you can snag for 3 bucks.

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