Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dig This - Rational Funk with Dave King

Clearly I’m not paying enough attention, because it was only a couple weeks ago that I first discovered Rational Funk with Dave King.

King is one of my favorite modern drummers, so I was naturally quite excited when I saw he had a series of instructional videos.  However, hilarity quickly ensued and I realized that this was not your typical drum video.  It’s more of a parody of the myriad of drum videos out there today.  But amidst all the levity there's some great drumming, and through some clever sarcasm, King drops in quite a bit of valuable wisdom.  The whole series is definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

7-stroke roll notation in Wilcoxon

Recently, on the Drummerworld Forum, someone asked a question about the notation of 7-stroke rolls in the Wilcoxon books.  I field this question quite often from my students as well.

Many of the youngsters today are not familiar with the notation style of Wilcoxon.  Most of the rolls, like the 5-stroke and 9-stroke are pretty much self-explanatory.  However, when the 7-stroke comes in it’s a bit different.  The thing to remember is that there is not one set way or rhythm in which to play a 7-stroke roll.  The name simply describes how many strokes are in that roll.

Take Solo No. 26, for example, from The All-American Drummer.  In the first two measures we see a 7-stroke roll on the “&” of beat 2.  In this instance, the skeleton of the roll would actually be played as a 16th note triplet.  In line 3 we again see a 7-stroke roll notated on the “&s” of 1 and 2, but here they have a ruff in front of them.  When you see this, the ruff, which falls on the 16th note before the 8th note, is treated as part of the 7-stroke roll.  Is it 2 of the 7 strokes.  This changes the rhythmic makeup of the roll.  It now becomes what is called a “tap seven”, which is a single stroke on the downbeat, followed by double strokes on “e, &, a”.  Here is each type of 7-stroke roll with its modern notation equivalent.

Stylistically, the triplet-based 7-stroke that starts on the “&” is played behind the beat, almost out of time.  There is a small breath before it is played, and the rhythm itself it stretched.  There are quite a few examples of this interpretation here:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Groove Transcription - Kenny Washington, "America"

If you're anything like me, you have a "go-to" groove.  A tune is called with a certain feel, and if you're not feeling particularly creative that night you have a bag of grooves you can reach into to pull something out.  But occasionally these can put us in a rut where we feel stuck always playing the same exact thing.  When this happens to me I find that even the smallest changes can spark new inspiration.  So generally I'll head straight to the record shelf and find something to transcribe.

Recently I was looking for a little something different to do with an Afro-Cuban 12/8 or Bembe feel.  What I ended up pulling out was Bill Charlap's album Somewhere with Kenny Washington on drums.  Kenny's groove on "America" is only a couple of notes different than my own "go-to", but those few notes made quite a bit of difference, and I got some great ideas for fills and minor variations.

Rather than transcribe the whole tune to leave you to sift through it, I've written this out like a worksheet.  At the top is the basic groove (Kenny's "go-to", if you will) and below are some variations and fills that he plays throughout the tune.  There are also a couple of practice loops there for you as well.  One with bass and one without.

E-mail me for a PDF

I know I always say this, but if you haven't checked out this album, or the Bill Charlap trio period you need to get on it.  These three are the epitome of the classic jazz piano trio.  They don't make 'em like this anymore.