Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Developing a Kiko Freitas-style left hand samba ostinato

I've been working a lot with the Kiko Freitas idea that I posted last week, wherein Kiko plays the underlying samba rhythm... his left hand, and teleco teco... his right hand.

Put together it looks like this....

Of course, to work up this particular pattern up one needs only to take it in small chunks and piece it together.  But if we think of this as a concept, rather than just one groove, we can make so much more out of it.

In this idea, our left hand plays an ostinato, essentially doing the job that our right hand generally does; it becomes a ride pattern.  So, if we can make this left hand pattern second nature to the point where we can improvise (i.e. comp) with our right hand, we'll have opened up a whole world of possibilities.

The best way to attack this is the same way you learned to comp with your left hand while playing a swing pattern on the ride cymbal; practice playing the right hand on each division of the beat, then in groupings of twos, then threes, and finally, add stylistic figures such as partido alto and teleco teco.

If you spend some time with this sheet it shouldn't be too long before you feel comfortable enough to start improvising with the right hand on the ride cymbal or a tamborim.  In an upcoming post we'll talk about how to improvise with these rhythms in a stylistically accurate fashion.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Kiko Freitas-style samba

It's been about 12 years since a Brazilian friend of mine first introduced me to the drumming of Kiko Freitas.  Recently I finally got to see him play live with Brazilian legend João Bosco.  Kiko was one of the first Brazilian drummers I was exposed to when started really digging in to this music.  He’s one of those drummers who sounds exactly like their records when playing live which was hugely satisfying.

I’ve written about Kiko’s playing before on this blog, and mentioned him in a couple of my Modern Drummer articles from a few years back.  In the MD article I mentioned a signature groove of his whereby he plays this rhythm on every beat in his left hand.

This underlying rhythm is one of the driving forces behind samba.  In his right hand he then plays 8th notes, so we're left with this:

By sticking it in this way we get a steady stream of really swinging 16th notes, but our right hand is free to do a little bit more.  The most basic approach would be to move between the ride and snare, like so:

It’s also quite nice to go to the floor tom to emulate a surdo.

These grooves are particularly useful when playing a fast samba where most of us mortals can’t play that crazy-fast right hand thing that guys like Kiko and Edu Ribeiro can do.

I really enjoyed seeing Kiko put this groove to use with João Bosco in London a couple weeks back.  And at the concert he took this idea to another level.  He still had the 1ea rhythm in his left hand, but he then proceeded to play a telecoteco pattern on his ride cymbal, which was absolutely killer.

I was able to find a video of Kiko playing this groove on YouTube.  This particular pattern start around 1:49.

As with any groove there's a lot more to it than is notated.  You'll have to listen and play along to properly imitate the inflection and swing.

Try any or all of the ideas above with some of these rhythms in your feet.

And also remember that there’s always the “Jazz Samba Builder” that you can pull some ideas from as well.