Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Jeff "Tain" Watts Songo Grooves and Fills

For some reason this one has been in the drafts folder for ages, so I'm excited to finally get it out.  I came across this video a few years ago of Tain playing with an unnamed band at the San Jose Jazz Fest in 2014.  I was initially taken by the way he used the cowbell, and by the way he put the last note of the tumbao on the tom or floor tom instead of the bass drum, so I decided to dig into it.


It's funny when we first see/hear certain things, especially at brighter tempos, it seems like there is so much going on, but when you look a little deeper at this video you'll notice that Tain isn't actually playing that many different things rhythmically.  It's often the same, or very similar, stickings orchestrated differently around the drums (sort of like in the Eric Harland transcription we looked at way back when).

And, speaking of what he's playing, it's basically a 3-2 Songo.  This may not immediately jump out at you as a Songo, because Songo is so often played in 2-3.  So much so that 2-3 Songo is often simply taught as the single way to play Songo.  A quick Google search turns up a plethora of images that look like this:

Now, I'm not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this.  This is a perfectly acceptable way to play a Songo.  It's just that I get the feeling that a lot of drummers don't appreciate the fact that Songo isn't a pattern or sticking, but a style, to which there is much more than this one way of playing that is often shown to be the "correct" way.

Check out where the clave fits in the pattern above:

This can just as easily be played in 3-2:

And of course this is, by far, not the only sticking and/or orchestration that we can employ, as we can see in the Tain video.

There are plenty of hits in this tunes, so rather than transcribe the whole video and end up with a lot of superfluous material, I decided to grab the sections of groove that could easily be applied elsewhere, as well as some fills to go along with them.  You'll have to use your ears and some common sense, but you could likely take a lot of these grooves and mix and match them with the fills at various points to come up with some nice ideas of your own.

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