Thursday, December 16, 2021

Afro-Cuban basics

Here's another back to basics sheet; a survival kit for playing Afro-Cuban music, or generic "Latin Jazz".  

It's a simple modular approach with three patterns for the right hand, three for the left hand, and three for the right foot.  If you can play each of these patterns with each of the others you'll be able to get through a lot of material on your average gig.

This is also a nice way to construct a simple arrangement.  When it comes time to head to a different part of a tune just change one element.  I feel that less experienced players often try to do too much.  The groove is the most important thing here, so keep it simple.  For example, let's say you're playing cascara together with clave, and the first bombo pattern.  When that next section comes up try keeping your right hand and right foot the same, but switching to one of the conga grooves with the left hand.  Often times one change like that does more than we realize and can really lift the tune without have to do much else.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Syncopation in 3/4

Here's a sheet to go with the 3/4 ride and hi-hat patterns from the other day.  Really it's just the phrases from "Syncopation Set 2" in Ted Reed's Syncopation with beats hacked off of it.

Try each of these with different ride and hi-hat combinations from the last sheet.  If you want to go deeper, Todd Bishop at Cruise Ship Drummer! has an entire book dedicated to Syncopation in 3/4.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Basic 3/4 ride and hi-hat combinations

I try not to post too much stuff here on the blog that is already widely available in a million other places, but I recently put this sheet together for a student and figured there was no harm in sharing it with all of you as well.  If nothing else maybe it will serve as a reminder to occasionally revisit the "basics".

I generally try to play through anything I give my students to make sure that A) the sheet is right, and B) I'm not asking them to do anything I haven't shed myself.  And funnily enough, while not difficult, this sheet showed me that there are certain ride and hi-hat combinations that just never made their way into my day-to-day playing.  It's not that I couldn't play them, but they just didn't feel as natural, especially when getting the left hand involved.  So it's been fun putting on Max Roach's Jazz in 3/4 Time and take these for a spin.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Brush Book Joe Morello Never Wrote

We can complain about algorithms all we want, but they often find interesting things for us.  Because of the videos in the last post about Mel Brown playing through Brush Artistry YouTube recommended to me a series of videos by Jon Hazilla, who I'm not familiar with, but apparently teaches at Berklee.

Jon studied with Joe Morello, and later developed his own approach to Master Studies using brushes to develop facility with lateral strokes.

I've been revisiting Master Studies lately myself (with sticks, that is), so I think I'll be giving this a try soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Mel Brown demonstrating Philly Joe's "Brush Artistry"

In a recent excursion down the YouTube rabbit hole I came across a YouTube playlist of Portland drumming legend Mel Brown demonstrating each of the patterns in Philly Joe's venerable book Brush Artistry.  These are short, sweet, and to the point if you have any doubts about how the material in the book should be executed.

As the book is many years out of print, I can't see how there'd be much harm in sharing the fact that a scanned copy of it can be found here.  We certainly wouldn't want it to be lost to time.

Coincidentally, Mel was recently interviewed by Christian McBride on NPR's Jazz Night in America.  Check it out below to find out more about Mel and hear him play with his organ group.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Carmen Intorre solo transcription

I first heard Carmen Intorre play in 2012 at Ronnie Scott's with Pat Martino.  The whole band were crushing that evening.  I had long been wanting to do an organ trio record myself, and that show put the spark under my ass to finally do it.  I was so inspired by it that I even called Pat Bianchi to do the record, which you can check out in the menu on the right.

Anyway, with the recent passing Pat Martino I've been revisiting a bunch of his records, and in listening to his final record, "Formidable", got to thinking again about that evening at Ronnie's and the great teamwork of Bianchi and Intorre.

I was reminded of this video I saw back in 2014 when looking for a studio to do my record.  It's a promo video for guitarist Alessandro Florio, and features a very nicely constructed solo by Carmen.  I was always struck by how relaxed Carmen was and how naturally he made his way around the kit and flowed from one idea to the other.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Rafael Barata samba practice loop

It's been a little awhile since I've done one of these practice loops, but this one has really been coming in handy lately for both teaching and my own practice.

This comes from the opening track of Rosa Passos' 2011 album É Luxo Só named after the Ary Baroso tune of the same name that is very much a Brazilian standard.  The whole album is an absolute clinic of samba and bossa nova drumming.

The loop below is simply Barata playing surdo and a telecoteco pattern on tamborim, leaving lots of room for you to try things out with it.

And, as there is no harmony or melody on this loop, you are free to practice on both sides of the rhythm, feeling it like this:

...or like this:

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Camilo Mariano (1955-2021)

I just found out that one of the great Brazilian studio drummers, Camilo Mariano, passed away at the end of July.

Camilo is one of those players who never seemed to become a household name (at least not outside of Brazil), He didn't do much of the samba/jazz fusion like many of the other drummers we check out here on the blog, but rather was a first call samba session drummer.  If you've checked out any samba at all, it's very likely you'll have heard his playing.  Camilo appears on records by some of the biggest names in samba and MPB, including Tim Maia, Chico Buarque, Danilo Caymmi, Maria Rita, Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola, Leny Andrade, Alcione, Dudu Nobre, and many more.  Just check out his discography on Discos do Brasil and as neither list is exhaustive.  If you want to dig deep and play some real deal non-textbook book samba, Camilo is a great place to start.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Groove Transcription - Ivan 'Mamão' Conti, "Pulando Corda"

One of the big name Brazilian drummers I have yet to cover on this blog is Ivan "Mamão" Conti, from Azymuth.  Mamão and Azymuth are probably best known for the tune "Partido Alto" which is now a jazz fusion standard and one of the first tunes to use the partido alto rhythm in the modernized drumset orchestration that can be heard on the track.

Conti phrases and orchestrates Brazilian rhythms in ways different to many of the other Brazilian drummers both old and new that  we've looked at on the blog.  I find that his playing is focused less on chops, and is not as busy as some other players.  Part of this could be due to the fact that Azymuth don’t often play at extremely fast tempos, opting instead for more mid-tempo grooves.  Also, despite the slower tempos I tend to hear less of the steady 16th note time keeping in favor of a more syncopated approach, which is exactly what we’re looking at today.

This transcription comes from the tune “Pulando Corda” on Azymuth's latest release which came out last year on the Jazz is Dead label.

As I mentioned earlier, Mamão foregoes the constant right hand 16th notes, and instead plays his own variation of telecoteco.  The left hand then supports the right hand rhythm with occasional accents at various points in the bar.  We’ve seen a somewhat similar approach by Edison Machado.

The phrases below were transcribed directly from the recording, and as you’ll see the second bar of the phrase rarely changes.  But like most samba influenced music, these rhythms are directional meaning you can mix and match any of the first bars with any of the second bars as long as you stay on the right side of the rhythm.

Equally, you could change the direction by playing any of the second bars followed by any of the first bars.

Both of the above approaches are worth experimenting with, and you could even revisit this post and try a different telecoteco pattern in your right hand while playing around with different rhythmic placements of the left hand.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Two-handed Mambo Bell Patterns

This was shown to me by an excellent percussionist here in London by the name of Tristan Butler.  It's a great way to vary the orchestration of some common salsa rhythms.

Probably the most common "ride" pattern when orchestrating salsa music on the drumset is cascara:

This would traditionally be played on the shell of a timbale.  A drumset player would use the ride cymbal, or the shell of a floor tom.

The left hand often then plays clave on a rim click, or would emulate the congas with a combination of rim sounds and toms.

This is a very common, functional, and effective orchestration.  But at the same time it leaves our hands pretty busy, and doesn't leave us much capacity to play other parts of traditional salsa arrangements, such other bell patterns.

But if we leave out the conga pattern or clave, the cascara still carries the groove and a hand is freed up a to play another pattern.  Tristan tells me this is a common orchestration, as the bongo player is often the first person to be cut when the ensemble needs to be smaller.

So now, let's move the cascara pattern to our left hand, and use our right hand to play some of the mambo bell patterns that the bongo player would have played.  This can be a real roast if you spent years playing cascara in your right hand.  But it's a great sound, and a fun challenge.

My personal favorite sound is with two bells: cascara on a smaller bell, and the mambo pattern on a larger mambo bell.  However, if you only have one, or even no cowbells your can put the cascara pattern on your hi-hat with your left hand, and play the mambo pattern on your lone bell, or even the ride cymbal.

The examples above are common combinations, but I believe you can play pretty much any of the first bars and follow them up with any of the second bars for variety.

As you work on this, bear in mind that both the cascara pattern and the mambo bells patterns are directional, just like the clave.  The sheet above is written in 2-3, so if you want to play 3-2 just start with the second bar of any of the patterns and follow it with the first bar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Three Camps in flam accents, flam taps, and pataflaflas

Here's a fun arrangement of The Three Camps that I came up with a few weeks back.

The five stroke rolls from the original become flam accents, and the eleven stroke rolls become flam taps.  When you get to the second and third camps with the pickup notes we're still going to play flam taps where the long roll would be, but in order to turn it around we'll cut it short by an 8th note and make the turnaround a pataflafla.  Doing this puts us on the opposite hand on the repeats which is an added bonus.

The whole thing follows the exact structure of the original with the exception of the final bar which I wrote just to make it a little more interesting.

Have fun.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Another "Puh-Duh-Duh" exercise

As promised, here's some more pad business to enjoy outside.

We did one of these "puh-duh-duh" exercises awhile back.  I like this sticking.  It rolls off the hands nicely and makes for a relaxed warm-up.

This time though, we're going to add some paradiddles into the fold, making it more difficult on a few levels.  Not only do we have to deal with the gear change between triplets and 16th notes in general, but often we're moving swiftly between double strokes at the triplet rate and 16th note rate.

Play the whole thing as written, with no accents.  Then for a few variations, try keeping everything low, but accenting the single notes of the puh-duh-duh's, like so:

And also, with an accent on every beat, regardless of the sticking, like so:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Stick Control Diddle System

We're coming into that time of year where I spend a lot more time out on the back porch with a pad in front of me just working the hands, writing exercises, and playing along to music.  So is here a system for Stick Control that is simple concept, but quickly becomes quite the workout both in terms of chops and brain power.

Awhile back we applied flams to Stick Control.  This is a similar concept that applys double strokes.  The basic system is below, with all the 16th notes played as double strokes:

From here simply add the stickings from the first few pages of Stick Control.  So, for example, number one will look like this:

Once we get past the single strokes we end up getting three and four strokes on one hand.  Number three (which is paradiddles), for example, will look like this:

After number 13, when the patterns become four beats long instead of just two, is when the real mental game comes in.  Here's what number 14 will look like, for example:

This will work all the way through number 72, so that should keep you busy for awhile.  More nerdy pad stuff coming this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Samba Invertido, aka "A batida do 'Tamanduá'" ("The 'Tamanduá' beat")

This is a very cool groove that I've been enjoying for many years and have been meaning to write about for almost as long.  I'm pretty sure it was developed by Hamilton de Holanda.

I first heard it in 2007 when I went to Brazil and picked up the first album by de Holanda's now famous quintet.  The album is called Brasilianos, and the groove came up in the song "Pra Sempre".  It only appears for a few bars at a time at the end of the first A section.  You'll find it  in the melody at 0:16 and 0:58, and many more times throughout the solos and out head.  Marcio Bahia is on drums.

Two years later, in 2009, de Holanda's quintet released a new album, called Brasilianos 2, and the same rhythm was on a very beautiful, and very funky tune called "Tamanduá".  Within the first few bars I recognized it as "that cool groove from 'Pra Sempre'".  Except this time an entire piece had been composed around it.  Again, Marcio Bahia is on drums, and he includes a few different variations on the groove.

Bahia orchestrates it a few different ways in this live version as well.

So what's going on here?  The answer is actually right in front of us, though cleverly hidden.  It didn't jump out to me until I saw Hamilton de Holanda's own chart for "Tamanduá".  Beneath the title the style marking said "Samba Invertido", which translates "inverted samba", and it smacked me in the face.

If you keep up with my regular postings on samba and Brazilian music, you might already know that a common telecoteco rhythm looks like this:

This rhythm is directional, meaning that depending on the composition it could be played as you see it above, or the two bars can be swapped so the cycle starts on beat one of the second bar.

But, if we start on beat two of the second bar (or "invert" it), we end up with this:

Which just so happens to be exactly what is being played in the examples above.  "Tamanduá" adds an additional layer of disorientation by starting on a pick up note, like so:

Edu Ribeiro has played this groove a few times as well, putting his own subtle spin on it.  The first was in 2011 when, Jota P., a sax/flute player from Hermeto Pascoal's band released a self-titled solo album.  The track "Que Fase!" features the groove.

And finally, in 2019, Hamilton de Holanda released a record with a new quartet featuring guitarist Daniel Santiago from his quintet, Thiago Espírito Santo on bass (son of Arismar do Espírito Santo, and occasional sub in the HH quintet), and Edu Ribeiro on drums.  The album, Harmonize, is one of de Holanda's finest in my opinion, and features a new rendition of "Tamanduá".

This groove is quite a specific thing, so I wouldn't recommend dropping it willy-nilly into your next bossa gig.  But it presents it's own challenges that are a lot of fun to work though and might give you some new creative ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises in Four-Note Groupings ala Bill Stewart

Last week I received more e-mails requesting PDFs than I have in a long time.  It seems many of you really enjoyed the various Elvin inspired exercises.  I've been enjoying them too, so I kept going with them.

This time around I've taken the quarter note triplet exercises, and experimented with playing groupings of four notes.  Because there are only three notes in the bar, the four note phrases will roll over the barline, and resolves tidily after four bars.

Starting on the beat looks like this:

While starting on the second note looks like this:

Bill Stewart does this quite often to great effect.  You can see one example of it here on the blog in the transcription of "Metamorphosis".

Adding this variable to the mix means that the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of voicings, but I came up with three simple ideas to get you started.

Pick any two voices, and play two of each: SSBB; HHSS; BBHH, etc.

Pick any two voices and treat one as A and one as B: BBSB; SSBS; HHSH, etc.

Use all three voices and treat one as A, one as B, and one as C: BSBH; SHSB; HBHS, etc.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises

If you've listened to any Elvin at all you'll almost surely know that, in addition to the sounds we explored in the last two posts, quarter note triplets are a big part of Elvin's sound.

Because we'll still be playing three notes for every two beats, we can use all the same voicing options we did on the two inner triplet exercises.  If we start on the beat, then there's really only one note different in the whole thing: the first non-ride cymbal note will be on the downbeat, rather than the second partial of the triplet.

I've written it out again, however, with both the two and three voice versions on one page because A) it's easier to visualize if you're new to this, and B) to emphasize the placement of these notes, as it's far too common that this: 

Gets played like this: 

And for a whole other set of options we can leave the ride cymbal alone, but shift all of the comping notes an 8th note later.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplet Exercise, part 2

Continuing on with the Elvin exercise we looked at on Monday, we can also play just two voices per cycle through the ride cymbal pattern.  Remember, we're simply using our left hand and both feet to fill in the triplets not being played on the ride.  By using only two voices each time we're left with doubles on each voice.

I don't feel this is necessarily any more difficult or any easier than the three-voice interpretation, but rather is just a different sound, and certainly gives us a lot more variations to experiment with.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplets Exercise

I've been re-visiting a lot of Elvin lately as I have a student who is just beginning his deep dive into the material.

In gathering some material to send over to him I was reminded of this excellent post by Canadian drummer, Jon McCaslin on his long-running "Four on the Floor" blog.  The whole thing is definitely worth a read, but today I want to focus on one exercise in particular that Jon saw Elvin demonstrate at a clinic in the late '90s.

The concept is fairly simple.  You'll play a stock ride cymbal pattern in your right hand, and fill in the remaining triplets on another voice.

Each time through the two-beat ride cymbal pattern we have three notes to play and three limbs to play them with, so start by playing each limb once.  That gives us six different combinations to work with.

This wasn't mentioned in the original post, but by playing a double stroke on the snare drum we end up with further Elvin-esque ideas.

Drop me an e-mail if you'd like of PDF of this worksheet, and be sure to check out "Four on the Floor".  There is a ton of great stuff over there.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Flam Accent/Swiss Army Triplet/Single Flammed Mill Study

How's that for a nice, concise name?

I've been working these three rudiments on the set with a student of mine.  Some came easier than others and flowing between them was one of the rough spots.

When this happens either with my students or myself I'm a big fan of creating simple exercises that can be played on the pad or even just on your lap.  If you've checked out any of the other studies I've posted here before, then you'll know that I also like to make them naturally flip to be practiced off both hands.

So I quickly jotted down this little study that incorporates all three and naturally switches hands.  Try repeating it with drags added as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bira Presidente Trademark Language

I recently came upon this video on pandeiro legend, Bira Presidente, talking about his playing style.  At the 1:15 mark Bira demonstrates the same trademark sounds that we looked at awhile back in the transcription of him playing "Vai Lá, Vai Lá" with Fundo de Quintal.

Here's the original post of the transcription, and notation of the phrases in the video below.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Latin Bell Patterns with Syncopation

Allison Miller has been posting some great practice ideas over on her Instagram page, and this one popped up the other day.  Play any common Latin Jazz rhythm with your feet and left hand, like so....

...and then read page 38 of Syncopation with your right hand on the ride cymbal.  As Allison points out, this really helps to free up your right hand and allow you to break away from common patterns.

This is the same general concept as the Kiko Freitas samba ideas we looked at recently where the feet and left hand play common samba rhythms and the right hand improvises in a telecoteco style.  Both of these are a really nice way to break out of the habit of thinking about ostinatos in your right hand and improvising with the left.

If page 38 is going by to quickly for you, don't forget that pages 34-37 are great to give yourself a little more time and repetition to get used to this, or any, concept.  I often do this myself and recommend it to my students as well.

As you get more comfortable, experiment with different sounds on the ride.  Play the bell, shoulder it a bit, etc.  Or, if you prefer a bit more structure in the practice room, try this....

Play everything on the bell.  But whenever there are two or more 8th notes in a row, start on the bow, and only play the last note of the group on the bell.  So the first two lines become this...

And if you have checked out Allison Miller yet, definitely do so.  Allison is a fellow WVU grad, though she finished a few years before I got there.  I've been to a few of her masterclasses, and her educational style and ideas are just as bad ass as her playing.