Despite being supremely bummed out about it, I didn't post anything last week when Chick Corea passed. There wasn't much I could say that hadn't been said already.
The only good thing to come out of the loss has been the past week being absolutely filled with people posting Chick's music everywhere. A particular one that jumped out at me was this live video of a very early incarnation of Return to Forever. It's basically the first version of the band with Chick, Stanley Clarke, Joe Farrell, and Airto. Flora Purim is missing, though, and Bill Tragesser is on percussion behind a young Airto that we get to see on kit rather than his usual percussion setup. Those first two albums are my favorite version of the band, and some of my favorite Chick material period.
Edu Ribeiro has been doing a very enjoyable series of live-streamed interviews with some fantastic drummers over the past few months. Back in December Kiko Freitas joined him, and they ended up spending quite a bit of time talking about Kiko's unique way of playing samba, and he brought up some points that I thought were worth sharing. Two in particular really stood out to me, both of which regarding the left hand playing "1ea".
1. Don't be afraid of rebound. We're often fed the idea that we should be able to stroke out everything on a feather pillow. That's all very well and good, but that doesn't mean that we always should stroke everything out. The "syncopa" rhythm that Kiko plays in his left hand is imitating a few different instruments of the bateria, but mostly the repinique. Kiko points out that stylistically the repique is played with a group of three notes that come out of one motion, or throw of the stick. It's this rebound that actually creates that distinctive swing. So don't try to chop out each individual note. Throw the stick and let it do a lot of the work for you. Which brings me to my next point....
2. Don't think of the downbeat as your starting point. Initiate the motion on the last 16th note of the rhythm. So, rather than thinking "1ea, 2ea", think "a1e, a2e". Again, this will strengthen that characteristic swing feel.
Keep these points in mind while you give it a try with this sheet.
Here is the whole interview. They had some technical difficulties, but it's worth sticking it out as they share some great information.
One of my favorite Brazilian drummers, Marcio Bahia, recently posted a few videos to YouTube in which he plays a three-note sticking of RLL as a way to come up with some creative orchestrations over common Brazilian grooves.
It's pretty much the same principal as my 3-5-7 exercise, in which you play odd groupings over duple meter. But as I said back then, resist the urge to think of this as 3/16 or 3/8 over 4/4 or 2/4. Just think in whatever meter the groove is in and play 16th notes with a RLL sticking in your hands.
Marcio takes this concept a step further by incorporating accents. Once you're comfortable with placing accents on each part of the sticking you can play some common rhythms that accompany the foot parts. The RLL sticking will give you some interesting orchestrations of those rhythms if you leave your right hand on the hi-hat or ride, and your left hand on the snare and/or toms. From there you can/should improvise with both the accent placements and the voicings around the kit.
This one somehow slipped past me. Released in 1997 I only discovered in a few weeks ago.
Here, Christian McBride, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and guitarist Mark Whitfield play an album comprised entirely of Herbie Hancock repertoire. Bass, trumpet and guitar is a really nice combo that you don't hear very often, and makes for a great drummer-less recording.
The straight ahead stuff is really swingin' (like there was any doubt), and there's a nice variety of tempos and styles as well. Check it out.