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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Transcription - Charlie Smith, "Hot House"

This is one I've been meaning to do for a long time.  Years, really.  I remember the first time I saw this video in college, and was struck by a few things.  For one, I don't know that I had seen a left-handed jazz drummer before then.  Also, the band seemed like an unlikely bunch.  For one, I was surprised not to see Max Roach on drums, and two the bassist, who is named Sandy Block, seemed kind of old for that crew.  And the pianist is Dick Hyman, who was also a host of the television show that this performance was on.

The drummer is Charlie Smith.  His name isn't thrown around as often as the likes of Kenny Clarke or Max Roack, but he had an enviable career working for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, and more.

I love Charlie's feel on this tune, and the minimal set up with the jumbo bass drum.