How to learn jazz drumming

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drumming adept
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Post Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:58 am

andybfrank wrote:Can someone who knows the music I'm talking about give me some advice as to how to approach this style of playing? I just can't follow it. I can't even hear a pattern in some of that stuff, but it sounds really cool.

Maybe tomorrow we can have someone give a lecture on quantum physics. It's really that complicated.

First, those bop drummers had a great advantage on all of us who came after because they grew up hearing that kind of phrasing, that kind of rhythm. Where they took it is probably locked up in a genius specific to that time period, but we at least have had some bright drummers who've been able to capture some specifics to the phrasing that helps students capture the essence of that playing.

People have mentioned John Riley's book, the Art of Bop Drumming, and that seems to have bumped Chapin's book out of the top spot. Chapin's book was written before or on the cusp of the genre. Riley's has the benefit of looking back at the last 60 years with keen hindsight. I would suggest starting there.

Specifically to your question, there are some guidelines that may help you:

- The heart of all bop drumming is the hi-hat. While it's not universally kept, even experienced players are *hearing* the 2&4 of the hi-hat ... usually played, but always implied. You have to have that hard *chick* going with the left-foot hi-hat.

- Unlike the earlier forms of jazz, bop sort of deemphasizes "splang-splanga-splang." Bop encourages more expressions on the ride, even straight eights and sixteenths in the right context. HOWEVER, it has to *swing* and that's where the complexity of the music becomes an almost impossible learning curve to conquer. "Swing" seems subjective, but it's really not. It's more like porn: Can't define it, but know when it is and when it isn't when I hear it. You will just have to listen to a LOT of bop and let the masters paint a picture for you.

- The bass drum is not a time keeper. It's another musical tone, like a floor tom played with your foot. Don't make the mistake of disconnecting it from your hands. It's helpful in the beginning to think of your hands and your right foot as all playing the same drum but with different voices. Phrasings are linear ... but if you think too much in that linear mindset, you end up with some very flat swing. Fine line, but something you'll learn more about with experience.
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groove master
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Post Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:07 pm

a big kick drum lesson for jazz drumming is letting the beater bounce off of the head instead of "burying" it like what is done in more contemporary forms of music (hitting the bassd rum and keeping the beater there until you need to hit it again). this lets the bass drum ring out like any other drum does.

the key to the bop feel is the swung note triplet played on the ride (this same pattern is used in earlier jazz and swing, but played on the hi-hat).

the hi-hat chick replaces the bass drum as a timekeeper (chicked on beats 2 and 4 in virtually any time signature)

the snare drum is another drum that needs to be played in swift, soft single or double strokes (singles should be more of a flick than a hit, and doubles/rolls should follow the same swung pattern as used on the ride.

in addition, you should learn to use the entire drumset, including the rims of your snare and your toms. rimshots are used very often, and not just in snare rolls or solos. they can add flavor to your playing (this goes for virtually any genre)
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Post Sun Jul 01, 2007 11:35 am

andybfrank wrote:I have a specific question. I'm not really that into jazz, although I respect it quite a bit and intend on playing more of it. I'm not that familiar with all the good jazz drummers, but I've listened to some Miles Davis and I love what the drummers are doing there. Specifically, I've heard Miles Davis Greatest Hits. There's some crazy bebop suff going on there that I can't even begin to pick up on. Can someone who knows the music I'm talking about give me some advice as to how to approach this style of playing? I just can't follow it. I can't even hear a pattern in some of that stuff, but it sounds really cool.

As regards the above post and the original one:

None of the chops stuff that kinda defines BeBop drumming (ding-a-ling ding-a-ling on ride, HH on 2+4, and all hell breaking loose on snare and bass drum...) makes, or will make, any sense at all unless one doesn't, as mentioned before, listen to and get into the music/the context within which that stylistic drum music happens. BeBop or jazz drumming is like the music itself: it isn't static, there are no licks 'n' beats that one can memorize and place at will within the music being played at that moment. It's like trying to pick up women with a pre-ordained pick up line. It won't work. Ya gotta go with the flow, be in the moment. Listen. Individualized in-the-moment-attentiveness. As Jack DeJohnette said, "Jazz drumming is when the technique and the inspiration happen instantaneously." The ol' Body and Soul flash-to-bangtime. It's the hardest part about this style of drumming cuz we're brought up in a musical environment that is based on parts ala classical music: I do this, you do that, and it never really changes.
Sam Rivers: "Jazz is first and foremost improvisation."

That being said, since the drumming in question is a four-limbed improvisational beast to be tamed....there are methods with which one can approach the problem. As has been previously pointed out, there are books. But they'll do ya no good unless you have a teacher who KNOWS HIS SHIT. The world is fulla drummers who learn jazz/BeBop drumming for all the wrong reasons and in the wrong feel. Stunt drumming is VERY exciting for a couple of minutes. It's the most boring beat down after that. (Proof= we've all seen some of this type of drumming on videos at the local drum store. How many of you plunked down the Big Bucks and now own the video?...). Jazz/Bebop drumming (and the music itself) is HIGHLY predicated on an individualism that successfully relates to the individualism of others in a musical context. It's why many of these drummers play with an alarming number of musicians and can "make it happen" with all of them. (Many of the drummers listed below are examples).

The point is that jazz/BeBop drummers play a particular Bad Boy Drum Thang for a reason that is explicitly tied to that particular moment in time with those particular musicians. The moral of the story is: Find a hard-core jazzer who teaches (yes, it helps if they're "schooled") and make sure that this person knows about things other than The Drum Gods Of BeBop. You don't want some hoity-toity-holier-that-thou clown who can't understand what got YOU into Music in the first place if s/he thinks that Messhugah's drummer is "beneath" his/her wonderfulness. Who needs that shit?

Recordings of note:

Any Miles Davis w/ Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Tony Williams
Any Max Roach/Clifford Brown
Any Max Roach ...."Drums Unlimited". Max was the inventor of the drum Tune. Bozzio is forever in his debt. Max has been referred to as The King of Drummers.
Any John Coltrane 4tet recording with Elvin Jones. Elvin was Mitch Mitchell's (and EVERY drummer's Daddy whether they know it or not...!) main inspiration.
Any Yusef Lateef recording with James Black.
Anything with Roy Haynes. He was the first to record with a flat ride. Recordings of note include "Question and Answer"(Pat Metheny), Out Of The Afternoon(Roy Haynes), Black Fire(Andrew Hill), Live at Newport '63 and Dear Old Stockholm (both by John Coltrane)
Joey Baron....Live In Spain(Bill Frisell) and several John Zorn recordings with his Masada band, In Our Lifetime (Dave Douglas), his first solo recording Tongue In Groove
Peter Erskine....Bass Desires (Mark Johnson), November(John Abercrombie)
Bill Stewart...any of the ones he recorded with John Scofield's bands). Bill's first two solo recordings are also kick-ass.
Any recording with Billy Higgins.
Rashied Ali...Interstellar Space (duo with Coltrane..........a very scary recording)
Any Branford Marsalis recording with Jeff "Tain" Watts. Try the Bloomfield recording for size. It's sick.
Jack DeJohnette.........Special Edition, Audio Visual Landscapes, any of the Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/DeJohnette recordings like Always Know. There's a John Abercrombie recording called Timeless that I strongly recommend cuz it's a great example of the music made by folks who are jazzers but who were very well aware that Jimi Hendrix isn't referred to as a God for no reason. Jack's drumming is scary and it's too amazing: it can't be written on paper. It's, yes, timeless and the essence of time itself. His flow is beautiful.
Any Thelonious Monk recording with Frankie Dunlop or Ben Riley...Ben's on Straight No Chaser.
Art Blakey has a billion recordings...Night In Tunisia still makes me laugh in amazement after 20+ years.
Jim Black is typical of today's jazz drummer: grew up on punk, rock, etc. And his drumming reflects that. His first solo recording is called AlasNoAxis. . It is prefect for drummers who are trying to figure out jazz drumming as it relates to the post-Zepplin/Hendrix/Black Sabbath world. It's recording that I've turned dozens of friends and musicians onto with much success. It's heavy and beautiful and destroys the notion that jazz drumming (jazz in general) is kinda passee and not "withit". Jim Black is a bad m*****f*****er.
Daniel Humair is drummer based in France. Sick chops, sick sick chops. Any recording with Joachim Kuhn. He's recorded a billion times with a who's who of the Euro and USA jazz folks.
Jon Christensen....another Euro drummer, Scandinavian, tons of recordings with Jarrett's European band in the 70's and 80's. and lots of Euro heavies. He was practically the house drummer for ECM recordings forever. Still is I think....cuz everyone uses him.
Bobby Previte is a NY drummer/composer with lots of recording under his own name and with others. He's a modern heavy.
Most Charles Mingus recordings have Danny Richmond playing drums. I love the recordings Changes One and Changes Two. Danny was a bad-ass.

I could go on but....

Last recommendation: drink plenty of fluids and eat your vegetables. Above all have patience and use your ears cuz your ears (if REALLY listened to) will tell ya what to practice, HOW to practice, what to play, and when to...
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Post Sun Jul 01, 2007 11:49 am

There's so many approaches to learning the jazz type rhythms. For starters, rock beats are generally based upon 8th notes. Jazz swing beats are based on the triplet. You'll want to start getting a good understanding of triplets and how they can make ordinary 8th notes "bounce".

Then, the is the academic side- there are a myriad of books out there that are geared towards developing jazz independence. Get into one of those and start working around with that stuff.

Finally, the art of listening is really your greatest asset. Learn to pick up and mimic what others are doing.
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Post Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:22 pm

Moeller Technique. difficult to learn. but once you get it it just makes things sooo much easier, it doesnt matter witch grop u use either.[/b]
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break the prism
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Post Sun Jul 01, 2007 2:22 pm

Ed Blackwell, Max Roach, Cozy Cole, and Elvin Jones were the guys I learned from.
Beat on.