Thursday, December 18, 2014

Play-Along 2.0

My last post on the importance of playing along with recordings generated a few comments. Here's a few other suggestions from you, the reader, for things to practice and play along with:

Christian McBride - "Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock"

Christian McBride/Roy Hargrove/Stephen Scott - "Parker's Mood"

John Coltrane - "Coltrane Plays the Blues"
(apparently the drums are only on one channel so you can mix them out...)

Mike Murley/Ed Bickert/Steve Wallace - "Live at the Senator"

Any of Ahmad Jamal's 1950s drummer-less recordings
(thank you Todd Bishop from Cruiseship Drummer for this great suggestion!)


Also, there are a few other very good educational resources out there that I neglected to mention in my previous post:

Tommy Igoe's "Groove Essentials" series apparently has many very good tracks to play with.

John Riley's "The Art of Bop Drumming" and "Beyond Bop Drumming" both have excellent play-along tracks contained on the accompanying CDs. I've used these both extensively over the years and quite like them.

This one recently showed up in my mailbox and I look forward to checking this resource out in the coming weeks:

This one is unique in that there are two sets of tracks of each tune so you can hear Hart's drumming, interpretation and approach (with accompanying transcriptions) on one set of tracks and then try out your own ideas out on a second set of tracks without the drums (many of the tracks on John Riley's  CDs from his books also follow the same approach, however minus the transcriptions). I hope to play with Dave Liebman someday, so maybe this one might be a good start ; )

Okay, any others we should know about?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jack DeJohnette "Wise One"

This is an awesome trio featuring Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison on John Coltrane's "Wise One":"

Given DeJohnette's accomplishments and stature as a true, living Jazz legend, I think that the title of "Wise One" is a good choice ; )

I don't believe that this particular group has recorded as a trio yet but I hope that a release of some kind is forthcoming in the future...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BBC Radio 3: Jazz Libraries

From Richard Pite on Alyn Shipton's BBC Radio 3: Jazz Libraries, here's a series of podcasts featuring the music of several significant Jazz drummers and an overview of their styles and contributions:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Many years ago, when I was just getting started in this whole business of Jazz drumming, Toronto drummer Ted Warren gave me a great piece of advice that I still think about quite a bit and has been an invaluable tool in my development as a musician. I still incorporate this into my regular practice sessions and recommend it to all my students.

This brilliant piece of wisdom that Ted laid on me was that I spend some serious time practicing along with recordings of other great Jazz drummers, and any recordings in general that I enjoy listening to, in order to get my sense of time together.

I like to practice my rudiments and basic beats and patterns along with a metronome and we should obviously all spend time with one in order to develop a consistent sense of time. But in terms of developing my timekeeping AND musical sensibilities, playing along with recordings (both with and without drummers) has been and will always continue to be an invaluable learning tool.

Of course metronomes won't speed up or slow down and we need this steady reference point in order to learn how to play time in a steady, consistent way. But there is a lot to be said for learning to play in a way where, perhaps, the tempos do, in fact, move a little (and this isn't necessarily a bad thing....Ted called this the "human" element of timekeeping) and, importantly, how to play in the context of a musical performance. Really you can and should be able to practice playing at least a simple beat along with any recording. It really forces to you listen intensely and develop your listening skills (especially if the bass and/or drums are low in the mix).

For myself, playing with any recordings of Thelonious Monk's (ex. Monk's Dream) or Miles Davis (ex. Workin', Cookin', Steamin' and Relaxin') are always recordings that I find myself going back to (among many others.)

Also, there is a lot to be said for playing along with a given drummer, trying to get "inside the head" of that particular drummer's style. Trying to match, to a certain extent, the cymbal phrasing, style and feeling of another drummer is only going to benefit your own playing and development.

In terms of playing along with drummer-less recordings, there are many out there worth practicing along with as well.

Adam Nussbaum recommended to me playing along any of the early Nat King Cole trio recordings.

Years ago in a clinic with the Ed Shaughnessy, he recommended this particular Oscar Peterson record:–_Montreux_'77

In the back of his book "The Art of Bop Drumming", John Riley recommends the following drummer-less albums to play-along with:

Jim Hall "Jazz Guitar"

Wynton Kelly "Piano"

Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis "Triple Threat"

Oscar Peterson "The Trio"

Bill Evans "Undercurrent" and "Intuition"

Personally I recently discovered this album and have been enjoying this quite a bit (thank you Brad Shigeta for hipping me to this one...):

The interesting thing about playing with albums that don't have a drummer is that you can experiment with injecting your own ideas and stylistic interpretation without concerning yourself about identifying with the existing drummer on a particular track. Plus it's a great way to learn tunes, expand your repertoire and develop a "functional" approach to timekeeping (by observing the form of the tune, the melody, etc.)

Sometimes even just playing quarter notes on the ride cymbal along with one of these records will give your playing a real boost. Start simple and then add different parts of the drum set and layers of rhythmic complexity, all while trying to blend in with the "band."

For example, here's some interesting footage of Carl Allen playing along with a Gary Burton/Chick Corea duet and coming up with, I think, some pretty interesting conclusions:

A few other excellent drummer-less resources that I personally like to practice along with and highly recommend these days include:

- "Meet the Bass Player" by Allan Cox

- Any of Peter Erskine's play-along apps available for your iPhone or iPad:

- The play-along tracks that accompany the Steve Smith/Adam Nussbaum brush DVD "The Art of Playing with Brushes" are very good too:

And another thing: use your headphones but try to play along with all these resources while playing them through speakers too. You'll have to simplify, play really quiet and really focus on what you are playing along with. And that's a good thing!

So the next time you are wondering what to practice, put on a favourite recording and learn from the greats!

What are your favourite albums to play-along with?

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Another Afro-Cuban gem today, courtesy of the Remo drum head company:

And for the record, given my previous post from Monday, I'd like to hear Martinez and Jeff Watts join forces some day...

As you'll recall from previous posts, Pedrito did some great things teaming up with Steve Gadd a few years ago at PASIC 2012:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tain Up Close

Well now...thank's to the kind people over at Remo, here's some nice footage and very drum centric audio of Jeff "Tain" Watts performing, I think, with Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band:

Enjoy today's lesson. You're Welcome ; )