Monday, November 30, 2009
Ralph Peterson Jr.
I've been a long time admirer of the powerhouse drumming of Ralph Peterson Jr. A disciple of Art Blakey and currently a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Peterson has been a force in jazz since the 1980s (leading such groups as his "Fo'Tet") and represents an aggressive and no-holds-barred approach to jazz drumming.
I was particularly intrigued by the first clip below. In this solo, notice Peterson's extensive use of "rudimental" snare drum vocabulary. In fact, I think he's just playing a snare and bass drum shared with a couple of cymbals. He really explores rhythm using a limited amount of sound sources very well and swings hard !
As a teacher, I understand that he has his students study the Alan Dawson "Rudimental Ritual" exercise religiously and I think that it comes across quite beautifully in his playing here:
As you'll notice, Peterson hits the drums quite hard and with a lot force but still manages to get a great sound out of the drums - this is hard and requires a lot finesse ! I was reminded of another great jazz drummer, "Philly Joe Jones", who was also a real student of snare drumming and of applying the rudiments to the drum set. In fact, "Philly" was renowned for his use of the Charlie Wilcoxin book "Rudimental Swing Solos for the Modern Drummer". Pay attention to the motion of Jones' snare drum playing on this clip of him playing with Bill Evans and Marc Johnson:
Anyways, the lesson I get from watching Peterson and Jones play like this is the motion of their strokes. Generally I try to keep my hands closer to the snare drum, but when you want to play out and get a bigger sound from your instrument, I think these two examples show how to do it. Nice and loose with a big motion and, consequently, a big fat sound coming out of the drum.
Quite the Impact !
Here are a few more clips of Ralph Peterson Jr. doing his thing:
(of course showing off his beautiful Bosphorus cymbals !!!)