Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ed Thigpen on Brushes & A Lesson with Kenny Washington

More superb examples of brush playing brought to us today by the Master himself, Ed Thigpen:

These musical selections are excerpts from Thigpen's brush video "The Essence of Brushes" (also featuring Ron Carter on bass!) that was filmed as a companion to his instructional book "The Sound of Brushes". Thigpen's brush work with the Oscar Peterson Trio has always been a huge influence on me but I actually distinctly remember the first time that I saw this partiuclar video during the early 90s. One day I walked into the Long & McQuade store in Regina, Saskatchewan to purchase a pair of sticks or something and my good friend/store manager/local bassist Peter Dyksman pulled me aside, pointed to a monitor set up in the middle of the store and said: "Jon, now check THIS out!" So we ended up standing there and watching this video in its entirety right there in the middle of the sales floor! That moment really had a profound impact on me. Up to that point I had heard great drummers play the brushes, but this was the first time I had SEEN a great drummer play the brushes.

Incidently, I recently spent some quality time with Kenny Washington last week while he was in Calgary performing and teaching with baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and Ray Drummond on bass. In addition to a Sunday afternoon performance the band also spent four days giving workshops to some very lucky high school and university students.

Fortunately I was able to spend some considerable one-on-one time with Mr. Washington during his visit. When the topic of our lessons turned to his approach to brush playing, Kenny really stressed the importance of listening to great drummers play the brushes in order to get that distinctive SOUND ingrained in one's ear, thus influencing the conceptual and technical approach that you are aiming for.

While pointing to his forehead Washington commented: "You have to get the sound in the old dome, ya see?"

Specifically, these are the albums that Kenny described to me as being MUST have brush recordings to check out:


  1. Great info Jon, thanks! I have also had very instructive conversations with Kenny about brushes. He is a really inspiring educator and musician. I am definitely going to check out that Tommy Flanagan album.

  2. Thanks for this post! These videos are awesome! And I'm on to listen to those records! :)