Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday with Farnsworth

Joe Farnsworth is one of my favorite contemporary Hard Bop Jazz drummers around these days. His hard-driving swing, timeless respect for the tradition and impeccable chops always make him an exciting drummer to watch. Many times I've sat at the bar at Smoke in New York and come away impressed and inspired by his playing.

In fact, on my first album "McCallum's Island" the track "Finding Farnsworth" (based on the changes to Cherokee) was inspired by Farnsworth's hard swinging style and great playing on his album "Beautiful Friendship":

Here is a series of clips of Farnsworth doing his thing using a very minimalist drum set without any toms, floor tom or extra cymbals. Notice how effectively he uses his vocabulary and really makes the drums "speak" while using both sticks and brushes regardless of his less-is-more set-up:

I think it's always good practice to sometimes leave the toms and extra cymbals at home and really focus on the basics...You'd be surprised as to how hard that really is! You'll also notice that Farnsworth's command of his rudimental vocabulary and use of accents within his phrases really allow him to come up with some interesting ideas, so we don't really miss those tom toms at all, I think.

For a taste of Joe playing with a band (and another fine example of how a good drummer can really "drive the bus"!) here is Joe from a hit last year at the Cellar in Vancouver with the group "One For all" on the Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo tune "Manteca" demonstrating his fine Afro-Cuban chops as well:

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