Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Years ago my teacher in Montreal, Chris McCann, gave me a cassette copy of "The Drums" featuring the great Jo Jones. This is an important resource for all Jazz drummers to listen to and study as Jones demonstrates his unique and highly swinging approach to the drumset while as discussing (and imitating!) some very obscure drummers, influences and techniques on the drums.
If you don't own this yet and you are serious about Jazz drumming, you should probably get it.
One part that really got my attention, in particular, is the portion where Jones talks about the influence of the great tap dancers on the development of his own playing style. I was very intrigued by this and I've blogged a bit before about this important relationship between tap dancing and Jazz drumming (with a shout of course out to Mike Tarrani who has also addressed this as well over at his fine blog Music for Drummers). Tap dancing (and dancing, period!) had a tight-knit relationship with early developments of Jazz drumming and the two influenced each other, hand-in-hand. While most of the great Jazz drummers that we listen to and admire were fully aware and immersed in this, this notion seems mostly lost of most of today's generation of Jazz drummers and Jazz musicians (with many exceptions however!)
In particular, over the course of the recording of "The Drums" Jo Jones cites the influence of a hoofer by the name of Baby Laurence as someone who had a huge influence on his own particular approach to dealing with rhythm on the drums.
See here for a clip of Laurence in his later years giving Sammy Davis Jr. a run of his money!
I was interested to learn more about this important tap dancer and his wicked approach to rhythm. Fortunately for us here's a documentary on the life of Baby Laurence "The Jazz Hoofer" to check out: