Monday, October 15, 2012

The Yardbird 6/8

A couple of weekends ago while I was performing with the Tom Van Seters Quintet up at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, Alberta (by far one of Canada's BEST Jazz clubs - Period) my good friend and saxophonist Jeremiah McDade asked me about a particular pattern that I played during some extended vamp-like 3/4 sections of Tom's compositions. If you'll recall, David Braid asked me a similar question last summer with regards to another pattern in 12/8 that I like to play, but this particular one is quite different.

The tune (entitled "The Long View" and composed by pianist Tom Van Seters and found his fine album of the same name, featuring some great drumming from Paris-based drummer Karl Jannuska) is basically played with a broken 3/4 swing feel. However, at the end of the form the groove changes up and I found myself implying some kind of triplet-based Afro-Cuban groove that looks something like this:

I've written this in 6/8 but it's obviously interchangeable in 3/4 as well. Admittedly, I was inspired to come up with a pattern like this from listening to Jeff Ballard come up with his own interesting 6/8 and 12/8 variations.

These are the two variations I found myself commonly playing with my feet. As you can see, the bass drum is clearly playing dotted quarter notes, emphasizing the 6/8 feel while the hi-hat is playing a Viennese style waltz pattern in 3/4:

This next foot variation further emphasizes the 3/4 quarter note on the hi-hat along with the dotted quarter note in the bass drum:

You'll notice that the bass drum playing dotted quarter notes really reinforces the phrasing of the cymbal rhythm with the right hand.

Now here's a slightly more complicated version of the initial hand/drum pattern, whereas the left hand plays a busier part between the drums:

This pattern was definitely inspired by many of the patterns I've found in Billy Martin's amazing book "Riddim: Claves of African Origin" (and there's surely some Edward Blackwell in there too!)

Now, if you break down just what the hands are doing, to me it resembles some sort of Swiss Army Triplet but given where the flam and accents lie, it's not a straight forward Swiss Army Triplet.

I've notated it like this:

As best as I can tell, I would call this an "Inverted" Swiss Army Triplet. It's got an interesting feel to it and when you put it together it gives the overall drum set pattern some really interesting layers.

My only regret is that I didn't bring my cowbell with me to Edmonton as I think these patterns would lend themselves well to a cowbell part.

Oh well, there's always next time (and thanks for asking Miah!)

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