Following one of the big band concerts I performed in a few weeks ago up at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan as part of the UofS Kenderdine Jazz Composers Retreat (see my previous post), Canadian pianist David Braid came up to me afterwards and asked me if I would explain to him a particular pattern that I had played several times over the course of the evening.
Several of the compositions and arrangements we played (including a drum solo on one of my very own big band compositions) used this stock 12/8 Afro-Cuban pattern that has been part of my vocabulary for nearly twenty years now. The hand patterns look something like this:
This is one of many 12/8 Afro-Cuban types of patterns that I commonly use and was initially inspired by things I heard from Art Blakey and Elvin Jones.
Now there are several variations that I commonly use for the feet patterns. This is the most common one that uses a big downbeat played on the bass drum with beats 2 & 4 on the hi-hat:
This is one is basically the same as the last but uses an anticipation on the very last eighth-note, played on the bass drum:
This next variation gives the whole pattern a more overt two-feel:
I find this pattern really can drive an ensemble and creates some nice poly-rhythmic forward momentum:
I picked up this variation from Art Blakey (although he might play the basic hand pattern on the drums slightly different that I do) and it creates a nice sort-of lopsided double-time feel:
I often have a lot of fun with this last one as it implies a cool Max Roach 3/4 "The Drum Also Waltzes" vibe underneath the 12/8 bell pattern (I'd like to thank Jeremy Jones, a great drummer from Seattle, Washington for showing me this pattern many years ago following a gig at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C.)