Monday, July 27, 2020

Jazz Drums Around the World Wide Web

Never before in the history of the world has there been so much information available to us so readily. In particular, the internet currently offers a plethora of great resources to learn about jazz drumming. Given our current circumstances, we now have the luxury of conveniently accessing a lot of great rhythmic information via the web and we are able to connect directly with many great jazz drummers from all over the world via social media, YouTube and a variety of on-line platforms.

Personally I've been trying to use these means myself on an on-going basis lately and I encourage everyone to take advantage of these learning opportunities currently offered to us.

Here is my completely subjective list of online jazz drumming resources that I continually return to for motivation, inspiration and information these days:

- Chris Smith is always up to great things via his on-going YouTube series The Drum Hang:

His topics are excellent, relevant and his explanations are always very concise and clear. I always learn something every time I tune into his latest episode (Chris plays his ass off too!)

Chris will soon be launching his own dedicated, subscription-based platform Jazz Drum Hang and I look forward to learning from what will certainly be another great jazz drumming resource on the web.

- Justin Varnes is one of most prolific jazz drumming teachers on the web via his platform and companion YouTube channel The Jazz Drummer's Resource.

Justin's archive of lessons is extensive and covers a lot of very practical subject matter. He's also a really great player and articulate teacher who draws a lot of his material directly from his own playing experience and from recordings of the great jazz drummers.

Justin recently had to offer these words about what's currently happening at JDR:

2020 brought a new round of "52 Licks" on YouTube, a new platform, new studio, guest instructors, and a focus on more individual help as opposed to just loading up video after video. 

Speaking of videos, there are 300 video lessons on the site now, broken down into categories and tags so it's easy to find what you're looking for. The two most useful features of the site are Courses and "What to Work On." Courses help you keep track of your progress (you can also mark lessons as "Watched" or save them for later in your "My Account" section)

Some of the most recent courses include "Continuous 8th's" - a set of vocabulary that lets you flow continuously through ideas, ala a bebop horn solo, "Big Band" - chart reading, common figures and setups, and flexible fill and setup vocabulary, and "Upping Your Tempo"- a 12-part course in the techniques, vocabulary, and comping exercises to play faster, all done by going up the metronome 10 clicks at a time. 

The "What to Work On" page allows subscribers to reach out to me with what they'd like help with. Then we work to create a practice plan (with lessons on the site, or stuff I create for them) so they can stay focused and see results. 

The goal is not just to host a bunch of lessons. The goal is to be your online teacher.

- I often revisit New York's Jochen Rueckert's 10 part instructional video series. These are very well produced and offer great explanations and insights from a drummer who is well immersed in the New York contemporary jazz scene.

For more information, check out his website.

Here is Rueckert's summary of the ten videos in his series:

This first episode focuses on improving your general time, swing time feel, feathering the bass drum and has some tips on playing fast.

This second episode contains pretty much everything I have to say about playing brushes.

This third episode is a collection of things I hear people do all wrong, over and over...

This fourth episode focuses on the way I like to practice improvising and soloing.

This fifth episode focuses on everything connected to touch and sound, including ways I hold a stick, where I hit a cymbal, but also what cymbals and sticks I use, for example.

This sixth episode focuses on getting comfortable in odd meters like 5/4 and 7/4 as well as more composite time signatures, like 15/8.

This seventh Episode offers some thoughts on how to interact in a band, some tips on playing in 2, and how to navigate original music.

This eighth episode outlines my general influences as a composer (especially besides jazz music) and offers some thoughts about four of my songs from "We Make the Rules" including Alloplasty, Yellow Bottoms, Saul Goodman, and Pretty From Afar.

This ninth episode focuses on my background and analysis of four songs off of my album Charm Offensive including Purring Excellence, 5-Hydroxytryptamine, Stretchmark, Charm Offensive, as well as Hayden Chisholm's arrangement of "Just friends" from my very first album "introduction".

This tenth episode focuses on answering the question : "Who are your greatest influences as a drummer?" I discuss all of the ones that made a big impact on me, especially when I was in my early 20's, try to explain why, and give listening examples. The email that you will get from the store will have a list of each drummer's records that I listened to a lot.

- Falk Willis' Jazz Heaven.com offers an extensive collection of informative lessons and masterclasses with a variety of contemporary jazz Masters.

There is so much great information to be found here in this well-curated platform.

In addition to this amazing instructional series, Jazz Heaven also offers a weekly webinar series that features a who's who of the contemporary jazz scene.

Also new is the JazzHeaven Community https://community.jazzheaven.com/ which has been described as "Facebook for Jazz". It looks like a great resource and place to share knowledge, ask questions, post videos/audio/images, etc. And there is also the option to hop on instant Zoom-style video group chats with others.

Falk has been working very hard on this over the past 10 years or so and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the great information and access to the Masters that he's compiled here.

- I've subscribed to several great video lessons from My Music Masterclass over the past couple of years from the likes of Mike Clark, Charles Ruggiero, Rakalam Bob Moses, Louis Hayes, Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss. I think we are very fortunate to be able to learn from great drummers like this!

- Open Studio is an amazing resource for jazz musicians and jazz drummer's in particular, featuring a variety of in-depth lesson packages with the likes of Greg Hutchinson, Ulysses Owens Jr. and Brazilian drummer Edu Ribeiro.


- I've heard great things about both Peter Erskine's Artistworks platform and Stanton Moore's Drum Academy from other drummers. I don't have experience with these myself, however judging from what I have seen via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. and from clinics I've attended in the past, these guys are both really great teachers. These are a couple of resources I'll be checking out in the future for sure.

- I haven't really checked out the Patreon platform yet but from all accounts both Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss are both worth serious consideration. Hoenig and Weiss are both serious students of the instrument and expanding the lexicon of jazz drumming through their advanced considerations of rhythm.

- Oh yes, and apparently the one and only Geoff Clapp will have his own lesson platform up and running starting this fall, so keep an eye out for that one for sure! (Check in at his web page https://geoffclapp.podia.com for updates)

- And finally, no day on my laptop is complete without checking in on my two favourite jazz drumming blogs: Todd Bishop's exceptional Cruise Ship Drummer and Ted Warren's Trap'd.

Both of these dedicated bloggers keep me musically & rhythmically grounded on a daily basis, with plenty of things to think about and practice.

Check out this wonderful recent blog post of Ted's entitled The Joy of Practice.

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