A Round Table of Greats

WhoIsTony?

Member
here is an interesting conversation about drummers playing 4 on the floor

the drummers involved in the discussion are

Elvin Jones
Joe Morello
Mel Lewis
Cozy Cole
Shelly Manne
Nick Ceroli
Art Blakey
Donald Dean
Tony Williams

and for the record I agree with everything Tony says ..... while reading this it sounds a bit to me like most of those guys are in the dark ages and Tony is living in the future

amd Elvin probably puts it best when he says ...

" Learn how to play the bass drum! Everything that is included in the drumset is there for a purpose and should be learned. Whether you use it consistently or not, you should know how to use it."


interesting read

http://jonmccaslinjazzdrummer.blogspot.com/2009/05/downbeat-jazz-drummers-round-table-1964.html
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I can't believe this interview exists. Just the fact that all those players were in a room together to talk about something like this kind of blows my mind. 1964! Funny, because that was Tony bursting on the scene, changing everyone's minds.

Obviously, after Klook, the bass drum stopped being the focus of the time, and that was way before this interview, so it's not like this discussion was taking place back in the time of Chick Webb or something. It was already commonplace for the bass drum to be used for dropping bombs, etc. But you can tell that the older cats still found a place for feathering quarter notes, but Tony not so much.

I have mixed feelings. I don't think anyone expects feathering anymore. But it's more felt than heard and I believe it can still work in some situations. I don't usually do it, but I've tried it in some situations and I think some cats do like it, without even realizing that's what's happening.

My big takeaway from this interview, though, is this: There's more than one way to skin a cat. Thank goodness for variety.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I can't believe this interview exists. Just the fact that all those players were in a room together to talk about something like this kind of blows my mind. 1964! Funny, because that was Tony bursting on the scene, changing everyone's minds.

Obviously, after Klook, the bass drum stopped being the focus of the time, and that was way before this interview, so it's not like this discussion was taking place back in the time of Chick Webb or something. It was already commonplace for the bass drum to be used for dropping bombs, etc. But you can tell that the older cats still found a place for feathering quarter notes, but Tony not so much.

I have mixed feelings. I don't think anyone expects feathering anymore. But it's more felt than heard and I believe it can still work in some situations. I don't usually do it, but I've tried it in some situations and I think some cats do like it, without even realizing that's what's happening.

My big takeaway from this interview, though, is this: There's more than one way to skin a cat. Thank goodness for variety.
for me personally it is a tempo thing and a vibe thing

for a more traditional blues or a straight up standard I find that most of the time I am feathering without even thinking about it .... still dropping bombs if I feel the urge .... but within the feathering

but if I am playing with some cats who are testifying... I play a whole lot more free with a whole lot less marked time

I have actually met very few bass players that felt one way or another about it at all
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
Lewis: Here is an important thing about bass drums, about using it. I've heard a lot of groups where the drummer isn't playing the bass drum; he's just depending on cymbals, and not playing too much hi hat and you've got a bass player---he's gonna start moving. He's gonna start driving. So he starts on top, and the tempo starts to skate a little bit. And I hear the drummer go right along with him. All of a sudden the tempo leaps ahead. There's the time to start playing the bass drum a little bit. Hold it back, hold it where it was. Especially if that tempo is grooving-why change it? That's where I think I need all of your facilities. That's what Art was talking about before. Showing them where it is.
I liked this insight by Mel...wow, what an interview!
 

fakeflyer737

Senior Member
I really like this quote;

Blakey: Whatever groove is stomped off, I think it should end it --- you're not a metronome - but you should end it as close to the original temp as possible, and you should be swinging.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Nothings changed, there's people who have and can play in time and there's others who struggle with it. The drummer's job (if there is one) really is babysitter, its to read those inconsistencies and adjust to make the song/band sound good.

The good players/bands have members with a great sense of time, then its easy, fun, not a job and the listener(s) can sense it.

Manne: That's right. It is like the stick that bends. You've got to give and take. You can still play time, but you've got to slow down and speed up a little. I don't mean speed up and slow down so that somebody can say, “Oh my God, he's slowing down,” but it is kind of like a feeling that you give and take, like when the brass starts shouting
.




Cole: Duke Ellington's band-do you know that brass section can swing? Those fellows come out there and they start swinging themselves. They don't need any drums.
Williams: this is one of the reasons why I enjoy listening to the avant gardehorn players. When I hear them on records, no matter what's happening, they're straight ahead. They're not turning around saying “I wonder what's happening?” they're not worried about that. They're just playing.
As in- They don't need a babysitter, they all have a well developed sense of time.
 
These 2 quotes don´t beat around the bush! Mr. Williams knocked down the walls ahead of time...

1.
Williams: Well what I am trying to say ---well, the way I have been playing is that the beat is there, but I have been playing it with the cymbal, because it still swings.

2.
Williams: When I hear the hi hat being played on 2 and 4, through every solo, through every chorus, through the whole tune, this seems to me to be ---I can't play it like that. Chit, chit, chit chit -all the way through the tune. My time is on the cymbal and in my head, because when I play the bass drum, I play it where it means something. I just put it in. When a person plays this way, they don't play the bass drum, they don't play the hi hat-well, they say they're playing something free-that word is a drag too. What makes it different is that they don't have any bottom.

By the way, Thank you so much for sharing 4/floor: WhoIsTony?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Wow, that's a great piece. Makes me feel a little naughty for not playing regular time with the bass drum (I like that they say play and not feather), but I guess we all have to make our own judgments about what works for us, and live with them. I think if you're listening and are focused on the groove, you'll automatically put in enough drums along with the cymbal to make it swing appropriately for the style the group is playing.

My feeling is that playing the type of music Nick Ceroli was playing in 1964 is today really playing a historical style. Playing swing time in 4 over a walking bass is not 90% of the job, the way it was then. We actually have some different grooves to draw from, and some freedom in how we orchestrate the percussion. Like, there's no law that all music must have a full battery playing behind it at all times-- bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals.

Incredible that Tony was just 17 or 18 then. Of course the others were only in their ~30s.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Great interview. I am with Tony Williams, once the count in is done that is the tempo of the music.

Also, what about space? Filling up the music with bass drum leaves no room for the music to breathe. When playing, my favorit bass players are the ones who work as a groove team, leaving space for each other. I am always conscious of not walking all over the bass part.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Great interview. I am with Tony Williams, once the count in is done that is the tempo of the music.

Also, what about space? Filling up the music with bass drum leaves no room for the music to breathe. When playing, my favorit bass players are the ones who work as a groove team, leaving space for each other. I am always conscious of not walking all over the bass part.
totally agree

once the tune is counted off the time is released into the room and if someone behind an instrument cannot hop aboard and ride that wave I have zero desire to create music with them
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
I seem to recall reading an interview with Max Roach where he said that the disappearance of the bass drum in jazz had less to do with stylistic choices, and more to do with changes in recording techniques and mic placement which impacted the ability to register the bass drum. People listening to those recordings would "copy" the technique by wrongly assumning the bass drum was essentially gone.

Max said something like "I had to carry that huge drum for gigs while traveling on the subway, so I damned well better find a way to use it!"
 
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