Incredible funk/fusion chops and licks in simple R&B Songs


Senior Member
I saw a friend's band last night. Four piece: female singer/bass/drums/guitar. They were doing a mix of R&B, Funk, blues, etc. Wonderful players, and the bass player and drummer have played with nationally known acts, or with players who HAVE played with nationally known acts.
The drummer had amazing, funky technique. What was interesting to me was the way he displayed it.

For example, they did Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Making Love." But in a more funky, fusion-y way, if that makes sense. It was mostly the drummer. He would do syncopated bass drum patterns, syncopated fills, licks, etc. The best was I can describe this is that he was doing stuff that sounded like Keith Carlock solo licks, or Dave Weckl, or Garibaldi licks all over the place in simple songs. Not constantly, but quite a lot. I've seen this kind of thing done, maybe at the END of a song, during the "sustain" type ending. But I've never quite seen this done so much throughout otherwise simple songs.

This was done in other songs too like "Mustang Sally", the Rascals' "Grooving", etc.

I was wondering if the drummer was simply bored. This was a high class bar/restaurant where people were drinking and eating. I was kind of wondering how the singer liked this. I mean again, in "Feel Like Making" love...all of a sudden BAM! An incredible funky syncopated fill that would like it it was something out of a fusion band or something.

I couldn't decide if it was adding to the band. I've just never seen this done to this degree. I've seen guys who COULD play like this, like Steve Gadd, play simple music and restrain themselves, and maybe do this stuff on their solo.

As a drummer, I found it interesting to listen to, and the drumming was incredibly impressive. I just wondered about the context. Have you guys seen this kind of thing?
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Platinum Member
I have no problem at all with guys in bands making a cover there own by playing it differently. The band I am in do it all the time. I am a funk/rock kind of player. The bassist is a straight funk/slap player, the guitarist is an ex R n B player but now plays in a Jazz style, and the keys guy is a Blues player.
We all bring our own styles to the party and change songs as we feel, but not to the detriment of the vocals.

The drummer in that band made you take notice of songs that could have ended up as background music.


Platinum Member
I've worked with drummers who can do this while still keeping the groove in the forefront. Lots of linear licks that mostly sound like different patterns, even when it's some 5 over 4 thing. No problem with that. It's when folks destroy the groove trying to do the same thing that I call 15 yard penalties.


Platinum Member
As long as you keep the pocket, you can more or less do what you want if you don't step over everyone else's feet


Senior Member
I am a funky drummer trapped in a rock band. Here's what I do and my approach.

I will take songs like What I Got from Sublime and funk them up. BUT, not the whole time. I will build it in sections. By the 3rd chorus I will hit up some double and triples with the kick drum and on the way out, I may toss in some groovy linear fills. This way, the song is still played recognizably, I don't butcher the whole thing, I don't step on others toes throughout, and I get to put my 'stamp' on the song.

I do the same thing with our Sweet Home Alabama/Werewolfs of London/Summertime medley. I keep the same basic beat going for all three song parts but I add 'rock fills' in Sweet Home, funk fills in Werewolves, and linear fills in Summertime (much like the record). So, I "change" the song according to style but never the groove so the audience feels like it's one big, continuous piece.

There are plenty more examples where I can play one fill and blow chops in one song just for me and stick to the script for the rest of the song. Usually, a fun lick is enough to keep me happy, get a nod of approval from a bandmate and keep the song tight.

Respect the music but have fun too.