Jazz - Swinging/Cookin'

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I like this conversation too, Andrew. I wonder about this a lot, maybe more than anything. In recent times I've been coming to think that "switching on" to play is not ideal, as opposed to striving to be in the zone 24/7 in daily life.

I'm not sure it's made sense for me to be slapdash and unfocused all day and then (hopefully) switch on for a few hours before returning to my usual sloppy, slapdash self. I think focus is the key, striving for clarity and never letting my ego drive the bus.

Easy peasy - all that's needed is to change the habits of a lifetime :)
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Pollyana I meant that in a general sense that your goal is to be able to achieve that feel at will rather than have it come as a random happening. Kelly thanks for your question. I would say yes that I experience the groove (for lack of a better term) on a regular basis. Please understand that I have been playing drums for 44 years and have had the good fortune to play with some exceptional musicians who helped me get to that place where I can "get there" more often than not. Frankly a lot of it came from experience and a growing maturity in my playing. As I mentioned, when you get to the point where you are not so concerned about WHAT you are playing but HOW you are playing it affords you the opportunity to concentrate more on what others are doing and sharing the musical experience.
Great conversation guys,

And I totally am with you on this Pete. I think the key thing that you mentioned is the idea of concentrating on what the other people in the band are doing. I would add that when I feel the most locked into the groove, I also feel as if I am just listening to myself.

This is a difficult experience to describe but it is as if I am no longer thinking about the music or what I am playing, I am just responding to my musical imagination in a completely uninhibited way. That is what I mean by "listening to myself".

When your playing feels more like listening than playing, you can get into this really swinging groove. I think every drummer (and musician generally) is trying to get into this mental space, but I agree that it is not something you can force. I do think it is something you can try to cultivate in your practicing, although it is extremely difficult.

One obvious thing to do is to just try grooving with records, one of my favorites is "Remember" on the album "Soul Station" by Hank Mobley (Blakey on drums). Obviously this kind of grooving is different than actually playing with other people, but I feel like if you can still get some of the feeling of just surrendering to the flow of the music from it.
 

Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
Pollyana I meant that in a general sense that your goal is to be able to achieve that feel at will rather than have it come as a random happening. Kelly thanks for your question. I would say yes that I experience the groove (for lack of a better term) on a regular basis. Please understand that I have been playing drums for 44 years and have had the good fortune to play with some exceptional musicians who helped me get to that place where I can "get there" more often than not. Frankly a lot of it came from experience and a growing maturity in my playing. As I mentioned, when you get to the point where you are not so concerned about WHAT you are playing but HOW you are playing it affords you the opportunity to concentrate more on what others are doing and sharing the musical experience.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thanks for that.

Wow, some lightbulbs fired when watching the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRjEpjd9S4&feature=relmfu is another good one I watched afterward. His way of thinking is VERY interesting... the instrument having internal time is a fascinating one. Different cymbals/drums/tunings would have different decay times so maybe to adapt that to the drum set we'd have to be able to adjust to new ones quickly... or maybe there's also a different internal time at play. Deep stuff. I wonder what his views on using metronomes are... lol.
Kelly, the way you were thinking seemed to be pointing to a Galper style solution :) Agree - that "minimising emotion" clip is great too. I had my eyes opened by the instrument's natural timing too.

Nothing like bit of inspiration to get things kick started. I can never recapture old moments of inspiration (although I might use some of ideas later). I always just keep plugging away, hoping for the next one. Never quite worked out how to get into the zone - to control it. The zone is boss and decides for itself when to turn up, at least for me ... so far ...

Great post, Pete. Wondering about this statement ... "Yes, it's easy to try too hard but don't stop trying" ... do you mean shooting for the same space as before (which I've long felt was futile) or to reach an equivalent space?
 

kellyB

Junior Member
I don't know the particulars but it just sound to me like you were deeply in the zone, deeper than you've been before.

Probably best not to try to replicate it but for each occasion to have its own zone, accepting that it's not always going to be peaches and cream.

I get the feeling you'd enjoy Hal Galper's masterclasses. This one's a killer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2XnB5G6oSc
Thanks for that.

Wow, some lightbulbs fired when watching the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRjEpjd9S4&feature=relmfu is another good one I watched afterward. His way of thinking is VERY interesting... the instrument having internal time is a fascinating one. Different cymbals/drums/tunings would have different decay times so maybe to adapt that to the drum set we'd have to be able to adjust to new ones quickly... or maybe there's also a different internal time at play. Deep stuff. I wonder what his views on using metronomes are... lol.

Recognizing that "you're there" is the first step. Yes, it's easy to try too hard but don't stop trying. That groove/pocket/swing that you're experiencing most often comes from an emotional connection between two players and expands from there. Sometimes it may be as simple as you and the bass player feeling a song very strongly and having the same emotional connection to that tune, you drag the piano player in and before you know the sax section or somebody else picks up on it. If you want to replicate that feeling I would encourage you to trust your own playing and not concentrate as much on your "parts" but focus on what that one other key player is doing. For rhythm section players it's most often the drummer and bass but maybe it's you and the guitar player, or you and the piano player. Listen to what that person is doing and think of how you two players are interacting. The hard part is to try not to force things but listen and respond to the subtle nuances of what is happening. This is where those elements like dynamics and phrasing are so important. I can almost guarantee that if the other player is competent they will instinctively respond to your efforts to play with them. In fact it's almost a childlike "play" that you will be experiencing. You and your "friend" are at play with each other and the rest of your friends will want to join because guess what...you're having fun.
At least that's the way I think of it.
An interesting way of summing things up. I can definitely relate to dragging sections/people in one by one now I think about it. Actually now that you mention it, the previous bass player used to have a strong connection to one of the tunes we've played recently and I began to feel it somewhat too, before he left. Every time we play that same tune with the new bass player I always find myself playing with the same connection to the piece that I would always feel when playing the old bass player. I know for sure that's affected the band before as I've heard comments made about that too. I guess I didn't make the same association as I did for the chart in the opening post for whatever reason. Perhaps it would be a good idea to start recording every time I play with a group, so I can relate my feeling while playing with how the music being produced feels/sounds to an audience.

Thanks to you both for your thoughts so far, it's hard to believe how much more I've made sense of since posting this thread.

Out of interest, do either of you frequently experience the zone/groove/pocket/swing? Or is it an entirely situational thing with little consistency.
 
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Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
Recognizing that "you're there" is the first step. Yes, it's easy to try too hard but don't stop trying. That groove/pocket/swing that you're experiencing most often comes from an emotional connection between two players and expands from there. Sometimes it may be as simple as you and the bass player feeling a song very strongly and having the same emotional connection to that tune, you drag the piano player in and before you know the sax section or somebody else picks up on it. If you want to replicate that feeling I would encourage you to trust your own playing and not concentrate as much on your "parts" but focus on what that one other key player is doing. For rhythm section players it's most often the drummer and bass but maybe it's you and the guitar player, or you and the piano player. Listen to what that person is doing and think of how you two players are interacting. The hard part is to try not to force things but listen and respond to the subtle nuances of what is happening. This is where those elements like dynamics and phrasing are so important. I can almost guarantee that if the other player is competent they will instinctively respond to your efforts to play with them. In fact it's almost a childlike "play" that you will be experiencing. You and your "friend" are at play with each other and the rest of your friends will want to join because guess what...you're having fun.
At least that's the way I think of it.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I don't know the particulars but it just sound to me like you were deeply in the zone, deeper than you've been before.

Probably best not to try to replicate it but for each occasion to have its own zone, accepting that it's not always going to be peaches and cream.

I get the feeling you'd enjoy Hal Galper's masterclasses. This one's a killer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2XnB5G6oSc
 

kellyB

Junior Member
I've only ever experienced a "cooking" rhythm section (and been aware of it) once. These are my thoughts after reflecting heavily upon the moment for a period of time.

It was a few weeks ago, playing with the same bass player in the same big band as I usually play in on a Tuesday night. All of a sudden, I found a 'slot' (by fluke I'm assuming) where the walking bassline and I were sitting perfectly together in the chart. It was a really strange experience... it was almost as if I could see/hear/feel exactly where the horn lines needed to sit in order to make the music swing. This was exciting and empowering in itself. Sure enough, others in the band locked into it, hitting their notes exactly where I was envisioning they should be.

It was such an amazing experience and afterward many were commenting on how hard it was swinging. Since then I haven't been able to find that same 'slot', and I think it's because I'm trying too hard. It's almost as if it's a huge catch - I want to do it again so badly because it truly felt amazing and I know that I'll observe something new about it each time which will make it easier to pull off the next time, yet I am 100% sure that it will be harder to do again if it's all I can think about. Relaxing into the music, I guess, is now the hardest thing for me to do.

"To swing is when an individual player or ensemble performs in such a rhythmically coordinated way as to command a visceral response from the listener (to cause feet to tap and heads to nod); an irresistible gravitational buoyancy that defies mere verbal definition." (http://www.jazzinamerica.org/JazzResources/Glossary/q/zz)

As a young drummer who's only just started to become more aware of the psychological side of music, all of this absolutely fascinated me. I suspect it's a form of being in the 'zone' and have been doing some reading/research into more, and what could trigger it. Surely there are others out there, far more experienced than I, who have felt something similar to this. For all I know, we didn't swing and it sounded like utter rubbish. For all I know, it was some seriously head-nodding jazz that we played that night.

A relevant video to me is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh15U2ore5E here. It's definitely cooking hard for me.

I hope this has made sense. The only one thing I regret about that night is not picking the brains of some of the other musos who were there and getting their views/feelings on it.

If any of you have any thoughts on what I've experienced or would like to share something remotely related of your own, please do. I'm eager to hear about it. I believe that no experience is 'wrong' - words do not have concrete meanings and will all mean slightly different things to different people. Feel free to shoot me down or criticize. I'd be interested in hearing back absolutely anything.

Cheers.
 
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