Need help with jazz

drum5

Junior Member
Hi all!

For me, my playing happens mostly in the pocket. I've drifted out of playing alt. rock and find myself to be playing funk. However, jazz seems to be most difficult for me. I have trouble playing light and reading the charts as I mostly play by ear. Also, when it comes time to solo, I typically fail miserably during my eight-bars.

Any suggestions?
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
I probably know as much information on jazz as you do at the most. I've stepped into that genre lately and I love it. It is very hard though...respect to all the jazz players out there! But I would suggest you learn how to read the charts. It has helped me a lot, to see exactly what to play for the measures and things. Good luck with it, because that's all I have on jazz, ha!
 

Ian Ballard

Silver Member
Hi all!

For me, my playing happens mostly in the pocket. I've drifted out of playing alt. rock and find myself to be playing funk. However, jazz seems to be most difficult for me. I have trouble playing light and reading the charts as I mostly play by ear. Also, when it comes time to solo, I typically fail miserably during my eight-bars.

Any suggestions?
You'll have to come back after you obsess yourself with the music for a while and immerse yourself in the scene for a while. You can't just "play jazz", just like a classical percussionist might not be able to sit in and play in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You have to pay some dues, attend open jams, study jazz theory, listen to years of jazz...

..there are no shortcuts.
 

DrummerDavid

Senior Member
I am a former hair metal drummer that wants to play jazz. I am going to start going to jazz clubs in the Atlanta area and emmerse myself in the genre. I also need to find some cats to play with.
 

chefmoonwalker

Junior Member
I can give you a few jazz pointers for beginners.

1. While you're first learning jazz, always, always, ALWAYS, keep the hi-hat going on two and four. The emphasis for rock/funk is bass/snare - but the emphasis for jazz is HH and ride. Be sure to keep the hi-hat going during trading fours or an eight bar break. The HH will be the anchor for you and the rest of the band.

2. Get the ride cymbal pattern down. Listen to Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, or your favorite jazz drummer and emulate their pattern. There are lots of drummers who have chops galore, but if their ride pattern doesn't swing, they're no fun to listen to at all. You've got to make sure it swings. Try playing it with no snare or BD, just HH and ride, and see if you can make it groove. That's the main focus.

3. Learn to play hits on your ride. Take the stick and hit it flat against the ride cymbal to play a hit. Try to get the most surface area of the stick on the cymbal as possible, don't merely crash it with the side of the stick like on a crash cymbal. You'll notice right away when you get the right sound. Hit the BD or snare at the same time for emphasis. I've noticed beginners get really messed up when they're trying to do fills like a rock drummer and crash with a different cymbal on 1. Keep playing the ride pattern and play hits on the ride cymbal. You'll instantly look and sound more like a pro.

4. Buy Jim Chapin's book, or Jon Riley's book, or any other jazz for beginners book and work on freeing up your left hand. Use the patterns in the book to give you independence between your hands. Once you aren't restricted as much with your left hand messing up your ride pattern or vice-versa, you'll have the freedom to make the music as musical as you know how. You won't be nearly as restricted by your lack of independence or technique. There is NO SHORTCUT to getting your hands independent. You just have to do it. Keep the ride cymbal pattern strong and don't change it when you're learning to fill in or comp with your left hand.

5. Repeat #4, but use your bass drum.

6. If you're having trouble with fills, you can always fall back on the press or buzz roll (same thing). The pros do it all the time because it sounds great. Be sure to keep the HH going, though!

When all is said and done... you have to listen, Listen, LISTEN! I'm personally a huge fan of Joey DeFrancesco's organ playing, and I've found many young drummers like it too. Lots of jazz novices find it accessible. His album with Joe Doggs is great to wade into the jazz listening arena.

Hope that helps!
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
Thanks for the tips Chefmoonwalker! I'll keep them all in mind! =]


I can give you a few jazz pointers for beginners.

1. While you're first learning jazz, always, always, ALWAYS, keep the hi-hat going on two and four. The emphasis for rock/funk is bass/snare - but the emphasis for jazz is HH and ride. Be sure to keep the hi-hat going during trading fours or an eight bar break. The HH will be the anchor for you and the rest of the band.

2. Get the ride cymbal pattern down. Listen to Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, or your favorite jazz drummer and emulate their pattern. There are lots of drummers who have chops galore, but if their ride pattern doesn't swing, they're no fun to listen to at all. You've got to make sure it swings. Try playing it with no snare or BD, just HH and ride, and see if you can make it groove. That's the main focus.

3. Learn to play hits on your ride. Take the stick and hit it flat against the ride cymbal to play a hit. Try to get the most surface area of the stick on the cymbal as possible, don't merely crash it with the side of the stick like on a crash cymbal. You'll notice right away when you get the right sound. Hit the BD or snare at the same time for emphasis. I've noticed beginners get really messed up when they're trying to do fills like a rock drummer and crash with a different cymbal on 1. Keep playing the ride pattern and play hits on the ride cymbal. You'll instantly look and sound more like a pro.

4. Buy Jim Chapin's book, or Jon Riley's book, or any other jazz for beginners book and work on freeing up your left hand. Use the patterns in the book to give you independence between your hands. Once you aren't restricted as much with your left hand messing up your ride pattern or vice-versa, you'll have the freedom to make the music as musical as you know how. You won't be nearly as restricted by your lack of independence or technique. There is NO SHORTCUT to getting your hands independent. You just have to do it. Keep the ride cymbal pattern strong and don't change it when you're learning to fill in or comp with your left hand.

5. Repeat #4, but use your bass drum.

6. If you're having trouble with fills, you can always fall back on the press or buzz roll (same thing). The pros do it all the time because it sounds great. Be sure to keep the HH going, though!

When all is said and done... you have to listen, Listen, LISTEN! I'm personally a huge fan of Joey DeFrancesco's organ playing, and I've found many young drummers like it too. Lots of jazz novices find it accessible. His album with Joe Doggs is great to wade into the jazz listening arena.

Hope that helps!
 

Dedworx

Senior Member
hi drum 5, for me, my jazz path was:

playing along to records, just focusing on the cymbal. hi hat on 2 and 4, and bass drum on all 4. - it helped me get comfortable with the cymbal feeling and playing at different tempos.

i used syncopations 8 exercises to free my hand and foot against the cymbal pattern. it also helped my reading.

- i did both above through the same time period, and added comping ideas as i developed

then bought john rileys books, the art of bop drumming and beyond bop drumming.

and now just more and more listening.

also i noticed today in the "syncopation" thread, guys were listing a lot of different ways to use the book for jazz playing. you might want to check it out.
 

spirit

Senior Member
For me jazz is a wonderful form- best trick I learned was to work the ride- that gives a great feel, other than playing straight, I mean accent the beats on the ride and use the left hand for triplets and squash rolls, doubles etc....just doing that alone can make for a great solo and some decent phrasing. I use the ride or Hi hat as the hub of the beat for jazz, for rock its the bass drum that I concentrate on as the hub, for latin the snare....think that way and you may find it works for you too!
Dont get hung up on what you cant do--concentrate on what your good at, listen to some great music- Buddy did it for me...The BEST TIP FOR LEARNING IS............swap your headphones over, left becomes right and suddenly the sound stage is from a drummers point of view- you can visualise whats happening in a fill or pic out the movement a lot better! Works like a charm with any practice- try that and you will make progress

Jazz drumming is an artform and often its as important to listen for the spaces in the beat, and the dynamics as it is to play a beat...adds real feel to what you do and often simple and precise is better

Good luck mate- I wish you well!
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Hi all!

For me, my playing happens mostly in the pocket. I've drifted out of playing alt. rock and find myself to be playing funk. However, jazz seems to be most difficult for me. I have trouble playing light and reading the charts as I mostly play by ear. Also, when it comes time to solo, I typically fail miserably during my eight-bars.

Any suggestions?
The touch required to play lightly with authority needs to be practiced just like anything else. Learning to read charts is not essential to jazz, but is an important skill to have.

As a beginner, focus on creating a swinging feel with the Ride Cymbal and Hihats, the rest will emanate from there. I recommend you start doing daily practice of a basic swing pattern on the RC with HH on 2&4 and feathering the bass drum on all four beats of the bar. Play it as lightly as you can manage. Most jazz players don't play the bass drum that way, but in the beginning it will help anchor your time. Start as slow as 40 BPM and count triplets aloud as you play - 1-trip-let 2-trip-let, etc. Your swing pattern should fall on beats 1, 2, the "let" of 2, 3, 4, and the "let" of 4. Get that into your bones and you'll find your feel will improve at performance tempos. If 40 twists your melon, try 60 - OR - set your metronome to 120 and assume each click is one note of an 8th note triplet.

Also - get yourself a copy of Meet The Bassplayer by Allan Cox. It's a series of excellent play-along tracks featuring just an upright bassist and guitar. They largely play 12 Bar Blues and 32 Bar Rhythm Changes at tempos ranging from 40 BPM to 300 BPM. It's a great way to practice getting the right feel, and will also act as a metronome for your practice. Additionally, you'll have the two most important jazz song forms imprinted on your brain forever more...

As for soloing, you don't need to do anything fancy. In fact, you needn't even come off the ride cymbal. Simply keep time and play whatever comping figures you are comfortable with on the snare, bass drum and toms. Note that Max Roach played a lot of great solos that way and that Bill Stewart often just keeps on chugging on the RC through extended solos. There is no shame in just keeping time...
 
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