Starting jazz band next school year, need advice on how to play jazz.

Snare

Member
I'm going into 11th grade in August and planning to join the school jazz band. Since I started band in 6th grade, aside from usual class and playing my set at home (few hours daily), I haven't had any instructors personally teach me. I think that I'm at the point where I can't get much more improvement without a teacher since I can play close to anything I'm given in less than a week. (mainly concert band and percussion ensemble pieces) I'd say they're about medium level, a grade 3 or 4 usually. Currently I'm searching for a teacher at the local community college. Most likely during the summer.

Until then, all advice regarding jazz sites, places where I can find sheet music for jazz, booklets, DVD's, online videos, etc. is appreciated.

Current skills: Advanced as far as snares, intermediate at concert toms, advanced at reading rhythms. I've only been playing the set for about 2 years, never live. I can play an intermediate rock/funk groove, basic latin and jazz beats with some standard fills (nothing amazing).
 

joshvibert

Senior Member
IMHO, the key to playing jazz is listening to it. Listen to as much as you can get your hands on (Miles Davis, Buddy Rich, etc...) Try to find out if it will be more combo jazz or big band swing. (There's a huge difference in what the drums do here). Your high hat going on the up-beat (2 & 4 for 4/4 time) is something to work on. You also might study some brush technique. All of that said, you'll mostly keep time and add pops/kicks to complement the music every 16 bars or so.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
can you get your hands on any recordings of your school's jazz band from the past? you could practice by playing along to those recordings with headphones. if you can't get any recordings, you could at least find out what tunes they've played and get the original recordings to play along to. maybe they could give you copies of charts too. when i was in school jazz band, reading from charts was a big part of it.
 

Cottontop

Senior Member
I'm going into 11th grade in August and planning to join the school jazz band. Since I started band in 6th grade, aside from usual class and playing my set at home (few hours daily), I haven't had any instructors personally teach me. I think that I'm at the point where I can't get much more improvement without a teacher since I can play close to anything I'm given in less than a week. (mainly concert band and percussion ensemble pieces) I'd say they're about medium level, a grade 3 or 4 usually. Currently I'm searching for a teacher at the local community college. Most likely during the summer.

Until then, all advice regarding jazz sites, places where I can find sheet music for jazz, booklets, DVD's, online videos, etc. is appreciated.

Current skills: Advanced as far as snares, intermediate at concert toms, advanced at reading rhythms. I've only been playing the set for about 2 years, never live. I can play an intermediate rock/funk groove, basic latin and jazz beats with some standard fills (nothing amazing).
Just remember to always keep time, because the worst thing that could happen is you get lost for a beat or two and everybody notices >.>. Don't try anything too complicated on stage because it's really not even worth the risk.

But like Josh said, one of the bes things to do is listen and play as musically as possible

I should actually be on my way to play at my school's jazz band concert in about an hour now :)
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Go out and get a copy of "April In Paris" by the Count Basie Orchestra with the great Sonny Payne on drums. Listen to how he swings that band. Pretty much everything you need to know about playing in a big band is on that CD.

For small combo playing get "Milestones" by Miles Davis with Philly Jo Jones on drums.

Between those two CDs you'll hear how it's done, alright. Apply what you hear and you're on your way.
 

Snare

Member
can you get your hands on any recordings of your school's jazz band from the past? you could practice by playing along to those recordings with headphones. if you can't get any recordings, you could at least find out what tunes they've played and get the original recordings to play along to. maybe they could give you copies of charts too. when i was in school jazz band, reading from charts was a big part of it.
I have original recordings to songs they've played saved away on my psp and sheet music for 2 of the songs (St. Thomas and Pick up the Pieces, couldn't really get St. Thomas that well).

I can play the basic licks for about half of the songs... not for the span of the entire song though, and if the tempo is somewhat fast, it's a little difficult to add in fills aside from hi-hat raises and sixteenth notes. I guess the main thing I'd need to work on is maintaining a steady beat for about 5 minutes or longer without the ride or bass slowing down.
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
playing jazz well does net necessarily mean playing blazingly fast triplet snare/bass drum patterns, a large portion of jazz is feel and dynamics

find a comfortable tempo with a good bit of head room and start swinging
(1 2 and 3 4 and ) really swing the (and) of 2 and 4 so that it would land on the (ah)
of 2 and 4 in strait time. the hi hat and ride cymbal should be the loudest part of the
beats, make sure that your ride pattern is nice and even, don't accent 1.

and i would stick with 8th note snare/bass drum patterns for now.

you can find 100's and 100's of beats at onlinedrummer.com click beats and filter
jazz
 

theuntitleddrummer

Senior Member
I'm the same boat but jazz is really all about feel and dynamics like others have said.
Think of it this way. You learned rock by copying some drum beats from rock tracks. Do the same for jazz.
Also, its good to remember for jazz you are accompanying the other players not taking center stage ( unless of a solo of course)
Have a good reading background, doenst have to be great because you are reading charts
but still its good just in case.

Best of luck. There's a vid of me playing jazz on my youtube. OH YEAH i forgot to mention, MAYBE they might play some latin, so learn some latin grooves, doesnt have to be too complex.

Hope you get in!
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Another quick jazz tip is to avoid slamming the bass drum on beat "1" so often like you might with rock and such. Jazz is more about the 2 & 4 than the 1 & 3.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Listen a LOT and play along. Try to cop the feel of the drummers you listen to. Start to feel what they feel and groove as they groove.
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
and always play your bass drum heal down, and make sure you release the batter from the drum head as quickly as you can so the bass drum resonates, don't dig the batter in to the head like you do in rock.
 

Snare

Member
playing jazz well does net necessarily mean playing blazingly fast triplet snare/bass drum patterns, a large portion of jazz is feel and dynamics

find a comfortable tempo with a good bit of head room and start swinging
(1 2 and 3 4 and ) really swing the (and) of 2 and 4 so that it would land on the (ah)
of 2 and 4 in strait time. the hi hat and ride cymbal should be the loudest part of the
beats, make sure that your ride pattern is nice and even, don't accent 1.

and i would stick with 8th note snare/bass drum patterns for now.

you can find 100's and 100's of beats at onlinedrummer.com click beats and filter
jazz
Thanks for the site. There's jazz as well as funk, rock, hip-hop, etc. beats that I've never heard or thought of playing.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I think that I'm at the point where I can't get much more improvement without a teacher since I can play close to anything I'm given in less than a week.
Be prepared to have your ass handed to you! :) In all seriousness, everybody gets their butt kicked at some point, so take it humbly when it happens.

In The Art of Bop Drumming by John Riley, the first few pages describe basic swing independence, which mere mortals cannot learn "just by playin', dude". So definitely learn that, for sure. If you can't figure it out, get a teacher. If that teacher can't play it the first time right away, get a new teacher! A similar text is Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer.

Playing a straight-ahead jazz or big band tune isn't about playing "fills", it's more about improvising within the style of the music ("comping"), and accentuating and/or "setting up" musical phrases that the ensemble plays together.

But also understand the structure of the music. A big band chart may have a tricky arrangement, but a Real Book tune is just the head chord changes, played over and over. Both cases are very different from the "verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus" structure found in rock and pop music. Buy a Real Book and, with a teacher, learn a few of the easier tunes. You might check out some of the Jaimie Abersold play-along material.

Have fun!
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
Here's a repost of one of my previous replies to a similar question.

Using your ears - Good!!!
It is very good to use your ears and pick up on what is going on in the ensemble. While a well written chart will supply almost all of the necessary information, it will not supply everything. You need to use your ears and listen for phrasings and any hits that may not be marked in your part. I will often go over to the lead trumpet part after a rehearsal and copy some important hits into my part. I may also take a look at the score for the same reason.

Ignoring the Chart - Bad!!!
I am assuming that you really don't disregard the chart. At least I hope you don't. Even a sketchy chart will have necessary information such as the road map, intro and endings, dynamics, and sections that are open for solos. Use the chart AND your ears and you will get a good result.

Something you did not mention:
Listening to Big Band Music and Big Band Drummers - Priceless!!!
Listen to as much big band music as you can. There is as big a difference between Sonny Payne and Mel Lewis as there is between Neil Peart and Dave Weckl.

Here are some to start with.

* Louis Bellson - As bandleader and with Duke Ellington
* Irv Cottler - with Frank Sinatra
* Peter Erskine - with Stan Kenton, Bob Mintzer, and Patrick Williams
* Sonny Greer - with Duke Ellington
* Jeff Hamilton - with Woody Herman the Clayton Hamilton Big Band
* Jake Hanna - with Woody Herman
* Jo Jones - with Count Basie
* Gene Krupa - as a bandleader and with Benny Goodman
* Buddy Rich - as band leader and with Tommy Dorsey
* Don Lamond - with Woody Herman and Quincy Jones
* Stan Levy - with Stan Kenton
* Mel Lewis - with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra
* Ray McKinley - with Glenn Miller
* Mo Purtill - with Glenn Miller
* Butch Miles - with Count Basie
* Sonny Payne - with Count Basie
* John Riley - with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Bob Mintzer
* Ed Soph - with Woody Herman
* Chick Webb - as bandleader
* Sam Woodyard - with Duke Ellington
* Steve Fidyk - with the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band and the Army Blues Jazz Ensemble


There are some great books on the subject by Steve Houghton (Studio and Big Band Drumming) and Steve Fidyk (Inside the Big band Drum Chart Book/CD/DVD). Morgan's Jazz Drummer's Reading Workbook is very good as is Ed Soph's Big Band Primer. Steve Houghton's Drummer's Guide to Reading Drum Charts (VHS) is very good too.

Seek out a teacher who is fluent in big band drumming to guide you though your progress.
Jeff
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
Thanks for the site. There's jazz as well as funk, rock, hip-hop, etc. beats that I've never heard or thought of playing.
no problem buddy, i always wander if www.onlinedrummer.com is a well kept secret?
honestly i learned latin because of the beats and sheet music on this site
they also have hundreds of full scores from top bands in every genre.
and its all free!!!
 
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