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-   -   John Riley (http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11392)

TheSteve 04-26-2006 01:28 AM

John Riley
 
Great teacher, great player. Wrote Art of Bop and Beyond Bop not to mention others. Awesome player with great feel and knowledge. I hope to study with him in a year. What does everyone else think?

Stu_Strib 04-26-2006 10:09 AM

Re: John Riley
 
That would be great to study with him.

I like his first book a lot. I just wish it had more comping exercizes and less space for coming up with your own ideas (I'm not original enough yet).

I looked at his Beyond.. book Saturday and it looks great.

Other than that though, I've only ever seen the one clip on here of him.

Mediocrefunkybeat 04-26-2006 10:16 AM

Re: John Riley
 
I've just started the Art of Bop Drumming this week and am struggling with the independence and keeping the jazz ride going. It's very very well written and the playing on the CD's is truly superb. A great educator with a very good command of English. I must say I'm rather impressed by the book as a whole and if I knuckle down to it then I know I'll learn a lot.

Casper "DrPowerStroke" Paludan 04-26-2006 02:51 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat
I've just started the Art of Bop Drumming this week and am struggling with the independence and keeping the jazz ride going. It's very very well written and the playing on the CD's is truly superb. A great educator with a very good command of English. I must say I'm rather impressed by the book as a whole and if I knuckle down to it then I know I'll learn a lot.

If I were you I would spend a lot of time with Chapin's book before goiing into Riley's. If you are learning about "basic" independence" (it's not basic at all!), the important thing is to really understand the movements as you play the ride pattern with full, up, and down strokes. Mix that with the written snare pattern with accents, and you have a serious challenge. It's what I am working on right now...anyway, just trying to help by giving unsolicited advice. DPS

Mediocrefunkybeat 04-26-2006 03:30 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Thanks Doc. I hadn't given Chapin's book a thought, when I get into some money I'll definately give it some serious consideration. The problem I have is internalising the pattern, I can quite easily play the ride pattern. My tendency is though that as soon as I start any comping on the snare it either switches to a standard triplet shuffle or a straight 8, without me even realising.

Very frustrating. My independence has always been my downfall.

jonescrusher 04-26-2006 03:57 PM

Re: John Riley
 
I got the Art of Bop Drumming yesterday, and i'd say it's one of the best instructional books i've seen, brilliantly and concisely written, and covers a range of concepts not just exercises. I agree with DPS, you need to get the correect combination of strokes on the ride pattern to be able to internalise it and get it swinging from beat 1. as Riley says in the book, just play time for 10-15 mins as a warm up.

Casper "DrPowerStroke" Paludan 04-26-2006 04:34 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Yes, it is a great book. Lately, I have just become obsessed with playing where I am at, and not trying to overreach: On the pad, I don't go for speed as much anymore, because Dom Famularo told me that neither he nor many of his pro buddies practice speed per se; they practice endurance and control. So for instance, the pumping motion (Moeller). I play this for 30 minutes, but the goal used to be to eventually break my own record, even if I could only hold it for a couple of seconds. I assumed that at lower speeds I could keep it going forever. But now I go to a lower tempo, and keep doing that for 10 minutes. It has already helped me discover new facility and relaxation, and I know this will translate into speed, because the hands just feel better.

Same thing with the ride beat. One can argue what is the most important instrument on the drum kit in jazz, but certainly the ride cymbal is a powerful driving force in the music. As Steve Smith says, in(ter)dependence is not about being able to play a lot of disjointed melodies, it is about the ride "playing itself" to allow you to play other stuff on the snare and other instruments. This takes years. The ride pattern that Riley talks about is a series of up, down, and full strokes. So, if you haven't played the free stroke a lot, your ride won't sound so good. If your control strokes are not developed, the skip not won't be skipped so well, and the overall feeling will suffer. And people will feel it.

Now, how do you then learn the ride pattern: by taking a year or two to get the strokes right individually. Of course, this will quickly help all aspects of your drumming in all styles, but the point is: just playing the ride pattern for a long time only helps if you are there. If you are not, go back. Don't worry about independence, don't worry about the ride pattern, learn * the * strokes.

When I say "you" above, I am speaking mostly to the "me" of three years ago, by the way. I had been playing for 20 years before taking the step back, so I am probably the guiltiest person in the room. DPS

Henry II 04-26-2006 04:48 PM

Re: John Riley
 
John Riley writes some of the most over-the-top, ridiculously difficult exercises for MD. I give up on most of them.

Mediocrefunkybeat 04-26-2006 05:16 PM

Re: John Riley
 
DPS thanks a lot for your excellent advice. My temptation is still going to be to jump in right there but you have really given me something to think about. Jones, I agree with you, it's a great book. Maybe I'm just not up to the level where I should be attempting it. Thank you all for your advice.

TheSteve 04-27-2006 12:49 AM

Re: John Riley
 
When I first got that book and also the Chapin, I had huge problems with my ride. Taking it as slow as you can will go a long way. Yeah, you'll feel like a loesr at first but you'll see big changes. But seriously, taking it slow will let you figure out when your left hand lines up with your right. I have been working on both books for about a year now and it's just now getting to be natural to me. Study those comping pages like crazy though. It'll really improve your playing.

Mediocrefunkybeat 04-27-2006 12:52 AM

Re: John Riley
 
Thanks for your advice Steve. Slow and considered it is. And I will feel like a loser but in the end, the loser is the guy who tries to do what he isn't capable of and fails ultimately.

theduke86 04-27-2006 03:46 AM

Re: John Riley
 
John Riley is fantastic.... I have to say, he used to play a little more energetic when he was younger. He's intellectualised it, normally that makes me angry but with guys like Erskine, Riley, Stewart it just comes off sounding extremely hip.
Watch out for Comp Example #4 in Bop drumming... Until you can get that perfectly consistent at 40-220 bpm, you can't play it yet

danielheier 04-27-2006 06:09 AM

Re: John Riley
 
I LOVE HIS BOOKS AND PLAYING. His books are loaded with so much information. What I love is, he kind of gives you a start on what to listen for and practice with transcriptions, but the rest is up to you. He gives great listening lists. His books are by far the best to study from for bop and post-bop drumming. I also love all of the quotes he has in his books!

dizkneelande 06-16-2006 04:06 AM

Re: John Riley
 
his books are what jumpstarted my jazz playing. i got to meet him in memphis when he did a trio class and a concert with the vangaurd jazz orchestra. afterwards i got to talk to him and he is absolutly the nicest bro ever! he told me the most important thing is the comping lines so i work on those almost every day. he's wicked sweet!

dizkneelande 06-16-2006 04:10 AM

Re: John Riley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat
Thanks Doc. I hadn't given Chapin's book a thought, when I get into some money I'll definately give it some serious consideration. The problem I have is internalising the pattern, I can quite easily play the ride pattern. My tendency is though that as soon as I start any comping on the snare it either switches to a standard triplet shuffle or a straight 8, without me even realising.

Very frustrating. My independence has always been my downfall.

what really helped me is puting on my metronome and playing with the jazz ride pattern for extended periods of time. count out the beats of the ride pattern also.

T.L. 06-16-2006 04:27 AM

Re: John Riley
 
MFB,

Great choice getting the book.... Take your time with it and the comping will become second nature -- play those comping exercises really slow and work up your speed with a metronome.....Start at 55BPM or so and work the speed up from there....It's all about getting your muscles to memorize the patterns -- and remember, learning to play SLOW is a good thing. There's nothing worse than a drummer who can't play slow grooves ...........

After the reading and independence course comes the hard part -- the musicality...... learning how to apply what you've learned in a musical setting...... Just listen to lots of good players (Your Miles Davis box set that you mentioned on the other thread is a great start) for that. Have fun!!!!

Mediocrefunkybeat 06-16-2006 10:09 AM

Re: John Riley
 
Hey man, thanks for the advice. I must have an attention deficit issue, because every time I sit down to try and listen to the Miles stuff, or practice the drumming (in any context) something comes up. Drives me mad, but I will make the time to sit down and get going on this. It's just so different to anything else I've tried.

smoggrocks 06-16-2006 04:02 PM

Re: John Riley
 
duke, i hear ya on the 'energy' front, but what impresses me about riley is his overall technique, cleanliness, taste, vocabulary and subtlety. he still plays with the vanguard orchestra here on most monday nites, which is cool to be able to see. he definitely kicks it up a notch at key points.

i checked out a really cool pasic clinic with him several years back, in which he analyzed the playing style of tain watts. he broke down a lot of what tain was doing, and demonstrated some of the approaches he [tain] took, and his use of metric modulation. it was very interesting, and while i couldn't mimic what he did, it was cool to have someone break down more complex ideas.

i'm actually starting lessons with him next week. more to supplement what i'm doing while my regular teach is in europe gigging. my goal is to really immerse myself in jazz playing and come out with a strong foundation so that i can incorporate those concepts into my playing overall. i've been working like a crazylady just getting my jazz ride solid and uptempo.

it's gonna be exciting. and very expensive.

theduke86 06-19-2006 08:55 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Good luck with Mr. Riley, smogg.
I actually dig his big band playing a lot. He's my favorite big band drummer around now actually. Well, maybe him and Smitty...
I've heard he can be a little harsh. Don't take it personally, he's just helping, so I hear. He's not as harsh as some guys. Kenny Washington is a jerk in lessons, but all in the name of improvement! Have fun.

smoggrocks 06-28-2006 07:51 PM

Re: John Riley
 
here's how the lesson went down:

firstly, i must say that mr. riley is truly a nice human being. as soon as he opened the door to the practice room, i felt like i was in the company of a good neighbor. it put me instantly at ease.

the other cool thing was that he didn't ask me to just sit down and play something for him. i hate when people do that; inevitably i choke. he just had me have a seat at the drums [a lovely little yamaha jazz kit with fresh heads; there was another kit next to him], he sat in his easy chair, and asked me what i've been doing, where i want to go, and what kind of setup i play on.

so i told him what i've been up to and what i play, then took out my laundry list of drumgoals, which essentially focused on my desire to get a firm foundation in jazz, continue to improve my hands, get better at transcribing, and understand the evolution of traditional jazz to modern jazz. also, to take whatever i learned with him and apply it to my rock playing, and essentially become a better, more knowledgable and effective drummer overall.

so first he did a synopsis of the link between jazz and rock. how swing begat shuffle begat eight and 16th notes. he demonstrated that on the kit and we talked briefly about earl palmer and the other jazz cats who basically responded to the piano parts they heard, and who altered their playing in response to it.

then we got right down to hands. he asked me what i didn't like about mine, and i played paradiddles and showed him my weak left hand. he said my right hand looked very good, and my left looked a little tense, but not THAT bad. i was relieved. i explained that i keep getting thumb injuries from trying to play faster, and he said we would change that. [if you can't tell, the man is very positive].

he asked what my theory and approach was regarding holding/using the sticks, and i said i was torn between the loosey-goosey model and the hardcore stick control model. he said we would strive for a middle ground. i brought up the whole tony williams thing, and he said he'd watched enough slo-motion vids of tony to know that he did not always do what he espoused; that is, he did stay loose with his sticks, even though he talked a lot about controlling the stick's rebound.

he talked quite a bit about arm mechanics, and how volume and sound is achieved, and we spent a significant length of time doing whipping exercises on the pad and the snare. what's that 60s dance called -- the one that travolta and thurman danced to in 'pulp fiction?' that's sort of what our arms were doing, or at least what it reminded me of, though the arm went more up than sideways. i started to laugh inside, but it was a good exercise, because i was able to see at what point i tensed up. his wrist was very limber, and mine stayed rigid at a certain point. so we focused on that a lot. we also did whipped and non-whipped famularo-ish motions, holding the stick between the middle and forefinger, so i could really see the stick rebound.

then we did paradiddle grooves and alternating single strokes around the kit, using the whipping motion, then not using it, and he stood behind me and would move my elbows and arms to take me through the motion when i would do it wrong. we did crossover exercises doing the same thing, and that's where i started getting it down better.

midway through, he said, 'i am encouraged by your enthusiasm!' [translation: it's a good thing you like playing drums, babe, coz yo' azz is gonna be in here a looooooooong time] actually, i think he was being genuine, and he seemed to appreciate my questions and my focused attention.

we did lots of the paradiddle groove thing, then he got behind his kit and we played the grooves together, and he had me add in the bass drum a 16th note at a time, and move it progressively over by 1/16th. it was cool, but i never really have played on an 18" bass drum, and man, it was so different! the sound and the boing were really strange to me. i also didn't expect that we'd be doing funk stuff, but the exercises served the purpose, so that's what counts. he also showed me a better way to position my sticks when playing hi-hat snare stuff. i was definitely not giving myself enough air.

oh -- he did ask me to play everything very lightly. in fact, when i first played my paradiddles on the snare drum, he said, 'it's okay to play softly.' stupid rock drummer. in fact, he encouraged me to go for american grip, as my hands tended to alternate while playing. he said for now, it would be the easiest way for me to achieve power without tensing up.

and that was essentially it.

he wrote out some exercises for me, answered some questions, and stayed with me an extra 20 minutes or so. then he had to get ready for his vanguard gig.

i was delighted with the whole experience! i appreciated his lucidity and analogous discourse [geez, are those even words?] i felt very comfortable, clear and hopeful. he pointed out lots of good things i was doing [posture, relaxing, breathing, timing], and didn't make me feel bad for my weaknesses. he just stressed that certain things take a lot of time, and i said i had all the time in the world, which i really do.

we will be doing lessons only 1, maybe 2 times a month, because he's quite pricey. but he gave me so much stuff to work on, i think it's a better approach. he'll get to see more dramatic improvements when more time has passed.

so that's the shebang. i'm still excited about everything. i especially like that i take the lessons at manhattan school of music, which felt special in and of itself. that place puts out some great players. and the 5th floor has that great, musty music room smell.

TheSteve 06-28-2006 10:25 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by smoggrocks
here's how the lesson went down:

firstly, i must say that mr. riley is truly a nice human being. as soon as he opened the door to the practice room, i felt like i was in the company of a good neighbor. it put me instantly at ease.

the other cool thing was that he didn't ask me to just sit down and play something for him. i hate when people do that; inevitably i choke. he just had me have a seat at the drums [a lovely little yamaha jazz kit with fresh heads; there was another kit next to him], he sat in his easy chair, and asked me what i've been doing, where i want to go, and what kind of setup i play on.

so i told him what i've been up to and what i play, then took out my laundry list of drumgoals, which essentially focused on my desire to get a firm foundation in jazz, continue to improve my hands, get better at transcribing, and understand the evolution of traditional jazz to modern jazz. also, to take whatever i learned with him and apply it to my rock playing, and essentially become a better, more knowledgable and effective drummer overall.

so first he did a synopsis of the link between jazz and rock. how swing begat shuffle begat eight and 16th notes. he demonstrated that on the kit and we talked briefly about earl palmer and the other jazz cats who basically responded to the piano parts they heard, and who altered their playing in response to it.

then we got right down to hands. he asked me what i didn't like about mine, and i played paradiddles and showed him my weak left hand. he said my right hand looked very good, and my left looked a little tense, but not THAT bad. i was relieved. i explained that i keep getting thumb injuries from trying to play faster, and he said we would change that. [if you can't tell, the man is very positive].

he asked what my theory and approach was regarding holding/using the sticks, and i said i was torn between the loosey-goosey model and the hardcore stick control model. he said we would strive for a middle ground. i brought up the whole tony williams thing, and he said he'd watched enough slo-motion vids of tony to know that he did not always do what he espoused; that is, he did stay loose with his sticks, even though he talked a lot about controlling the stick's rebound.

he talked quite a bit about arm mechanics, and how volume and sound is achieved, and we spent a significant length of time doing whipping exercises on the pad and the snare. what's that 60s dance called -- the one that travolta and thurman danced to in 'pulp fiction?' that's sort of what our arms were doing, or at least what it reminded me of, though the arm went more up than sideways. i started to laugh inside, but it was a good exercise, because i was able to see at what point i tensed up. his wrist was very limber, and mine stayed rigid at a certain point. so we focused on that a lot. we also did whipped and non-whipped famularo-ish motions, holding the stick between the middle and forefinger, so i could really see the stick rebound.

then we did paradiddle grooves and alternating single strokes around the kit, using the whipping motion, then not using it, and he stood behind me and would move my elbows and arms to take me through the motion when i would do it wrong. we did crossover exercises doing the same thing, and that's where i started getting it down better.

midway through, he said, 'i am encouraged by your enthusiasm!' [translation: it's a good thing you like playing drums, babe, coz yo' azz is gonna be in here a looooooooong time] actually, i think he was being genuine, and he seemed to appreciate my questions and my focused attention.

we did lots of the paradiddle groove thing, then he got behind his kit and we played the grooves together, and he had me add in the bass drum a 16th note at a time, and move it progressively over by 1/16th. it was cool, but i never really have played on an 18" bass drum, and man, it was so different! the sound and the boing were really strange to me. i also didn't expect that we'd be doing funk stuff, but the exercises served the purpose, so that's what counts. he also showed me a better way to position my sticks when playing hi-hat snare stuff. i was definitely not giving myself enough air.

oh -- he did ask me to play everything very lightly. in fact, when i first played my paradiddles on the snare drum, he said, 'it's okay to play softly.' stupid rock drummer. in fact, he encouraged me to go for american grip, as my hands tended to alternate while playing. he said for now, it would be the easiest way for me to achieve power without tensing up.

and that was essentially it.

he wrote out some exercises for me, answered some questions, and stayed with me an extra 20 minutes or so. then he had to get ready for his vanguard gig.

i was delighted with the whole experience! i appreciated his lucidity and analogous discourse [geez, are those even words?] i felt very comfortable, clear and hopeful. he pointed out lots of good things i was doing [posture, relaxing, breathing, timing], and didn't make me feel bad for my weaknesses. he just stressed that certain things take a lot of time, and i said i had all the time in the world, which i really do.

we will be doing lessons only 1, maybe 2 times a month, because he's quite pricey. but he gave me so much stuff to work on, i think it's a better approach. he'll get to see more dramatic improvements when more time has passed.

so that's the shebang. i'm still excited about everything. i especially like that i take the lessons at manhattan school of music, which felt special in and of itself. that place puts out some great players. and the 5th floor has that great, musty music room smell.



How did you get a lesson with him? Do you live in the area or go/planned on going to MSM?

smoggrocks 06-28-2006 10:33 PM

Re: John Riley
 
i live in new york, and asked him if he would consider taking me as a student. i do not attend msm.

theduke86 06-29-2006 09:10 AM

Re: John Riley
 
Wow Smoggrocks, that's a great story. I'll be heading to NYC in February hopefully to take a few lessons with some guys, and he's definetly on my short list.
How'd you get in contact with him?

smoggrocks 06-29-2006 03:40 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by theduke86
How'd you get in contact with him?

through his website:

www.johnriley.org


you'd get a lot out of it, duke. he's a cool cat.

bballdrummer34 04-11-2007 03:37 AM

Re: John Riley
 
When i was younger he asked me to play something for him and i DID choke, haha. He's a REALLY nice guy.

jazzin' 04-12-2007 12:31 PM

Re: John Riley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by theduke86 (Post 164515)
Wow Smoggrocks, that's a great story. I'll be heading to NYC in February hopefully to take a few lessons with some guys, and he's definetly on my short list.
How'd you get in contact with him?

Yes, when I finally get the chance to get over to NYC he's one of the guys I'd love to get some lessons off. I'm sure there are a million brilliant teachers but having gone through his books (still going) and loving them and the way he obviously thinks things through seems like a great way of passing them on.

Can't wait to get over to NYC....one day



one day...

Guinness 04-12-2007 07:47 PM

Re: John Riley
 
I love this guy's book The Art of Bop..I have been working though Chapin's book for about two years now off and on and decided to go ahead and buy Riley's a few months ago. In my opinion, Riley's book is much more practical and layed out for the laymen. He also has very interesting commentary and probably a hell of a lot of personality. Chapin's book is just so damned difficult in the later chapters. If I ever master all of these exercises I am going to be one bad sucker. :)

Until then it's just me stuck in the woodshed choppin' away.


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