Re: DRUM INSTRUCTION DVD & BOOK REVIEWS
Instead of rehashing the same format for the vids already covered, I'll comment on some that I own or have rented. I'd also like to say that it really depends on what you are looking for in a dvd. Instructional? If so, what kind of learner? Do you like to watch and copy, or read notes and dive into theory? Not every dvd can appease all people.
Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials -- great sounding drums, great layout with the different patterns, but very limited to new drummers and drummers looking for a quick beat in a genre they normally don't play. The most disappointing part of this video is the cool little things that Tommy plays at the end of the samples, but doesn't break down. For the more advanced drummers out there, it would have been nice of him to ellaborate.
I would suggest Groove Essentials to anyone who teaches too.
The production value is above average. The drums sound great, the video quality is good, but there is too much cheezy artistic stuff added for no reason (black and white/aged film look, etc.) I feel this takes away from the professionalism. But the soundtrack is much better than many.
Steve Smith's History of the US Beat
This is a great "documentary" disk. It isn't for the step-by-step method of learning though. This is best owned by those who appreciate great drumming and great audio tracks. The solo at the beginning is enough to justify the price. Steve Smith could just make a video that says, this is my gear and this is why it sounds so great, and this is me, one of the three greatest drummers alive playing it!
Criticisms are valid. The history from 1984 to present rings something like "After I quit Journey I have been playing this really technical fusiony stuff with my band Vital Information". I'm afraid to count how many times he mentions his band.
Summary; If you like great playing and great sounding gear, get this one. Also, the history is interesting, especially Steve's thesis that everything is derived from the swing pattern. This is the best sounding drum dvd I've heard.
John Blackwell Jr.
This one suffers from a lower production value than the other Hudson videos. The audio is great, however. The "question and answer" format however, was cheesy. John's drumming is great, but not quite everyone's cup of tea. He is technically very good, with fast feet, good hands, and a strong musical sense behind the kit. His showmanship is obviously a big plus for him. He is a very over the top type of player, and has amazing sounding drums. The writing isn't very good in this one, as the dvd sounds mostly like he's making it up off of a real rough outline the whole time. The transitions from segment to segment don't make sense sometimes. John is a great guy, but some people might find his public speaking skills a bit lacking. He says "uhm" a lot and just never seems confortable speaking.
The extras were kind of lacking but I did like the live performances with the band. And again, his drums and cymbals sound killer.
Thomas Lang Creative Control -
I think this one is a love/hate type of cd. As for me, I'm leaning towards hate. This guy is ROBODRUMMER from hell. The audio again, is great, but the whole interview outside is just plain cheezy, right down to the dialogue and wardrobe. Also, I have a huge problem with the blatant product placement.. "And here are my Thomas Lang signature series cymbals from Meinl, and of course Sonor Drums are the best and I also play all these sonor pedals", "And these are my giant white drumsticks from Vic Firth" blah blah blah. It would be more believable if his cymbals didn't sound so awful! There are several cheesy pans that focus on brand labels and products too. To the dvd...I really like the way his chapters present one idea (single strokes, double strokes, combos, etc.) but I really dislike how he does one exercize then just busts into a very extreme and difficult pattern. For example, he explains how he gets really fat sounding double strokes, but doesn't show you HOW to do it! Same goes with the feet. This guy has probably the best feet I've ever seen and he uses them in interesting ways. But like the whole dvd, he seems to be doing it just to show you how good he is at it and forgets to teach us how to do it ourselves.
If you like technically insane drummers who use very interesting and unique concepts (5 hihats!) then this might be for you. Otherwise, you can be like me and just rationalize your inability to play that crazy complex stuff by playing a simple fat groove.
Steve Gadd: American Drummers Achievement Awards
This is NOT an instructional dvd. The playing on the cd is really good. It seems like the top notch musicians where all flown in and had one rehearsal session to try and get it down. After a lot of boring self-praising speeches about Armand Zildjian and Steve himself, you get to see some really cool "tribute" performances. Old pal James Taylor has a nice set, Tom Scott leads an interesting ensemble (Vinne Coliauta on "Nite Sprite" is really good). Then you get to see Steve himself play with Scott and the guys. I wish this dvd had a section just of the performances. Bill Cosby is really funny at times, but not funny enough for a 3 hour and 5 minute long dvd that has maybe an hour of music on it. The best part of this dvd is in the extras where you get to see the rehearsals.
Carter Beauford Under the Table and Drumming
I like CB a lot. If you don't know anything about him and his style this is a really interesting dvd for open hand playing. Otherwise there really isn't much new here (if you are a fan). Carter has a hard time "explaining" the licks he plays, but he plays them for you very well. Also, the little booklet has all the notes, which I found helpful. Again, I think this dvd suffers from too much filler and not enough playing. When he does play, they go into long sections of him just playing along to a track. Instead of hearing the entire songs, I would have rather seen him break down individually trickier sections. He really struggled explaining his cymbal crossover moves...he tries to verbalize it then just kinda says screw it and rips off a huge cymbal crossover pattern. This dvd is a real eye opener though for those who have never seen the huge kit he plays and how he applies the left hand lead/open hand playing style.
That's all I can think of at the moment. When I get the rest of my stuff here, I might remember some I've forgotten. Also, I have Ed Soph's dvd on the way!