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Old 12-12-2008, 09:41 AM
delta delta is offline
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Default Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

Well, "intermediate" drummer is stretching it in terms of jazz playing. I've practiced all sorts of jazz books/syncopation and have been constantly urged by teachers to start playing live jazz. I've playing a grand total of 3 years now I think and am 26 years old.

I can keep steady "swung" jazz time up to 100 bpms. Nothing to flashy. Independence is okay, I can do triplet variations with hi-hat/snare/bass anywhere within the "time". Fills I'm not great at yet... it's like I cling to a groove and as soon as I let go, I struggle to jump back in with jazz. Which is why now, I've been urged to start playing with people. You hear it all the time, "One of the fastest ways to get better is to play with people." I want to get better, and practicing by myself constantly is going to be a slow, slow road.

Thing is with jazz, it seems like everyone is looking for some uber-seasoned pro drum player with massive chops. That ain't me, and I highly doubt that every jazz group sprung into being with all it's members being super experienced from the get go. These guys had to start playing "live" at some point when they were just starting out.

With all the groups looking for seasoned players, how is a guy supposed to start playing jazz live with people? I'm 26 years old, I guess I could swallow my pride and play with some awesome 13 year old's on guitar or something. Any ideas on places to find people like me? It's like the chicken and egg problem.
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:04 PM
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mrchattr mrchattr is offline
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

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Originally Posted by delta View Post
Well, "intermediate" drummer is stretching it in terms of jazz playing. I've practiced all sorts of jazz books/syncopation and have been constantly urged by teachers to start playing live jazz. I've playing a grand total of 3 years now I think and am 26 years old.

I can keep steady "swung" jazz time up to 100 bpms. Nothing to flashy. Independence is okay, I can do triplet variations with hi-hat/snare/bass anywhere within the "time". Fills I'm not great at yet... it's like I cling to a groove and as soon as I let go, I struggle to jump back in with jazz. Which is why now, I've been urged to start playing with people. You hear it all the time, "One of the fastest ways to get better is to play with people." I want to get better, and practicing by myself constantly is going to be a slow, slow road.

Thing is with jazz, it seems like everyone is looking for some uber-seasoned pro drum player with massive chops. That ain't me, and I highly doubt that every jazz group sprung into being with all it's members being super experienced from the get go. These guys had to start playing "live" at some point when they were just starting out.

With all the groups looking for seasoned players, how is a guy supposed to start playing jazz live with people? I'm 26 years old, I guess I could swallow my pride and play with some awesome 13 year old's on guitar or something. Any ideas on places to find people like me? It's like the chicken and egg problem.
OK, a couple of things here...

- Look around online, etc, especially if you live near any decent sized cities, for open jam sessions. Most of the jazz work I got came from playing at jam sessions. The guys will tell you what you are doing wrong, and you might get some abuse at first, but it's all done constructively, and if you can bury the ego and handle it, you will get better quickly. These jam sessions have also led to regular gigs/studio work for me. Also, at one time, I got to play with John Pattitucci, a very well known bass player (he's played with Miles Davis, Chick Corea, etc) at a session. That was an awesome feeling.

- A lot, and I mean a lot, of the local scene guys do start out playing together in high school or college (or both). You are correct in saying that you might be better served finding some younger guys who play, but even then, good luck, because they probably have drummers from their schools. Missing out on that time will make it harder to break into the scene. If there are younger cats out there looking for a drummer, swallow the pride and jam with them, even if they are 14, 15, whatever. You don't have to be their best friends, but you sound like you are at about their playing level, so it should work out.

- One final thing...I don't want to discourage you at all, but I have to say that if you can only play a basic swing beat, and only keep that going up to about 100 BPM, you are going to get slaughtered out there. The "standard" tempo (and by that, I mean the tempo that more songs are recorded at than any other) is 120 BPM. A lot of guys like to play even faster live. Also, at jam sessions (at least in my area), guys tend to love to play bebop, which is WAY faster than that. Playing with younger guys will help with this, and help develop you further, but I have to recommend working on your chops a lot, to get more speed. No jazz band can succeed without playing songs over 100 BPM.
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:18 PM
nfiora nfiora is offline
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

I have been playing for about 5 years, and have recently been atracted to playing Jazz. The only thing is I dont know where to start. Does anyone have any sugestions as to where I could learn the basics of Jazz drumming or any artists I could listen to and try to play along with. Most of the Jazz recordings i have are much older and arnt mastered as well as they would be today so i cant realy tell what the drummer is doing.
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Old 12-13-2008, 02:50 AM
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rmandelbaum rmandelbaum is offline
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

I just started Jazz myself. I got very lucky, I was siting in line waiting to to see Roy Haynes ate PASIC. I met a guy that as it turns out is a great player and teacher.
I am not ready to jam yet but I am looking forward to the point when I am.

There are a few Jazz jams here. One is like you said, all the players are really good. i was told about another on I will have to check out.

I am going through the Riley book "The Art of Bop Drumming"

But I strongly suggest a few lessons to gain a better understanding of how Jazz is played.

I have been playing over 30 years and this is all new to me ;-)
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

One thing you can do in preparation is play along with some recordings. This is something you can play and interact with, as if you were playing with people, but the recording won't get pissed at you if you screw up and you can jump in and out as you're able. This can also be a good test of how ready you are to play with people. If you are able to play along with a recording no problem, playing with other people isn't too big a stretch. But if it's a real challenge for you to keep time and continuity with a recording, you'll probably want to spend some more time with that.

A good starting point would be "Freddy Feeloader" from the Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue". Simple form, easy tempo, straight ahead swing. Get out the headphones and jump in.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

maybe the ideal situation would be to find players with a similar skill level as yours, this way you guys won't be intimidated by each other. They're out there, you just have to find them.
I have said for the longest that playing with other musicians is key. It doesn't matter how great you sound on your own, it's how you interact mucially with other musicians that counts. Jamming is a good way to build up your listening and improv chops.
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

The Riley book comes with a CD.On the CD are 5 tunes with no drums. But it is not the same as interacting with real players.
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:21 AM
delta delta is offline
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Default Re: Questions on Drummer Wanting to Play Jazz with People

Thanks all for the responses. I totally understand I need to increase my tempo in terms of swing. Playing along with other jazz recordings is something I've been doing, (Miles Davis "Freddie Freeloader" is a perfect example), but I always keep it very simple.

I should clarify that I absolutely used to hate jazz growing up. It always sounded like a bunch of un-related noise to me or was like elevator music. As I've got older and became a drummer, practicing these jazz books I feel has done more for my independence and control than anything else so far, so I've come to appreciate jazz that much more. However, that being said, my main motivation for playing jazz live with other people was more for improving my playing overall vs. actually really, really enjoying the groove of jazz. I'd honestly just love to constantly "rock out" to the music I really like.

I'm not a jazz hater at all, just know what I like.
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