Jazz drumming

Wbp

Member
After a yr of playing I've ventured into jazz. No sure if I'm thinking correctly with this. My skills have come a long way because I play alot. I got lots of time.
It's almost like I have to completely tune out everything, even the music ( not the beat) and just hit whatever.
It seems so random and weird.
Is my approach incorrect ?
Suggestions for jazz drummer listening ?
 

MattRitter

Senior Member
Hi, Wbp

If we hear someone speaking a language that is foreign to us, it might sound like random gibberish...but obviously, that's a misperception.

Well, the same misperception occasionally happens when we first hear a music style that is foreign to us.

What you are currently perceiving as "random and weird," with a drummer who has decided to "just hit whatever" is not the reality of jazz at all. My guess is that you simply didn't grow up in a household where jazz was the music being played on a daily basis. In essence, jazz is foreign to you.

If you decide to actually learn it, you'll need to do the exact opposite of "tune out everything." You'll need to start listening very intently and frequently, along with getting some guidance on the standard rhythms and the standard songs. It's already been mentioned numerous times on this forum, but John Riley's book, The Art of Bop Drumming, is a nice place to start. It'll show you some of the basic rhythms to get started, and it'll even recommend your first handful of jazz albums (Moanin' and Milestones amongst others).

Have fun, and best of luck!
 

Wbp

Member
Thanks
Interesting.
I've listened to alot of jazz but not sure I ever really listened to the drummer.
I'll go back an listen to some old jazz cd's
And try to pay attention to the drummer more.
Many suggestions here have been quite helpful for me.
Again, my thanks
 

planoranger

Junior Member
Great post, Matt. Pretty much sums up the journey that Wbp will have to embark on.

Keep in mind that "Jazz" is the catch-phrase that is applied to the music of that improvisatory nature. Within that there are so many different styles, each requiring their own nuances. For example, one of my favorite type of groups to play in is the piano trio. The way one plays behind an Oscar Peterson-inspired pianist is totally different than what is "required" to play behind someone who patterns themself after Bill Evans, which in turn is different than someone who plays like Thelonius Monk, etc., etc., etc.

So, Wbp, as Matt perfectly stated, you gotta keep your ears wide open, and be totally sensitive to what is going on around you. In a way I'm envious of you. I would love to rediscover what you are now experiencing. Good luck.
 
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Wbp

Member
Thanks for the input. I'll work on listening skills for couple days in a row. Hadn't really tried that seriously with the jazz thing yet.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Suggestions for jazz drummer listening ?
I'm not a Jazz guy, but you might want to check out the Ken Burns documentary series, "Jazz". It puts forth the idea that Jazz is a story, and to understand Jazz, a person should start at the beginning. It might be available from your local library.
https://www.amazon.com/Jazz/dp/B002P3OCUE
 
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Tosheus

Member
Some good advice here.. Also, work on your swing.. Focus on your swing. Play along to Moanin’ just swinging on the ride and 2 & 4 on your hats..
Do this for a couple of months then introduce left hand comping exercises from ‘The Art of Bop Drumming as Matt mentioned.. This takes time.
Get into pad practice as well, triplet rudiments and 6 stroke roll are a great place to start..
Start listening to jazz everyday..
Above all else, enjoy the journey..
 

Wbp

Member
I'm not a Jazz guy, but you might want to check out the Ken Burns documentary series, "Jazz". It puts for the idea that Jazz is a story, and to understand Jazz, a person should start at the beginning. It might be available from your local library.
https://www.amazon.com/Jazz/dp/B002P3OCUE
The history of music interests me.
I love learning about older cymbals.
I'll check it. I'm sure I can find it.
Thanks
 

planoranger

Junior Member
Another thing to consider. As TMe and RickP pointed out, Jazz is really music within a context. So don't just listen to the drummer; listen to what the drummer is playing in context/relation with the other members of the group. This is not easy. It takes a lot of practice. You have to improve your ears as much as your hands. Think about it...the drummer on the record (or YouTube video these days) is relating to the other players in a support mode or "kick-'em-in-the butt" mode or a combination. That's the one thing that ALL the great players have in common.
 

Wbp

Member
I think of you really want to get into playing Jazz you need to go to the roots . I would start with the Big Bands like Count Basie , Glen Miller , Benny Goodman etc . , even if Big Band is not what you ultimately want to play , listening will get the sense of swing into your playing .

For small Group /Bop playing it all starts with Art Blakey for me . The first time I heard Art is was an epiphany for me . I could get Art and fell in love with his style .

After Art I made a progression through the Great players
Max Roach was next ( such a melodic player )
Tony Williams (you can hear he was influenced by Max and Art )
Mel Lewis - another of my favourite players

So many great players - get the John Riley book The Art of BeBop Drumming there is an excellent recommended listening section .
Nice stuff. Interesting
Roach will be my deep dive today. I love
Melodic players of any instrument.
Thanks
 

Wbp

Member
Another thing to consider. As TMe and RickP pointed out, Jazz is really music within a context. So don't just listen to the drummer; listen to what the drummer is playing in context/relation with the other members of the group. This is not easy. It takes a lot of practice. You have to improve your ears as much as your hands. Think about it...the drummer on the record (or YouTube video these days) is relating to the other players in a support mode or "kick-'em-in-the butt" mode or a combination. That's the one thing that ALL the great players have in common.
I like to practice. It's all new and cool.
Makes me smile.
Think I'll pull up some suggestions from the forum, start slow and stay there for a few days.
Thank you
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It's not random.

Simplest thing would be to start listening to music you don't get almost as a job until it starts opening up to you.

Obviously, also check out as much as possible, different drummers etc and go deeper into those that speak to you right now, which will probably change over time.This is easier now than ever, but it's almost too easy. Both me and many I've heard talking about their musical growth would listen to mostly one record for a whole year. It wasn't just clicking around og Youtube or Spotify for the next thing, you really went deep.

Music is an acquired taste. All music is. Even the stuff you enjoy and understand now.

As for really getting it , you have to start building your vocabulary from the ground up. Hear and understand everything you play and find a teacher who can relate the skills you are working on right now to actual music, history et...

When Charlie and Dizzie went to the West Coast after WWII it was a shock to everyone who wasn't part of the evolution.
 

BobC

Member
I think of you really want to get into playing Jazz you need to go to the roots . I would start with the Big Bands like Count Basie , Glen Miller , Benny Goodman etc . , even if Big Band is not what you ultimately want to play , listening will get the sense of swing into your playing .

For small Group /Bop playing it all starts with Art Blakey for me . The first time I heard Art is was an epiphany for me . I could get Art and fell in love with his style .

After Art I made a progression through the Great players
Max Roach was next ( such a melodic player )
Tony Williams (you can hear he was influenced by Max and Art )
Mel Lewis - another of my favourite players

So many great players - get the John Riley book The Art of BeBop Drumming there is an excellent recommended listening section .
I was also going to suggest you start with the big band drummers of the 40's: Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Papa Jo Jones, Cliff Leeman, Maurice Purtill, Ray McKinley, etc. There were so many good to great drummers. Then, progress to the Bop guys, as well as Sonny Payne, who played with the later Count Basie band.

These drummers weren't "hitting just anything." There was a swing, a natural pulse, with thought-out parts and licks. Immerse yourself in the music
 

planoranger

Junior Member
When Charlie and Dizzie went to the West Coast after WWII it was a shock to everyone who wasn't part of the evolution.
It wasn't just a shock to people on the West Coast. Unless you were at Minton's or the Five Spot (the only two jazz clubs where bop was originally played; both in Manhattan), it was a shock to everyone else, too.
 
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Wbp

Member
It's not random.

Simplest thing would be to start listening to music you don't get almost as a job until it starts opening up to you.

Obviously, also check out as much as possible, different drummers etc and go deeper into those that speak to you right now, which will probably change over time.This is easier now than ever, but it's almost too easy. Both me and many I've heard talking about their musical growth would listen to mostly one record for a whole year. It wasn't just clicking around og Youtube or Spotify for the next thing, you really went deep.

Music is an acquired taste. All music is. Even the stuff you enjoy and understand now.

As for really getting it , you have to start building your vocabulary from the ground up. Hear and understand everything you play and find a teacher who can relate the skills you are working on right now to actual music, history et...

When Charlie and Dizzie went to the West Coast after WWII it was a shock to everyone who wasn't part of the evolution.
Thank you
I'm getting a great history lesson. I've found the history of the music and equipment used early on fascinating.
Per an early suggestion I'm diving into
Max Roach today. Something about his style I like.
Again thanks
 

Wbp

Member
I was also going to suggest you start with the big band drummers of the 40's: Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Papa Jo Jones, Cliff Leeman, Maurice Purtill, Ray McKinley, etc. There were so many good to great drummers. Then, progress to the Bop guys, as well as Sonny Payne, who played with the later Count Basie band.

These drummers weren't "hitting just anything." There was a swing, a natural pulse, with thought-out parts and licks. Immerse yourself in the
I think at times I've tried so hard to up my skills I've neglected my listening skills.
Being new is humbling even though I've played something for 50 yrs.
My appreciation of the guy behind the kit
Has risen bigly
 

drum hostage

Active Member
Hi, Wbp

If we hear someone speaking a language that is foreign to us, it might sound like random gibberish...but obviously, that's a misperception.

Well, the same misperception occasionally happens when we first hear a music style that is foreign to us.

What you are currently perceiving as "random and weird," with a drummer who has decided to "just hit whatever" is not the reality of jazz at all. My guess is that you simply didn't grow up in a household where jazz was the music being played on a daily basis. In essence, jazz is foreign to you.

If you decide to actually learn it, you'll need to do the exact opposite of "tune out everything." You'll need to start listening very intently and frequently, along with getting some guidance on the standard rhythms and the standard songs. It's already been mentioned numerous times on this forum, but John Riley's book, The Art of Bop Drumming, is a nice place to start. It'll show you some of the basic rhythms to get started, and it'll even recommend your first handful of jazz albums (Moanin' and Milestones amongst others).

Have fun, and best of luck!
haha!

I have that exact thing with ICM (Indian classical music) at first it was sort of pleasant noise (I mean I intellectually knew there was more to it, I'm just talking musical perception here)
THEN I could hear that there WAS a structured language, but the structure eluded me..I mean I just started to pick up on the patterns.
LATER I could IDENTIFY the patterns.
It's an ongoing process and I do wonder if, like language, some of my neural-perceptual circuitry is ingrained deeply now - but the process has been cool
(and no, I'm not remotely ready for tabla..oh it'd be cool, but above my pay grade -- which is zero BTW)


It does remind me of every kids first fake (and you know you are faking it, just for funsies to do it) walking bass line where one just chromatically go up and down maybe with a little swing in the rhythm.
still...that 'pretend' is a step...it does contain the germ of the idea of linearizing the harmony (as in an arpeggio, then with passing tones, etc)
funny how we so often think of it as "jazz" but it also exists in classical voice leading (harmonize the cantus firmus)

eh, I'll start going down the harmonic rabbit hole, so back to our regularly scheduled program of RHYTHM
 
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Huw Owens

Active Member
Try listening to the album Midnight Blue, by Kenney Burrell. The drummer is Bill English, and his playing is much more low key than a lot of jazz drumming. You should find it easier to digest than some of the more drum heavy performances by bigger name players.

It's the album I always recommend as a starting point for how to "get" jazz drums. Sure, it's fun to listen to Art Blakey or Tony Williams, but you have to learn to walk before you can run, so Bill English is the guy.

It's the same idea as learning to play like Ringo before you try to play like Terry Bozzio.

:)
 

moxman

Silver Member
Apart from swing and groove .. you'll also want to work on your finger technique. I see a lot of great jazz drummers around town and a lot of the time their wrists don't bend much.. but the sticks are bouncing like crazy. Also for fast patterns on the ride cymbal etc.. or articulated double stroke rolls around the kit - it's all fingers!
 

s1212z

Silver Member
I don't know if it matters where you start, I think first it's about finding a connection to the music and having some patient listening. And then you can work the lineage both backwards and forward. I distinctly remember getting A Love Supreme because it is recommended so highly and listened to Elvin, 'hmmm....that's interesting' but not really even having an understanding what was going on as it was so foreign at first. Tony was far more accessible because his technique was so refined plus he knew lineage extremely well while having a vision, so on a deep dive it was a lot to digest and connect alot of other jazz drummers, then connect to others. For Elvin, I read alot of interviews so see what they liked but I needed more of my own musical experiences to digest what was happening; it was like staring too close to an Impressionist painting and them stepping back to absorb the whole painting along with the quartet....holy smokes, this freakin' amazing. It continues to be fun treasure hunt to check out players and albums.
 
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