Jazz in the Time of Covid and Beyond

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Assuming there’s no substitute for playing with other musicians, and that’s what jazz is all about, what’s the next best thing to be doing while under Covid restrictions? My post-Covid goal is to start or join a small combo.

I’ve been working on jazz almost exclusively for the past few years and listening to mostly jazz for 25 years. Prior to Covid I was playing some jazz in a small eclectic group.

I’ve been working through books (The Art of Bop, Beyond Bop, Todd Bishop’s Samba Field Manual, Hughton’s Solo book/CD and Modern Rudimental Swing) in addition to rudiment work, playing along with recordings and working on brush technique.

Maybe I’m already doing what I can, but I don’t know what I don’t know. Also, I have (had, he doesn’t do virtual) teacher and am asking him this same question since the answer might be different for each person. Still I would like to hear any suggestions here.

Thanks!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I highly recommend the Peter Erskine apps Erskn Jazz Essentials

lots of tunes in different styles and tempos
a great mixer where you can take out or put in any instrument or click
an option to record yourself with the band

worth every cent in a time like this
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I highly recommend the Peter Erskine apps Erskn Jazz Essentials

lots of tunes in different styles and tempos
a great mixer where you can take out or put in any instrument or click
an option to record yourself with the band

worth every cent in a time like this
Thank you! I’ve been doing a good amount of play along but didn’t know if it would help or hurt. Sounds like it’s a good thing. I didn’t know about those apps. Just bought the first volume now. I like the idea of being able to hear Erskine play with the intention of teaching.

I recently found the play alongs linked below (I don’t know if they stream anywhere other than Apple). They are high production quality, some with trading and vocals. Steve Smith plays drums on the sans piano/bass versions but he’s Steve Smith so it doesn’t help (me at least) to listen to him and then try to emulate him. The Erskine app looks to be better in that regard.

 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Good time to listen to a lot of records, build up a burning desire to do some playing. Practice a lot, think about tunes. You can try my practice loops. Drumless tracks are probably great, I can just never hang with them-- it feels like an exercise. I'd rather just play along with Coltrane.

Thanks for mentioning my book-- I hope that's been helpful.
 
As far as working on skills alone that are otherwise best practiced live with others I recommend playing along with music that you’re hearing for the very first time. Rhythms, heads, song structures, and melodies that you’re not familiar with.

Put on a station on accujazz (accuradio.com), try to keep up and roll with the punches. This is all about listening and being in the moment. Nobody will react to you so you can’t be an influencer but you can at least practice being a sensitive supporter.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I highly recommend the Peter Erskine apps Erskn Jazz Essentials

lots of tunes in different styles and tempos
a great mixer where you can take out or put in any instrument or click
an option to record yourself with the band

worth every cent in a time like this
love Erskine....I will also be using this app with my students
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Good time to listen to a lot of records, build up a burning desire to do some playing. Practice a lot, think about tunes. You can try my practice loops. Drumless tracks are probably great, I can just never hang with them-- it feels like an exercise. I'd rather just play along with Coltrane.

Thanks for mentioning my book-- I hope that's been helpful.
I use some of your loops. Thank you! Where I find the drumless play along’s helpful is when I record my play along. As I listen back I pretend that I’m listening to someone else’s recording. That helps me to imagine what I would want to hear or expect to hear vs how I actually played it. Brutal on the ego but has been super helpful, especially for my tendency towards overplaying.

The Samba book is just what I needed. I particularly like your approach of... “Here’s what you need to know.” In my experience it’s rare to find a book that parses the information for the reader based on the authors experience of what’s really needed. Excellent. Self help authors should take note. ;)
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
As far as working on skills alone that are otherwise best practiced live with others I recommend playing along with music that you’re hearing for the very first time. Rhythms, heads, song structures, and melodies that you’re not familiar with.

Put on a station on accujazz (accuradio.com), try to keep up and roll with the punches. This is all about listening and being in the moment. Nobody will react to you so you can’t be an influencer but you can at least practice being a sensitive supporter.
I like that idea. I’ve sort of done that in the past but just for fun, so I would avoid or skip the songs that were challenging or too unfamiliar. I’ll try it more with the mindset your talking about. Thanks!
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
This is all about listening and being in the moment. Nobody will react to you so you can’t be an influencer but you can at least practice being a sensitive supporter.
First-rate advice. Listening is the essence of development. We can't carry out what we haven't absorbed. We absorb only through listening.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
love Erskine....I will also be using this app with my students
they are great

the app also provides charts for every tune ... great for students and pros alike

Louie Bellson once said to me at a Joe Morello clinic in the early 90s ... "if there is one thing you can never work too much on it's chart reading"

EDIT; a little backstory on what may look like "name dropping"

I was at a Morello clinic in NYC in the 90s and Louie was there.
I approached the stage afterward to meet and say hello to Louie for I had never met him.
Mr. Bellson was the kind of guy who made you feel like HE was excited to meet YOU... just had that way about him.
We met and I mentioned something about brushes and he says ... "hey, check this out" ... he runs over to Morello's stick bag and grabs a pair of brushes and proceeds to play this great stroke on Joe's floor tom... then he points the brushes at me and says.."you try!"
So I did.
At the time in the early 90s brushes were not a strong suit of my playing so I asked Louie at that point ...If I could pick one thing to work on what would you suggest? ... I meant with brushes ... and Louie responded with the quote above about charts

that's what happened
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
they are great

the app also provides charts for every tune ... great for students and pros alike

Louie Bellson once said to me at a Joe Morello clinic in the early 90s ... "if there is one thing you can never work too much on it's chart reading"

EDIT; a little backstory on what may look like "name dropping"

I was at a Morello clinic in NYC in the 90s and Louie was there.
I approached the stage afterward to meet and say hello to Louie for I had never met him.
Mr. Bellson was the kind of guy who made you feel like HE was excited to meet YOU... just had that way about him.
We met and I mentioned something about brushes and he says ... "hey, check this out" ... he runs over to Morello's stick bag and grabs a pair of brushes and proceeds to play this great stroke on Joe's floor tom... then he points the brushes at me and says.."you try!"
So I did.
At the time in the early 90s brushes were not a strong suit of my playing so I asked Louie at that point ...If I could pick one thing to work on what would you suggest? ... I meant with brushes ... and Louie responded with the quote above about charts

that's what happened
I have seen Erskine 3 times in clinic, and did one masterclass with him. He was like Bellson....excited to get to talk to you about drums and life.

He was so cool that one time I took my my students to one of his clinics, and it was during band sub sale season. My one student asked him if he wanted to buy any band subs. He bought 5. We met him at his hotel the next morning before he left to deliver them. We got pics of him and my student with the subs, and a big smile on his face, but this was before cell phones, so they are buried in a box somewhere.

Awesome guy!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I have seen Erskine 3 times in clinic, and did one masterclass with him. He was like Bellson....excited to get to talk to you about drums and life.

He was so cool that one time I took my my students to one of his clinics, and it was during band sub sale season. My one student asked him if he wanted to buy any band subs. He bought 5. We met him at his hotel the next morning before he left to deliver them. We got pics of him and my student with the subs, and a big smile on his face, but this was before cell phones, so they are buried in a box somewhere.

Awesome guy!
indeed a great guy

Peter is a friend
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
Maybe I’m already doing what I can, but I don’t know what I don’t know. Also, I have (had, he doesn’t do virtual) teacher and am asking him this same question since the answer might be different for each person. Still I would like to hear any suggestions here.

Thanks!
I recommend Skype lessons. Certainly the best way to learn the instrument is to be in front of a teacher, and all you need is your phone and ear buds. I take a lesson every three weeks and walk away with so much gained each time, and a completely different direction for the next stage of development than if I were doing what I thought was the next thing.
 

jazzerooty

Junior Member
I'm unsure as to what kind of jazz you're talking about. Everyone has his favorite book, method, etc. I think you need to really listen to the great musicians--Miles, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and many others. Learn to swinge on that cymbal! Know the form of each song. Make yourself familar with all the standards that jazz musicians use for improvising on. One album that's great for getting your cymbal together on is "Walkin'" by the Miles Davis All Stars. The tune, Walkin' is a medium tempo in blues form. Get the feel playing along with it. Another is, of course, "Kind of Blue," by Miles Davis. Play alon with recordings.
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
Yes, it's so important for us drummers to be playing with other musicians, but there still so much you can work on during this hopefully temporary set back. All those play alongs, sound great, and that should be a valuable practice tool along with playing along with recordings, and also doing some serious listening to the greats. We should all be listening to the great players everyday! It's just as important as practicing our instruments. Actively listen with your full attention, and focus on one particular area. Maybe the drummers ride, then the piano comp, then the bass, then the soloist... Can you sing the melodies of all the tunes your working on? Can you sing the melodies and play time? Can you sing the head and play a solo on your drums ? Can audiate in your mind? You should always be playing off of something like a melody, a bass line, some sort of clave, or resolution points.

Transcribe the great time keepers, drum soloist, bass lines, piano comping, and also melodic soloist s too . It's great if you can write it out, but I think it's more important that you are able to sing whatever it is your transcribing before you write it out or even play it on your instrument.
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
Here at the 6:20 mark, John Ramsay demonstrates some Stick Control applications while singing "Take the A Train"
I do this too with the Wilcoxon books.

 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Here at the 6:20 mark, John Ramsay demonstrates some Stick Control applications while singing "Take the A Train"
I do this too with the Wilcoxon books.

Thanks for that amazing video. Now I’m going to obsess over getting that down. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Seriously, that’s good advice. I struggle to remember melodies. It’s something that needs work. Don’t know if that’s a common drummer thing or not.
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
Thanks for that amazing video. Now I’m going to obsess over getting that down. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Seriously, that’s good advice. I struggle to remember melodies. It’s something that needs work. Don’t know if that’s a common drummer thing or not.
I think you understood that that my point was that you don't have to learn that crazy Stick Control application. I mean that's all good, but my point is to put even a technical exercise into a musical context. Always play off of something.

As far as remembering melodies, it just takes a lot practice, Sing, a lot. Sing out loud, in your head. Just do it everyday! I sing along with Sintra, Miles Davis , John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, to name a few. When I started in college back in the 80's I had HORRIBLE ears and sense of pitch. I only had played drums up until then. After a butt load of theory, ear training, sight singing, piano, and mallets and it slowly got together. Now I sing on gigs, and people compliment me more on my voice than they ever did on my instrument. But being able to sing everything that I play has made me a much better drummer. Steve Houghton had " Can't sing it, can't play it" painted on his wall!

Check out Steve Gadd demonstrating brushes while humming "My Romance" and "Bye Bye Black Bird" I think the great drummers are always playing off of something like a melody in there mind (audiation) or humming or kind of grunting.

 
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