Playing old timey jazz


Platinum Member
I'm playing Royal Garden Blues.

Is there any reading material on what king of rhythms percussionist played in this style? I feel as if my transcription is lacking in a good drum part.
That two-beat style under the head is based on a 2/4 march. You can hear the piano playing stride style (ooom-chuk-ooom-chuk) and you should take your cue from that. They didn't always use ride cymbals back then and the time was largely kept on the snare and bass drum. Though, in that example he does go to a cymbal to change the texture. You can also use slightly sloshy hats (very lightly) to get some sustain. But don't lose the backbeat on 2 and 4. He's just playing quarters on the ride for the most part, not too many skip notes.

A very common pattern on the SD that I use and I've seen a lot of guys use is something that Baby Dodds used to play: Basically, you keep very light 1/4s with your right hand, but play a press roll on 2 and 4 with both sticks. Don't bash the thing, just lightly lay the sticks on the head to get some extension of the note. I tend to do this about half way between the middle of the head and the rim, which leaves you nicely placed to play light rimshots in your fills, if need be. Any fills that you play should stick to rounded eighth notes; there wasn't really a triplet thing happening yet.

As for the feet, generally if the bass player is playing in 2, I play the bass drum lightly on 1 and 3. If he's walking, I play all 4. But, there are times when I would play in 2 while the bass player walks, but you can't really go wrong with following them. Feather it, don't play too heavy, you're just there to give a little oooomph to the bass part. Save some room to play accents and play about an inch from the drum head or less. If you listen to that track, the bass player walks on the piano solo and the drummer changes textures to play light swung 4 on the hihats. You could play the BD lightly underneath those quarters, or you could leave the BD out altogether depending on the volume level of the gig and how well you have your feathering together. Too heavy and it'll feel like a rave...

The hihat wasn't always used with the foot while playing the snare but you can play it on 2 and 4 to help accentuate the back beat, especially when you go to the ride. Keep it light and snappy so the time feels like it's moving forward. Too heavy and your feel will sound choppy.


Senior Member
I can't thank you guys enough for this info. Topgun, I've been curious what they played with that old jazz feeling as well. Boomka and Too Many, the info and link you two has provided has been extremely informative. This is a great thread.


Gold Member
So it is basically second line? Sweet, I am very familiar with that style. To me, this specific drummer sounds like a mix between John Philip Susa marches and 2nd line.

If I can find it (I lost my music folder, with ALL my music from school), I'll tell you who did the transcription, it is just sub par in my opinion. For example, when they play the pattern that goes "1 2 3 a", the music wants me to play "1 2 a 3 + +" among other weird things.


Well-known member
Another resource for insight is the the Baby Dodds CD - Talking And Drum Solos.

Amazon has it.