The Jazz Ride Cymbal Beat

A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
great lesson as always Andrew

I had a great teacher named Fred Dinkins who used to tell me .....play your ride cymbal along with Jimmy Cobb and maybe one day you will be able to play along with Elvin Jones

I didnt know what he meant until I started doing it

I love to play ride cymbal along with these guys to really get a feel for where they place their quarter notes

some of my favorites to practice to would be
Jimmy Cobb
Roy Haynes
Philly Joe
Art Blakey
Ed Blackwell
Mel Lewis
and actually Steve Gadd.....love how he places his quarter note
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I always get excited when you start a thread, Andrew, because I know I'm gonna love it.

I studied with a drummer who studied with Art. My teacher traveled to NYC as a young man and made it his mission to meet Art and get some mentoring from one of his idols. He hung out in front of Art's home, begging him to teach him something. One day, Art invited him in and my teacher got his wish. As it turned out, my teacher wound up staying at Art's place for a week and learned not only a lot about music, but about life.

The funny thing about ride cymbal playing is there are different ways to get there. I remember my teacher talking about accenting 2 and 4, but then I recall reading a piece by Chuck Israels, written from a bassist's perspective, where he talked about the importance of accenting the quarter note pulse. Of course, if you listen to Elvin and Max, you can't get much more different, right? There are different paths and more than one way to swing.

I guess Philly Joe was the first cat whose ride cymbal sound I tried to cop. I loved Miles' Prestige dates so much, and that rhythm section always felt so good. But I loved how Max did it, especially at those breakneck tempos. I had never heard anything like that before him, so that was another huge influence. Elvin really turned my head around, especially the way he seemed to be locked almost in a battle with that cymbal, like a swashbuckler in a swordfight. Elvin's feel was way different and made a really deep impression on me.

Then, I heard Tony on the '64 My Funny Valentine + Four and More record. That completely f****d me up. I was never the same. I started checking out his other stuff with Miles and those Blue Notes from the 1963-1965 period. Tony's articulation and dexterity, just the groove and the sound he got from that cymbal, ruined me for life. The way he'd lay into the cymbal and then drive the band with accents, like a horse bucking its rider off the saddle. Man...

There are so many greats. Roy's sound, Jack's sound. The ride sound is the drummer's most identifiable stamp. That's what his sound is all about.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I like how you went all Mr. Rogers at the beginning there.

At any rate, good stuff as usual. I also came from a "back beat" style drum background like you said, and one thing that really helped me nail the jazz ride cymbal was to add in the 2 and 4 on the hats... For me that was what it took to understand where the cymbal should be played within a standard count of 4. This let me swing "between" the beat... I took it slow, counted triplets, and eventually got to where it felt better, as long as I could anchor things on the 2 and 4 with my left foot. I'm still struggling a bit with my left foot independence on that front when playing jazz.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I always get excited when you start a thread, Andrew, because I know I'm gonna love it.

I studied with a drummer who studied with Art. My teacher traveled to NYC as a young man and made it his mission to meet Art and get some mentoring from one of his idols. He hung out in front of Art's home, begging him to teach him something. One day, Art invited him in and my teacher got his wish. As it turned out, my teacher wound up staying at Art's place for a week and learned not only a lot about music, but about life.

The funny thing about ride cymbal playing is there are different ways to get there. I remember my teacher talking about accenting 2 and 4, but then I recall reading a piece by Chuck Israels, written from a bassist's perspective, where he talked about the importance of accenting the quarter note pulse. Of course, if you listen to Elvin and Max, you can't get much more different, right? There are different paths and more than one way to swing.

I guess Philly Joe was the first cat whose ride cymbal sound I tried to cop. I loved Miles' Prestige dates so much, and that rhythm section always felt so good. But I loved how Max did it, especially at those breakneck tempos. I had never heard anything like that before him, so that was another huge influence. Elvin really turned my head around, especially the way he seemed to be locked almost in a battle with that cymbal, like a swashbuckler in a swordfight. Elvin's feel was way different and made a really deep impression on me.

Then, I heard Tony on the '64 My Funny Valentine + Four and More record. That completely f****d me up. I was never the same. I started checking out his other stuff with Miles and those Blue Notes from the 1963-1965 period. Tony's articulation and dexterity, just the groove and the sound he got from that cymbal, ruined me for life. The way he'd lay into the cymbal and then drive the band with accents, like a horse bucking its rider off the saddle. Man...

There are so many greats. Roy's sound, Jack's sound. The ride sound is the drummer's most identifiable stamp. That's what his sound is all about.
absolutely 8

these cats ride cymbal playing is like their voice....you can always tell who's speaking

cats like Elvin, Tony, Morello, Roy, Blakey we could pick out within 2 seconds of the bead hitting the cymbal

such an artform
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think the recordings that made the biggest impression on me for the ride cymbal were:

Miles Davis w/Tony Williams - Nefertiti (specifically the tune Madness), Four & More
McCoy Tyner w/Elvin Jones - The Real McCoy (Passion Dance, Contemplation)
John Coltrane w/Elvin Jones - Coltrane Plays The Blues, Live at the Village Vanguard (Chasin' the Trane), Coltrane (Tunji)
Don Cherry w/Billy Higgins - Art Deco
Pat Metheny w/Jack Dejohnette - 80/81 (Turnaround)
Keith Jarrett w/Dejohnette - Changes

Roy Haynes came a little bit later for me w/Now He Sings, and Metheny's Question and Answer.

I was also listening to a lot of Blakey- I got to see him play in '85- he just wailed the crap out of this 22" heavy 602- he was laying into it with his whole forearm. It took me awhile to unlearn that...
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Beautiful discussion guys!

I love all the recommendations and anecdotes. Todd, I am going to have to investigate some of the recordings on your list that I haven't spent enough time with.

8, great Blakey story, makes me want to hear more! Also agree that there are many ways/philosophies on swinging.

G, couldn't agree more about how distinctive each of the masters' ride cymbal beat is, so inspiring!

Dr., I hear you on anchoring the time to the hihat and learning about subdividing with triplets. I followed a similar process. The reason I have gotten away from those things in my approach was that I felt that isolating the ride cymbal would help emphasize it's importance as well as eventually give drummers the ability to move the other limbs around underneath it with more confidence (as you mentioned). As far as the counting thing goes, I personally feel that the sooner you can get young drummers away from the idea of counting and towards the idea of hearing, the better/more deeply they will learn something. I also think that there are many good ways to learn, that is just my personal bias.
 

brittc89

Pioneer Member
Some of my favorite dudes to play just my ride to:

Billy Higgins ("Evidence" by Steve Lacy was one of the first jazz albums I played with)

Ed Blackwell ("Complete Communion" by Don Cherry consistently blows me away)

Daniel Humair (taught me that a bright ride cymbal could sound good)

Max Roach (been obsessing over the time feel on "Money Jungle" lately, not to mention "The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan")

Danny Richmond (because its crazy to play with Mingus)

Barry Altschul (I especially love playing my ride along to the Paul Bley Trio recod "Blood")
 
I'm not a Jazz ride player but I really enjoy listening and learning from:
Tony Williams
Billy Cobham (fusion)
Leon Ndugu Chancler (fusion)
Steve Ferrone (fusion)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
As far as the counting thing goes, I personally feel that the sooner you can get young drummers away from the idea of counting and towards the idea of hearing, the better/more deeply they will learn something. I also think that there are many good ways to learn, that is just my personal bias.
I totally get where you're coming from. The way I look at it, counting is for learning, feeling is for playing. I never count when playing with a band or going through a song. I do admit to typically using a sub-division count as a crutch when I'm trying to learn a specific rhythm though... I start very slow to try and burn in the correct space, then speed up and do it by feel alone.

I'm actually of a similar mind when it comes to clicks. I would almost always opt to play anything (especially jazz) without a click, but I still use a metronome when I'm learning or working on rudiments, etc... This actually brings up a great point from your video. One of the things I liked about watching you stand there with a ride cymbal for the song, was it highlighted visually how the tempo would ever so slightly gain or lose urgency and dynamic presence from part to part... Surely a huge part of the appeal in Art's performance is the way this 'simple' pattern is applied over the form.

And back to the OP, I've got my ride cymbal set on the stand which usually has my practice pad. Cheers.
 

richkenyon

Silver Member
I enjoyed your video - you talk a lot of sense! Your demo was really swinging too!

I really believe the concept of how to play the jazz ride beat is affected, at least in part, by Tempo. My basic approach, not unique to me(!), is to state the quarter notes evenly at slower tempos, moving to the 2 and 4 emphasis, as per your demonstration, when the tempo gets beyond a certain point. I can't specify that point - that's a choice. At fast tempos the beat gets flattened out.

Now, the other issue is the articulation of the skip beat. In simple terms the player needs to explore playing it "as written" at first: I teach this by having all the triplets in the bar played lightly on the snare until the student can hear the subdivision correctly.

The next step is to explore a straighter, or "flattened" beat, and later a tighter skip beat - what you might describe as being more like a division in 5. I tend to actually accent the "skip" (anticipated) part of the figure when playing that approach. I'm trying to think where I heard that... will have to do some research!
 

richkenyon

Silver Member
Just to add to what I was referring to in my post... I have a couple of videos that are just practises, not instructional or anything. However in the first one I play some medium/quick swing with the "backbeat" emphasis; on the next video around 1.50 there's a bit of slow swing with the closed skip-beat idea using the emphasis I described earlier. I think anyone looking at the ride beat needs explore these options.

BTW - I hope your website brings you some students, rather then guys just getting your good advice for free. It's a bit of an unknown quantity I always think!

http://youtu.be/HVQMq9742wA

http://youtu.be/0jgLlis9SO0
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Some other favorite ride cymbal-playing examples:

Elvin Jones on Wayne Shorter's Speak No Evil, especially Witch Hunt. As great as Elvin is with Trane, some of my favorite work he's done is on Blue Notes like this one.

Joe Chambers on Bobby Hutcherson's Patterns, especially the Stanley Cowell tune, Effi. Great feel, great sound. Joe just had a way with 3/4 time. He plays with great restraint on this tune. You can imagine Elvin taking the same tune and really ramping it up with intense flourishes during the solo sections, which would also be great. But Chambers holds back to the point where it's tantalizing. You keep waiting for him to really wail but he teases you delirious by holding back.

Shelly Manne on Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, from Shelly Manne And His Men: At The Manne-Hole. Manne played beautiful ride. He swings like crazy and it seems to me he was one of the first cats to turn the beat around on the ride.

Billy Higgins on Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman, off The Shape Of Jazz To Come. Billy brought the swinging foundation to a very experimental group. His ride on this tune is fast and steady and is a huge part of the forward motion of the tune.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I enjoyed your video - you talk a lot of sense! Your demo was really swinging too!

I really believe the concept of how to play the jazz ride beat is affected, at least in part, by Tempo. My basic approach, not unique to me(!), is to state the quarter notes evenly at slower tempos, moving to the 2 and 4 emphasis, as per your demonstration, when the tempo gets beyond a certain point. I can't specify that point - that's a choice. At fast tempos the beat gets flattened out.

Now, the other issue is the articulation of the skip beat. In simple terms the player needs to explore playing it "as written" at first: I teach this by having all the triplets in the bar played lightly on the snare until the student can hear the subdivision correctly.

The next step is to explore a straighter, or "flattened" beat, and later a tighter skip beat - what you might describe as being more like a division in 5. I tend to actually accent the "skip" (anticipated) part of the figure when playing that approach. I'm trying to think where I heard that... will have to do some research!
Thanks for the feedback Rich!

I was intrigued by your idea of the subdivision of the tighter skip beat. Interesting stuff. I usually hear that tighter sound when a bass player is playing in 2, and I liked the way you were phrasing it in your video. I have always thought of that tighter sound as just a straight dotted-eighth followed by a sixteenth note, are you actually thinking of groups of 5 when you are playing?
 
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