Becoming a Jazz Drummer at 57

Roch

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Listen. Try to emulate. Play along. Repeat.
Doing a lot of playing along. Mostly a lot of work on the ride cymbal. Still pretty clueless on the snare drum with my left hand. Going over comp exercises every night. Playing them is coming along. My main disconnect is when I’m not reading and playing along to bass. I’m having a hard time with free thought and creating my own patterns, rhythms, etc...
 

JDA

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just play little push beats
2) you have rim click on '4'
3) rim click on 2 & tomtom 4& (everyonehatesbutuses)..
4) little ruff's just to move the beat along; 5. sometimes to answerback patterns a horn or lead instrument makes)
6. there's still a 2 & 4 in jazz al ot of people misss
 
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AtlantaDrumGuy

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Doing a lot of playing along. Mostly a lot of work on the ride cymbal. Still pretty clueless on the snare drum with my left hand. Going over comp exercises every night. Playing them is coming along. My main disconnect is when I’m not reading and playing along to bass. I’m having a hard time with free thought and creating my own patterns, rhythms, etc...
The ideal thing is to find an experienced jazz drummer in your area to show you the ropes. That’s how they did it in the old days. No books. Aural tradition.

It’s hard to explain in writing. I was lucky to find good teacher in my teens that was an actual jazz drummer (not a rock player who tried to dabble in it).

Several things need to happen first. Listen and watch the greats first. Seek out one full record with each of these guys.
Gene Krupa
Kenny Clarke.
Papa Jo Jones. Stay here for awhile and don’t move further. This is important.

next, One recording with Max Roach and Art Blakey.

next, one recording with Philly Joe Jones and Mel Lewis.

next, one recording with Tony Williams and Elvin Jones. This covers a very basic timeline of some of the prominent players.

Work on the right hand swing pattern only. Best to have an experienced person show. Start to use the Chapin book and SLOWLY add the left hand figures with the right hand swing pattern.
Learn to add the 2 and 4 hi hat with foot. Do the Chapin stuff with the bass drum next....can do that later.

Develop the basic vocabulary first, and keep listening. Then play along only using the ride. In time, you’ll start to come up with your left hand ideas and can use all 4 limbs.

jazz is the key foundation for it all. Before rock, there was jazz. Kids learn it in the wrong order today.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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Not to derail, but on a broader point...jazz is becoming a lost art because fewer and fewer masters are around. And most band directors and teachers at local drum stores...well...most of them are clueless when it comes to jazz drumming. It’s the honest truth. It’s really tough to learn jazz properly from someone who doesn’t truly play that music. (Meaning, they play gigs and they didn’t just study jazz history for their music Ed requirement).

I’m sorry, but high schools are too focused on things like marching band, and not enough about teaching real art forms such as jazz music. Anyways, it’s becoming more rare.
 

CSR

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Hum tunes to yourself while you solo. A solo is a musical story...a beginning, a middle, and a climax. Tell stories that reflect how you’re feeling... happy, sad, tired, angry, frustrated, in love...
 

PaulD

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Not to derail, but on a broader point...jazz is becoming a lost art because fewer and fewer masters are around. And most band directors and teachers at local drum stores...well...most of them are clueless when it comes to jazz drumming. It’s the honest truth. It’s really tough to learn jazz properly from someone who doesn’t truly play that music. (Meaning, they play gigs and they didn’t just study jazz history for their music Ed requirement).

I’m sorry, but high schools are too focused on things like marching band, and not enough about teaching real art forms such as jazz music. Anyways, it’s becoming more rare.
I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but as someone who was in marching band (and drum corps) over 30 years ago, bullshit on a number of levels. The discipline and work ethic it teaches is huge and yes, it's an art form (go listen to how some of those kids play).

On another level, I invite you to come listen to the high school orchestra my daughter plays cello in, or the jazz band the school has. They're seriously excellent. I like jazz but there are other valid musical forms too.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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That’s fine. Been there done that. I was in marching band, orchestra, symphonic band, jazz band, drummer for chorus. I still think much emphasis is on marching band for many high schools. Does that mean every school? No. I’m glad to hear that your kid’s school has good programs. My thing is that well rounded programs (that also emphasize things like jazz) are nice to see.
 

PaulD

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Unfortunately, in a lot of schools, music is one of the first things to get cut. Even if it is funded, it's hard to justify if it doesn't serve as many kids as possible. Jazz, by its nature, is difficult if you have a lot of kids. If you have 20 kids who want to play drums, it pretty much means marching band.
 

Angelo Zollo

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Tommy Igoe is a great way to start. Start slow!



then work up to...


don't forget Bossa:


and shuffle:


Roach, Morello, and Rich will take years/ a lifetime....
I completely agree with CSR. Groove Essentials will give you some basic swing applications. Get them feeling good and then turn on some music and give it a go!
 

Pounder

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Jazz is alive and well, being taught more than ever in many colleges and universities. It isn't as predominant, obviously. the advent of the machine is displacing jazz, in a way.

To paraphrase David King from a Modern Drummer article, I think he said something like "you oughta spend a bunch of time on getting your swing ride pattern down, because until you do, you're not going to go anywhere in jazz. So when I looked David up I found this clinic:



Additionally, I would suggest attempting to tie in different genres, so that you can find the common musical thread that exists between all these genres. Honestly if you listen to it, the snare backbeat harkens back to the hihat pulse. Often jazz exists in swing feel or maybe close to a triple feel. Don't be afraid to be a student of the art form. But look for elements that are common between Jazz and the other genres, as I believe compartmentalization can inhibit creativity and block potential avenues of discovery of new styles. OPEN MIND..

Also I want to state my appreciation for some of these people who may have ideas that seem so far out of the box that it exceeds understanding. Sometime, maybe the mind will open and the joy and freedom of being able to play in the flow--be it with jazz or other styles--will find you!
 
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Johnny K

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Doing a lot of playing along. Mostly a lot of work on the ride cymbal. Still pretty clueless on the snare drum with my left hand. Going over comp exercises every night. Playing them is coming along. My main disconnect is when I’m not reading and playing along to bass. I’m having a hard time with free thought and creating my own patterns, rhythms, etc...
Our paths are pretty close to being the same. Drums have been a newer road to for me, but I've been a guitar player for a very long time so playing music has not. That fact has been more of a help than a hindrance in my drum journey. I at least understand musicality and improvisation. When i started my drum journey, I didn't care to bother with rock and pop and I had the goal of just being a good blues and jazz drummer. In fact I have a hard time playing a straight 8 groove. But it's getting better as the blues drumming requires playing songs that have a straight 8 feel.

As far as jazz goes I can play "THE PATTERN" all day and at just about any tempo so long as the left stick is still in the bag. I put a a lot of time into it. However, once the left hand has to do stuff, then things tend to break down for me. The thing that has been a big help to me for my left hand is Page 9 of the Riley book. You indicated that already have it. Treat that page like pages 5-7 of Stick Control and just work those exercises over and over again all the time increasing tempos. It took me almost 6 months working on it for a couple hours a week (i have a day job) to get it down and do them all at 120bpm. I still use it and I still struggle with it. My problem was worrying about not playing the ride spangalang perfectly every measure. I found out thru listening to a lot of great jazz drummers, that it breaks down occasionally even for them and at faster tempos it's inevitable. As long as the quarter note pulse is there the groove will swing. So I stopped worrying about it. Being able to swing is the thing and always knowing where the 1 is. I listen to a lot of Art Blakey. Blakey's style is way more accessible to me than anyone else since he plays more 2 & 4 back beats than most jazz drummers. A song like Moanin' is an example of this, since he's playing a jazz shuffle. He is a gateway (I think) to the more technically gifted guys like Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette. My current struggle is Joe Morello as the jazz band i'm in wants to do Take 5. A year ago this would be scary. Now not so much.
 

RIDDIM

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You're very well served to listen to the classic jazz albums relentlessly until the feel and approach is in your bones. Kind of Blue, Soul Station, etc.
- Exactly. This applies to any idiom, but here especially, because it's not just based on playing a groove: get to where you can sing every, melody and everyone else's part. Then you'll understand why the drummer, if he or she was a musician, did what he or she did and when you're faced with a new tune or band, you'll never be at a loss for what to play. Then check out other versions of the tune - and who the drummer in question listened to. If you're serious about this, it's like being a doctor - the research never stops - and the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know, and how we all hear things differently.

It's fun!
 

RIDDIM

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I agree with all the above. But being a visual guy, I also need to watch videos of the masters and accomplished players actually playing up close. I want to see what they're doing with they're hands and feet. "How" they get those sounds, fills, patterns, move from drum to drum and cymbal to cymbal, etc. While I can 'hear' what they're doing to some extent, it becomes much clearer when I see them doing it.
- Most of us are fairly decent at figuring out what someone did - fewer at grasping why they did it. Once you understand the why, what to play becomes apparent. More importantly, you'll be able to make your own statement rather than repeat what someone else did.
 
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Johnny K

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This is not directed at anyone in particular...I highly recommend paying the 10 bucks a month for iTunes Unlimited. There is more jazz on there than you or I can ever hope to listen to in a lifetime. I make up playlists for the tunes we cover and listen to them over and over and over and over etc. There are more versions of A Night In Tunisia than you can shake a drum stick at.

And thoughtfully, a lot of work is done for you. I have many "Essential" playlists sorted by drummers that iTunes made up, I have Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Jack DeJohnette, Max Roach and band leaders too, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, etc.

Not for nothing, but a common theme for all these guys is rivited Zildjian K rides
 


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