Help! IDK how to play jazz

Cann_Man28

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I came to jazz from funk and rock. Based on my own experience, I would recommend you practice just your ride pattern for 5-10 minutes 3 to 4 times a day with the songs you working on. If you will be playing brushes, then ride with a brush on your snare too. To get between sections, play a 2 bar variation on the ride pattern instead of a fill.

As many have pointed out--this is right-hand lead music. You can add texture by playing the other limbs under the right hand, either together or against. But if you get just your right hand sounding good, it will keep everyone grooving including your other limbs. So record your right hand, listen back to it--does it make you want to dance? Is your feel consistent? Are all of your quarter notes strong? This is applicable for the "straight" songs too, play the right hand with a subtle lope on top of the hi-hats with the tip of the stick. That's over half the battle right there, everything else is just gravy.
 

Johnny K

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I would put all of Art Blakey's stuff into your iTunes and wear earbuds to bed and keep him on continuous play. Listen to him in the car, on the bus, on bike with Gus, etc. He is a meat and potatoes jazz drummer and IMHO he is the perfect gateway to jazz drumming. Start with Moanin and move on from there to Free For All and then A Night In Tunisia. He is not the best technical jazz drummer that ever was, but he drives the music like no other.

Best advice I got from a musical director we hired to refine our sound. Back off during the solo sections, especially the bass solos and listen to what your bandmates are doing. I tend to get most creative when our piano player is on it, and we trade 4's and 8's all time. I suspect this is true because the piano is a percussive instrument too.
 
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JonnyFranchi$e

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OK update here.

Since starting this, I've been playing. Tuned my kit up for jazz. And yes, I have been listening to a LOT of bepop (really this is stuff I've enjoyed or a long time anyway - but it's been a while since I went there as a listener). Art Blakey is a good choice. He's never been my favorite - Elvin Jones is my desert island jazz drummer - but yeah I listen to Blakey and go "I think I can kinda do that," whereas Jones or Williams are from another planet to me. Blakey, like Hank Mobley - very "of the people."

And I've been practicing whenever I can. Practicing my spang a lang, as the kids say - and different techniques for accenting and filling, being mindful of touch etc.

I'm not awesome at it, but I'm significantly better than I thought I was.

I am having A BLAST just swinging all over the place. I was just swinging and trying to add a measure of fill here and there, just to practice some phrasing to make it not sound dumb, without losing the swing. This is the first time I've given any sustained effort to getting decent at swinging jazz, and it is FUN.

I started trying to lay down 5 beat phrases over the 2 and 4 of the hi hat, see if I can do 2 of those in a row and come back to the swing. And after a few fall on my face moments, I was starting to get it. And it was actually really cool, like if they ever nod me out for a solo, I might go there - super interesting to play and listen to.

I feel like the guy from what about Bob where he's like "I'm SAILING!"

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.
 

Squirrel Man

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Post a recording of it if you can, love to hear it.
 

David M Scott

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I love your attitude. You'll be just fine. The key words that jumped out to me were "reception/cocktail-dinner hour". Relax. Play a lot of brushes and don't freak out about knowing kicks n hits. If you're not certain just swing through it. Have fun.
You hit the nail on the head. I’m 80 and still host and play jams weekly that vary from standard Jazz/Great American Song Book to Blues, Latin Soft Rock and the odd time Country .. which is so popular but trying, except Western/Texas swing
which is Jazz. The players are all very proficient, including some Pros and all have a different style and prospective in music. So in Jazz as the drummer is the basic time keeper “just be there“ especially in a Cocktail setting. Brushes are the key and Cymbals should be gentle. one trick I use to mute a Ride is to attach a regular plastic clothespin, the type with the rubber pads..buck a bag at Dollar Store. As for the kick.. mute it and use it for accents not straight through stuff. I use a Vader vintage Lambs Wool and it sounds great in small venues. The stick work in so much Jazz is on the Ride with the left hand doing small rolls or gentle taps. Keep Hi Hat going on 2 and 4 but quietly.
If Bass does solos, go onto closed Hi Hat and do small quiet fills with a light kick on the 1 to comp.
The key here is to be subtle even when they give you a small break ... less is more.. but don’t sweat it, let it flow. And going from being a confirmed Rock drummer to other genres can be a challenge. I had it as when I started everthing was 4/4 even Progressive Jazz. Pop on the Canadian Prairies was mainly White Covers of Detroit style Black music. When we finally got to hear the real stuff, a lot with 12/8 aka 6/8 time, I was flummoxed but intrigued. Took me a while to learn how to play it “in sync“ with the other instruments.
Swing On Man !
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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Tasteful/restrained and clear drumming? Billy higgins, frankie dunlop, ed thigpen and jeff hamilton come to mind. Have fun!
 

Corbin L Douthitt

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Experienced jazz cats:

Doing a wedding reception/cocktail-dinner hour piano trio jazz thing. There's 3 weeks practice time with very minimal time to practice and don't know what songs we're playing yet. (We're all friends in the same not-jazz band, but the piano and bass guys are fantastic and can totally roll the jazz like pros). The good news is these are our good friends, and it's a local reception just for close friends. The expectations are low. But I really want to do a good job because, well, they're our friends and I want the music to come off well.

I'm a decent drummer, but Jim Payne's funk drumming - funky pop-rock stuff. VERY rudimentary ability to swing and minimal to no jazz chops.

What kind of CRASH COURSE advice would you experienced jazz cats give me (no time to become literally good, but need to get good at faking it pretty fast here)? Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks
LISTEN to the jazz you will be expected to play. do not overplay!. PLAY to the music.. main thing is tempo and keeping time. The soloist may take off to la la land, and will need to hear (1) when he comes back down to earth- that's where you and the bass (or piano) are locked in- just keep the ride cymbal going. steady on the BD. Ghost notes on the snare usually work well on light jazz- a few accents on the BD when the lead hits a hard note.. DO NOT PLAY OVER THE LEAD.. Jazz is picky about who is 'talking, no one like to be talked over -' you 'comp' his playing- as in COMPLIMENT-accents- one or two beat accents- MAYBE a bar or two fill.. when he takes a breath- if you get an ugly stare, that means he wanted NOTHING heard at that point.. Jazz is fun. enjoy it..
 

Cann_Man28

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Sounds like you are ready for another challenge!

You can try singing the melodies of the songs you are practicing while playing the drums, both while playing along with a recording (just keep singing over all of the solos) or while practicing by yourself. Some cats use iReal Pro to play the bass and harmony parts of a song too.

Getting the melody in your head will let you play the song and instead of a drum beat.

Other benefits are improved time and feel, improved independence, better internalization of the song (for when you need trade or solo, or so you don't get lost during someone's solo), and practicing relaxing and breathing while playing.

In short, playing while singing a melody will refine ever you have been learning and practicing already.

Try it, if it's easy, than we know you are better than I, because it still messes me up. Especially with Brazilian music.

OK update here.

Since starting this, I've been playing. Tuned my kit up for jazz. And yes, I have been listening to a LOT of bepop (really this is stuff I've enjoyed or a long time anyway - but it's been a while since I went there as a listener). Art Blakey is a good choice. He's never been my favorite - Elvin Jones is my desert island jazz drummer - but yeah I listen to Blakey and go "I think I can kinda do that," whereas Jones or Williams are from another planet to me. Blakey, like Hank Mobley - very "of the people."

And I've been practicing whenever I can. Practicing my spang a lang, as the kids say - and different techniques for accenting and filling, being mindful of touch etc.

I'm not awesome at it, but I'm significantly better than I thought I was.

I am having A BLAST just swinging all over the place. I was just swinging and trying to add a measure of fill here and there, just to practice some phrasing to make it not sound dumb, without losing the swing. This is the first time I've given any sustained effort to getting decent at swinging jazz, and it is FUN.

I started trying to lay down 5 beat phrases over the 2 and 4 of the hi hat, see if I can do 2 of those in a row and come back to the swing. And after a few fall on my face moments, I was starting to get it. And it was actually really cool, like if they ever nod me out for a solo, I might go there - super interesting to play and listen to.

I feel like the guy from what about Bob where he's like "I'm SAILING!"

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.
 
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onacarom

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Experienced jazz cats:

Doing a wedding reception/cocktail-dinner hour piano trio jazz thing. There's 3 weeks practice time with very minimal time to practice and don't know what songs we're playing yet. (We're all friends in the same not-jazz band, but the piano and bass guys are fantastic and can totally roll the jazz like pros). The good news is these are our good friends, and it's a local reception just for close friends. The expectations are low. But I really want to do a good job because, well, they're our friends and I want the music to come off well.

I'm a decent drummer, but Jim Payne's funk drumming - funky pop-rock stuff. VERY rudimentary ability to swing and minimal to no jazz chops.

What kind of CRASH COURSE advice would you experienced jazz cats give me (no time to become literally good, but need to get good at faking it pretty fast here)? Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks
Hola @JonnyFranchi$e

I'm not a drummer but I think that for jazz rhythms, as for any other styles, it is also necessary that the bass be in that vein. Anyway when you do not know how to do, the personal fusion of how you feel what you would do is the best, softness, brushes and hi-hat
 

JDA

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help-idk-how-to-play-jazz.

~~~

"Well that's a start...
 

JonnyFranchi$e

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Old thread revival...

I'll try and probably fail to keep it brief.

***If you care at all but don't want to read a bunch of stuff about a random hacker playing a jazz trio reception gig, here's the gist: We played great as a band, everyone had a blast, it was well received and I am pretty mediocre at jazz but that's OK.***


We played for the reception tonight. About an hour - pretty equal mix of swinging standards, bossa nova and slower straight greaze soul-jazz grooves. (With a touch of harder-edge swinging bluesy Chicken Shack - delish).

OK, I am really and truly not a jazz drummer.

Some details:

The good news

  • Friends: Not only the entire guest-list but especially the other 2 guys in the band - we're all great friends. It was not at all a high pressure thing. Thus it was purely...

  • FUN: We had an absolutely BLAST! All 3 of us just smiling, just enjoying it together.

  • Variety: As noted above, a good mix. Which means we got to play some slower, LOW-DOWN greazy soul-jazz. Mercy Mercy Mercy and a really laid back Cissy Strut. For all three of us, this is way closer to where we live musically. I felt like I did a million years ago when I would partake in certain herbs. We also did a swinging version of an original instrumental we play in our "real band" - written by the bass player. That was WAY fun.

  • Organ trio more than piano trio: The 3 of us are used to playing together in more of a funky pop-rock 4-piece. My concern was that we would have to be all super quiet and controlled like a literal piano trio. Nope. The keyboard guy brought the Nord and was all over different organ and Rhodes toanz and stuff. Plus, the crowd was a ways away from us, outside, so we were encouraged to play with more dynamics. This allowed me to overplay compared to a tiny wine bar or something, which took some pressure off. We could DRIVE the music more than we would in a pure piano trio situation.

  • Did I mention FUN? I was way out of my element for most of it, but I like going out of my element. It was a musical adventure.

The "opportunities"

  • Tempo: Without the backbeat I'm so used to, it feels like a loss of control or something. So I found myself "fighting it" a little. Like "oh crap I'm slowing down or something". Not enough for listeners to really notice - but it was like floating in the ocean compared to the super-highway I'm used to playing backbeat grooves. Even backbeat grooves with swing.

  • Professionalism for lack of a better word: I pooped the bed probably once a song - quick little rabbit poopies that I don't think anyone outside of the band noticed, but they were there. I caught it and got it back very fast, but it was there. Consistency might be a better word. IDC though - I'm not a jazz drummer and the only way to get better with that is playing in those situations more, so it is what it is.

  • Gear: I LOVE my 60s Zildjian A ride. But it was too bright and...IDK...in the face too much? Too conspicuous? Too NOT dry? I like a washy ride. But DANG. So, too bad...I have to dream about more gear.

In general, super fun. If I can figure out how and get over the feeling of maybe everyone going wow this guy sucks, I'll try to post a song or two here.

We have another one mid December. That one's going to be a "real" reception though. This one was a local reception after they got married near their families a long way away - so really it was a huge outdoor party with a ton of really good friends. This next one will be another outdoor (of course) cocktail hour thing, but all the parents and stuff will be there - and they're paying us - so I'll keep practicing...

If anyone is still with me here: thanks again for the many encouragements and great advice. Spang-a-lang, baby!
 

Ian S

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Nice one Jonny, glad you had fun and oh.. embrace the rabbit poopies, these are your pellets of musical expression. And then make up a cute riff with comma or question mark, to punctuate the poops, and then just smile and nod as if you meant to do them exactly that way. ;-)
 

JDA

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  • Without the backbeat I'm so used to, it feels like a loss of control or something. So I found myself "fighting it" a little. Like "oh crap I'm slowing down or something". Not enough for listeners to really notice - but it was like floating in the ocean compared to the super-highway I'm used to playing backbeat grooves. Even backbeat grooves with swing.
not at your snare drum as much anymore.. the 2&4 backbeat is now..centered at, "right hand coming down on the ride cymbal and your left foot coming down on the hi hat pedal"

that's your guide stones (not the Georgia ones) your jazz ones;
try it
bkbt -almost entirely- L foot and R hand- is at those places places now.
 
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JazzDrumGuy

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Ok you survived AND had fun! Get some blue painters tape for under your ride to tame it and you can remove it later.....

Any pics of the gig or setup?
 

JimmySticks

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Way to go Johnny, you put yourself out there, you put your ego aside and just went for it and had fun. That’s really cool. Deep down I think your a future full time jazzer. :-D
 

JonnyFranchi$e

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Ok you survived AND had fun! Get some blue painters tape for under your ride to tame it and you can remove it later.....

Any pics of the gig or setup?
I got some with my ancient phone - my wife might have gotten some on her ancient phone too... It's always a production trying to upload pics, but hopefully I'll have some time this weekend.

I do have a decent audio recording. Don't know how to upload it though.
 


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