As you might recall, I previously blogged about Art Taylor and his masterful uptempo timekeeping. Tonight, I’d like to focus on another aspect of his legendary drumming: playing over vamps.
For those of you who are new to this term (my wife just asked why I was writing about vampires), here’s a quick definition: A vamp is a repeating musical figure or accompaniment. A vamp may consist of a single chord or a sequence of chords played in a repeated rhythm
This sounds deceptively simple, but locking in with a band making it all swing is the hard part. Check out Art’s playing on John Coltrane’s “Syeeda’s Song Flute” to hear what I’m talking about:
Tonight’s loop is an 8 bar vamp that emphasizes the “1” and the “and” of 2 of each measure. This is one of the more traditional rhythmic phrases in jazz vamps and is usually supported along with the piano and bass… and guitar (couldn’t leave Wes out).
So, rather unintentionally, it’s turned into “jazz week” over here at ryangruss.com. Maybe it’s the large supply of ride cymbals I currently possess, or maybe it’s just the warm spring air inspiring me to play something other than Top 40-friendly backbeats. Whatever the case, I keep recording various jazz grooves every time I step into the studio… and like REO Speedwagon once said, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore“.
Today’s loop is an eight bar phrase that incorporates a few things that were inspired by the great Tony Williams. No, I didn’t paint my kit canary-yellow and put black dot heads on every drum (though I’ve thought about it). I incorporated Tony’s distinct, hi hat on every beat approach (instead of the more traditional 2 & 4) along with some single stroke rolls and aggressive ride playing.