As I mentioned in my previous post, I was fortunate enough to finally become the owner my dream jazz kit, a Gretsch USA Custom. After breaking open my piggy bank and selling 63% of my bone marrow, I finally had the sufficient funds to make the trek up to the wonderful Drum Center of Portsmouth and pick her up.
And why are these drums so great? Well, it’s all about the way they SOUND. They have a certain characteristic and tone that only Gretsch drums seem to possess. It’s that warm, round, and focused sound heard on so many of the classic jazz albums featuring Max Roach, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and Art Blakey (just to name a few).
Today’s loop is a two measure clip from a marathon jazz/funk extravaganza that took place shortly after setting up the new kit in the studio. You’ll notice the nice, open tone of the 18″ bass drum, along with some very melodic sounding toms. For mic placement, I just used the overheads and (a touch of the Beta 52A on the kick) to capture the natural sound of the kit. I also completely ripped off Bill Stewart’s signature fills. Look for more Gretsch based loops to come soon…
I apologize for the lack of loops over the past few days. I’ve been busy updating my studio to Logic 9 and setting up a new iMac. Oh yeah, and I’ve been raking an insane amount of leaves. After spending the past eight years in NYC, with little more than 600 square feet to my name, I forgot what a massive pain in the ass a yard full of dead leaves can be.
Anyway, look for a bunch of new loops this week. Since I’ve doubled the size of my computer monitor, I figure I’ll be twice as productive when recording (or at least this is how I rationalized the purchase to my wife). In the meantime, here’s a live video from 1994 of John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart performing in Stuttgart, Germany. This track is called “Everybody’s Party” and can be found on their excellent Blue Note release, I Can See Your House From Here.
Fellow Des Moines native, Bill Stewart, shows us how to solo over a vamp in 3/4. I was lucky enough to see Bill play a lot while I was in high school. Whenever he was back from NYC during the holidays, he’d sit in with the local big band where his dad was a trombonist. Bill is a master at applying melodies to the kit and using polyrhythms to create moments of tension and release, all the while being 100% musical.
One of my biggest regrets is that I never saw Elvin Jones perform before he passed away. Whenever he was in New York, performing at The Blue Note or The Village Vanguard, it seemed like I always had a gig or a rehearsal and couldn’t make it to the show. I kept hearing from friends that he was still playing with the same fire and energy that he did in the 1960’s with Coltrane, to the point where it seemed like he getting better in his later years. I had a false assumption that age would never slow him down and I would have plenty of opportunities to witness one of the great masters in person.
I’ve noticed there seems to be a shortage of decent jazz drum loops out there and I’ve decided to do something about it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be recording a wide range of jazz grooves. Everything from Art Blakey Mambos to Vernel Fournier bush patterns. Today’s loop is the first of many more to come. It’s a groove in 3/4 inspired by Elvin with a bit of Bill Stewart thrown in.
There is a special feel that was born from the brass bands of New Orleans. It first emerged around the turn of the 20th century and eventually worked its way north, merging into other styles of music along the way. This is a groove that is neither triplet nor sixteenth note based. It’s not straight funk and it’s not totally swung. It’s somewhere in between. It’s a feel that’s literally impossible to notate on sheet music and even harder to play.
There are only a handful of drummers in modern music who can truly find this “in between” feel and make it work in a variety of musical settings. Two of my favorites are Bill Stewart and Idris Muhammad. Whether they’re keeping it cool on a straight ahead jazz session or laying down back beats behind a funk band, they always manage to find this rhythmic sweet-spot.
Today’s beat is a four measure loop based on this “in between” feel. It’s a lazy funk groove that borrows more than a few licks from Bill and Idris (guys, the po’ boys are on me next time). And you, sitting in front of your computer, don’t even think about touching that quantizer.