The Art of The Vamp

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.

Art Taylor
Art Taylor

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:

Loop #78

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).

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220 BPM