Here’s my loop response from the following request:
“I’d like something that can go behind a slow acoustic guitar without taking over.”
I immediately thought of Russ Kunkel’s brush-ballad playing from those early 1970’s James Taylor records. I tuned the snare down nice and low, kept the groove nice and simple and rounded things out with a bit of reverb.
While perusing the homepage of this site earlier today, making sure everything was in order, something jumped out at me: A major gap in my tempo categories! How did this happen? How have I not recorded anything between 260-300 BPM?? That’s prime wanking territory. I’ve spent years perfecting paradiddles and triple flama-ratama-dingdongs in the this range, yet I somehow neglected to record anything for this blog. I immediately went up to my studio, set the click track to 285 BPM and got to work.
The second-fastest loop yet to be released, today’s groove kicks of my new tempo category with some straight up bebop playing in the vein of Max Roach and Vernel Fournier. A four bar phrase with brushes on the snare drum, this uptempo jazz groove is one of many that I’ll be releasing in the next loop pack.
Yeah, I know I haven’t posted any “free” loops in the past few days. Things are a bit crazy at the moment… and there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. You shall see soon. To keep you entertained in the meantime, here’s a video of Clayton Cameron (Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett) demonstrating some very basic brush technique.
Well, I promised nothing but jazz this week and I’m staying true to my word. As much as I wanted to record some glam-rock, power ballad beats (trust me, they’re coming), I resisted the temptation and stayed focused on the “classic” stuff.
Like yesterday’s groove, today’s loop is another eight bar phrase, but at a brisker tempo and played with brushes. Stylistically, it’s a mix of all of my favorite brush players including; “Philly Joe” Jones, Max Roach and Vernel Fournier.
For my 50th loop I wanted to try something a bit different. No funk beats. No paradiddles. No wanking. I wanted to downsize and simplify. I wanted to see how much music I could make with a limited set of tools. I set forth some parameters:
One drum. One measure.
My initial instinct was to run to the safety of my snare drum, but I knew that would be the easy way out. It was time to explore uncharted waters. The threat of pirates only added to the excitement. I flipped my bass drum over and began hitting it with various things. Sticks, mallets, spatulas. Nothing was really working… until I grabbed some brushes.
It’s amazing how many frequencies you can pull out of one drum with a pair of brushes (especially when you start processing and mixing). With a bit of limiting and a dash of distortion, this loop soon took on an ominous life of its own.
For the geeks who are curious about the mic setup, I kept it pretty simple:
Everyone has an album that reminds them of their childhood. A certain recording that can instantly transport you back to being a little kid. For me, that album is Willie Nelson’s 1978 classic, “Stardust”.
Every time my family made the six hour drive to my grandparents’ house in Missouri, “Stardust” found its way into the in-dash cassette player. I’m not sure if my parents had inside, CIA-type information telling them that this album would relax their kids and make them stop beating the shit out of each other, but whatever the case, it worked. Willie possesses a voice cool enough to lull Michael Vick‘s backyard kennel into a deep sleep.
The man responsible for the ultra laid-back timekeeping on this recording (and many other great Willie Nelson albums) is drummer, Paul English. As far as their working relationship, I believe Willie described it best:
I’ve had four wives in the past 40 years, but only one drummer.
Paul must be doing something right.
Today’s loop pays homage to Paul English and his signature laid-back approach. With a brush in my right hand and a stick in my left, I tried to lay down something that sounded like an outtake from the “Stardust” sessions. Now, go pick up your old, beat up acoustic guitar and write some country ballads. Just don’t forget to pay your taxes next week.
Sorry things have been quiet around here. My wife and I went away for the weekend to celebrate our one year anniversary and for some reason, she wouldn’t let me bring my drums. Look for some new loops tomorrow.
In the meantime, check out this 1959 video of the Ahmad Jamal trio featuring the great Vernel Fournier on drums. Next to “Philly Joe” Jones, he’s one of my favorite brush players.