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…
Other than Herbie’s shirt, this might be the hippest thing to ever air on a late night talk show. Sure, they don’t really have a chance to stretch, but these musical spots are usually confined to 3-4 minutes.
While I’m not a big fan of packing up everything you own, moving it into a new place and then unpacking again, it does tend have its little rewards. Like rediscovering items you forgot you even possessed. In this case, that item is Joe Henderson’s incredible 1979 album, “Relaxin’ at Camarillo”. I had purchased this record back in high school while going through my “must own everything Tony Williams ever played on” phase and somehow managed to lose track of it after 10 years of continuous moving from apartment to apartment in NYC.
Not only is Tony’s playing on this album mind blowing as usual, this record was a significant musical discovery for me because it introduced me to the fantastic drumming of Peter Erskine. Occupying the drum seat for half of the album, a 25 year old Erskine definitely holds his own alongside another legendary jazz musician, Chick Corea.
Today’s loop (and bonus pack for subscribers) was inspired by the opening track on Relaxin’ At Camarillo, “Y Todavia La Quiero”. Based around an 8 bar vamp, this song not only showcases Joe Henderson’s huge sound and improvisational genius, but also Peter Erskine’s knack for driving a band with dynamics, groove and his trademark musicality. Blurring the lines of latin, funk and rock, Peter takes the chops he honed while in Weather Report and pushes this quartet into new musical territory.
Subscribers, click on the picture of a scantily clad Erskine (you non-subscribers are really missing out… trust me) below to download the bonus pack containing 10 groove variations and fills (each in WAV, AIFF, REX2 formats) from this session.
74_SlowLow – This might be on the slower side, but it’s definitely not for ballads. With a touch of distortion and a heap of compression, this set of loops comes with a wide array of fills and transitions.
94_Seven – My first full set of odd meter loops, this series of grooves in 7/8 will help you start the next Mahavishnu Orchestra. Just tell Jan to leave the keytar at home.
136_Bembe – This is the complete session from the “Backwords Bembe” loop I posted a few weeks ago. From cowbell to ride cymbal to snare rim, this takes the 6/8 bembe pattern and moves it around the kit like a military brat.
166_Reggae – Straight out of the suburbs of Boston, this is as authentic as white boy, dubbed out reggae gets. Hat tips to both Stewart Copeland for the delays and Pete Thomas for the fills.
220_Tonyish – I’m not talking about that Tony. This is a set of grooves inspired by the one and only Mr. Williams. A mix of post bop, fusion and straight ahead, it’s everything you need to fire your current drummer and replace him with a laptop.
To become a subscriber and gain instant access to all of the 100 loops (AIFF, WAV and REX2) in Volume III, just click the button below.
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.