I had an interesting lesson recently with my teacher Mr. Mattacks. There’s always something new to learn especially from a master. Dave and I often discuss the most important things about drumming: time, feel, meter, touch, musicianship. On this particular day, DM was discussing the drum set groove coming from the bottom (the bass drum) as opposed to ‘top down drumming’. Not to say that the bass drum needs to be louder, just that if it’s the foundation of your house and has a great feel, the rhythms on top tend to stack in a more linear way and move the whole beat along smoother. He cited a contemporary of his as a great example of this kind of drumming, a fellow by the name of Andy Newmark. For those of you who haven’t heard Andy, just scroll through your iTunes for Sly & the Family Stone’s early stuff or John Lennon’s Double Fantasy record.
Here’s a Nils Lofgren tune that is dated and nerdy but has a great feel thanks to Andy:
And here’s Andy with Ron Wood, Keith Richards And The First Barbarians – “I Can Feel The Fire”
The best way I can describe how to move your drumming in this direction is to practice playing a very simple 4/4 rock groove with a drum machine or metronome. Start by playing the bass drum in the usual spots, on 1 & 3. Next displace the bass drum by an eighth note to the ‘and’ of 1 & 3. Keep moving it through until you arrive back at the 1 & 3 and challenge yourself that way. After that try 16th notes, playing that same very simple groove. The spot where most drummers tend to rush is the ‘and’ after 4 or the last 16th note, the ‘a’, which is why the tempo tends to speed up. Try practicing this exercise at different tempos and different dynamics, as well as injecting whole measures of rests. Doing that will help your ability to come in and out of songs smoothly and keeping the groove, which we frequently have to do.
Another exercise is to play strong quarter notes on the bass drum while practicing fills on the snare. Start with very simple fills. Really listen carefully to the alignment of notes with the snare and bass. Avoid ‘flamming’ any notes. The goal is to make the time feel great and groove while being able to express interesting musical ideas across the snare and kit.
Good luck with your progress and let me know how I can help!
On June 19th at The Moraine Farm in Beverly I was very fortunate to sit in for a few tunes with Devon Sproule & Paul Curreri at my close friends, Sean & Lilly’s wedding. I was familiar with Devon’s music but it was an absolute pleasure actually meeting Devon & Paul, and playing with them was a treat. It all came about because I put the band together for the wedding and some of Lilly’s friends and I got together and surprised the happy couple with one of their favorite artists.
Be sure to check out Devon’s website to buy her music and see when the next show in this area will happen. I’ll be there! www.devonsproule.com
I opened my mailbox the other day to find an interesting looking package with a familiar face on the front. I quickly opened it to find Inge Berge’s new record which I was pleased to discover that I’m on half of the tracks. My surprise wasn’t that I was somehow abducted by aliens and recorded these tracks in a trance ( although with Inge you never know ) it was simply that the record was recorded over a years time in several sessions. This is the most on record that I’ve ever contributed to any artist. I’m really pleased at how it came out.
The last track on the record called : Ah, This Vanity, is my favorite.
This was a drum solo I recorded at Brownsound back in 2000. It was inspired by my teacher at that time, Boston Jazz luminary: Bob Gullotti. The solo is followed by a song with a jazz project called The Barn Project and features an original composition by pianist Ben Zecker. Vincent Briguglio plays bass. Enjoy!