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Showing posts from October, 2019

Learning to Play 'Free Jazz'

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This statement was posted on a Facebook music group the other day:

“I wish there were more resources on learning free jazz drumming techniques or finding your style... Even the less skilled free jazz drummers make some of the most technical rock drummers look like they don't know shit...”

I found this statement fascinating, as I play mostly free jazz/improvised music. There is a lot of misunderstanding and mystery surrounding this type of playing. And yes, many free jazz drummers have technique that would frighten away most drummers in other music genres.

Playing free jazz with fellow drummer Paul Westfahl
Defining Free Jazz

I always found the term free jazz to be a bit bewildering. To me, jazz implies the swing cymbal pattern—ding-ding-a ding-ding-a dingbehind the music. If you are truly playing free, then there should be no repeating swing pattern. I prefer the term improvised music, because that is what it really is: music improvised in the moment. It may at times have elements o…

So Long Mr. Baker…

So here we are and famed drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. He lived a hard life, fraught with drug abuse and health issues, so it's amazing that he made it this far. There have been various times in the past that it was announced that he had died, only to turn out to be false news. Sadly, today it is true.
I remember seeing Ginger & Cream on the Smother's Brothers TV show back in, I think, 1967. I was a very impressionable, young drummer and this was my Beatles moment (I was too young to get into the Beatles on Ed Sullivan thing), propelling me to become a rock drummer. Over the years I devoured his drumming, buying and studying every recording of his I could find. He was one of the first drummers to really combine the white European military style drumming (straight 8th notes) with the black African style (triplets). He played like no one else.
I was able to interview him back in the early 90s. I was fortunate to catch Ginger on a good day, and the interview I…