Night Splash

CAB – ‘Night Splash’

‘Night Splash’ was one of my favourites. It is a very technical track – odd time signatures, odd rhythms and some of Dennis Chamber’s signature ghost-note-fusion drum grooves. This was a real test for us as a band in rehearsal and we had to start it at a very slow speed. As the rehearsals progressed, we would gradually take the tempo up until we got it at the correct speed and in time. We would spend time just running the head section over, and then we would just run the alternating solo sections over. We would sometimes spend 15-20 minutes, just soloing for four bars each, which was exhausting, but did bring some really creative ideas to the table. This kind of rehearsing allowed us to get to grips with the way we all improvised and exited solo sections. It did help us switch off and try and just improvise. I found that after so many cycles, you are constantly thinking ‘I’ve got 12 bars to think; what am I going to do next?’. It was quite interesting, as for me I found that once I thought that I had exhausted my ideas, I would land in the solo section and just have to play whatever came to mind. Occasionally I would end up playing certain safety fills and licks that we all have to get out of trouble, but on other times I felt as close to truly improvising as I ever have done. The fact that we had all been rehearsing together for a good while also helped a great deal, as we were all less worried about making mistakes in front of each other and more interested in generating some musical ideas. There were so many benefits to learning and rehearsing ‘Night Splash’, and it is only looking back now that I can truly appreciate what we had done. When we played the track on the night, I felt that I was able to communicate the ideas that I wanted to, the head and grooves I felt were tight and sat well so I was very pleased.

Buenos Aires

Najee – ‘Buenos Aires’ (Stanley Clarke, Live @ The Greek version)

‘Buenos Aires’ is another track we all really enjoyed learning. The groove on this one was quite complicated, consisting of a displaced snare drum pattern accompanied with a lot of ghost notes. I used a lot of the research I did into improvisation for this one. The drum solo was just drums only, so I have attempted to incorporate technical flare and fills with elements of groove. I rehearsed the solo, taking of the snare wires and bringing in the cowbell and toms to try and match the style of the piece and to try and stick with elements of the original.



So You Say

Dennis Chambers, John Scofield – ‘So You Say’

I’ve been rehearsing this track a lot recently after initially being struck by that big drum intro. The hands play in a linear fashion throughout the grove, giving it a slightly loose sway. The bass drum kicks in with 16th notes and the snare falls on the back beat initially, then on the last 16th note beat 3. For the majority of the track, the other notes are all played quieter, ghosted between the cowbell, hi-hats, ride and snare.

The kick and snare pattern is the same throughout and was easy enough to grasp, so a lot of my attention was focussed on locking the hand pattern and keeping that in time with my feet.

The sticking pattern throughout is as follows (bold letters indicate the beginning of each beat)

R L R R   L R L R  L R R L  R L R L

It seemed like quite a complex groove to approach, but I managed to use knowledge of existing rudiments to my advantage. Rather than think of the sticking pattern as one long complex section, I split it up into 3 different sections.

I could tell right away that the groove sounded like it had some sort of paradiddle in there, and this is the approach I took:

[R L R R   L R L]  [R  L R R L]  [R L R L]

The first grouping is just a regular paradiddle, with one 16th note shaved off the end. The second grouping is again just a paradiddle, but only the first five notes. The third and final grouping is just four single strokes.

This may at first seem as or more complex than it needs to be, but it worked for me for a number of reasons. The first grouping is just a paradiddle (RLRR LRLL) with a 16th note taken off the end. I found that starting the second grouping where I have helps to assert the offbeat push at the end of beat 2. I have used the first five notes for my section, as when I tried to think of it as section 1 but just repeated, it always seemed that the two 16th notes at the very end were just tagged on. As a result I would always stumble through. The third section, consisting of four single strokes helped me to reset in my own mind and get back to the start of the pattern. These four can also be transferred around the kit easily, helping to open my mind in terms of dynamics and fills. There are many different ways in which you could divide the pattern, but this is the approach that felt the most natural to me. Once I had decided on those groupings, I ran the pattern over a good number of times, moving it around the kit.


[Update – 12/10/12]

On the night I was happy with how the performance of this track went. Myself and the bassist Oscar had to really be on the ball, as we were playing different rhythms which all linked in together. The complexity of the part made it hard for me to listen to what Oscar was playing on bass, but it seemed to go well, and I really enjoyed the track.


Matias Damato Band – ‘Tuken’

‘Tuken’ did not seem like too much of a challenge initially, but once we had the structure down the work then really began on the intricacies and nuances of the song. We decided to perform this track for a number of different reasons, but there were a few specific techniques that I was eager to demonstrate myself within the drum part. The feel of the song I found very interesting, and this is what drew me in initially.

  • The song has a ‘straight’ feel, however it has a slight funky bounce to it, at times implying triplets at times. I found that it can be tough at times gauging exactly where a groove falls between ‘straight’ and ‘swung’ feel. Too much either way and the song looses that funky feel.
  • There are quite a few sudden dynamic changes. We rehearsed dropping and raising the dynamics without disturbing the tempo, which was quite tricky. Throughout the rehearsals, as soon as we would hit the quiet sections, I could feel us all wanting to pull the tempo down.
  • Throughout the verse there are number of ‘pushes’ and ‘stabs’ which took a lot of rehearsing. These ‘stabs’ almost always fall on a 16th note before or after the beat, so to get them sounding good and precise we all had to really be on the ball.


Earth Wind and Fire – ‘Getaway’ (Andrew Gouche version)

‘Getaway’ kicks in with some odd off beat pushes, and for the most part consists of a 4/4 funk groove. This track has an odd structure; the head consisting of uneven bar numbers and the odd 2/4 bar here and there. The jam section was tricky in this one, as it went over a strange chord progression:

[Fm9 /// | Bbm9 ///| Fm9 / Bbm9 /| Dbm9 ///]

There is a push on the last 16th note before each chord too which made for some interesting rhythmic fills. The only downside to this is that as a drummer, these 16th anticipations often lead to you finishing a fill on the opposite hand than usual. This isn’t usually a problem but can get tricky when doing other rhythms such as triplets across different drums. The improvised sections were inspired a lot by the original track, which leans into a number of different genres, including fusion, funk, gospel and RnB. We spent a lot of time just jamming over ideas and a lot of the ideas we improvised in rehearsals became themes that we used for the final performance.

I thought the live performance of the track went well overall, and I focused on locking my kick drum in with the bass line. The groove is very punchy, and through rehearsals we found that keeping the kick drum and bass guitar linked tightly was the key to this. During the live performance, I think on the whole it went well. The solos built nicely, however there was a technical problem with Phil’s guitar amp which threw us off with some of the themes linking to other sections, but we managed to get through.



The Sorceress

For today’s rehearsal, we’ll be looking at a Chick Corea track called ‘The Sorceress’. Should be an interesting one to run through. There are quite a few different riffs, changes in feel and tempo, odd bars and more. The majority of the song consists of solo and improvisational sections, so we will all have to watch each other closely and build the dynamics together. Below is a drum transcription and the actual track we have been looking at.

Chick Corea – The Sorceress [PDF – Drum Transcription]


So today I have started really looking in detail at some of the parts that I want to learn. I’ve been working on the intro to Jeff Beck’s ‘Led Boots’. A great groove by Vinnie, which I’ve transcribed below. On the second beat of the first two bars I added an extra couple of ghost notes- I think Vinnie actually does it at some point. I’m not sure, but it just felt right!


Watching the River Flow – Lead Sheet

One of the tracks that I want to do for the first recital is a song called ‘Watching the River Flow’, by Steve Gadd & The Gadd Gand. The track was originally written by Bob Dylan and released in 1971. Gadd grooves an amazing Chicago blues shuffle, throwing his signature ‘fall off’ fills and other tasteful drum licks throughout. Below is a sheet I’ve written as a live performance guide, and I’m sure I’ll end up transcribing some of Gadd’s prominent ideas in this track at some point too. Again, the tab line is just a guide following what Cornell Dupree is doing for the most of it, feeling through some pentatonic ideas.

The lead sheet with the guitar tab line: Page 1Page 2

[click to enlarge]

Seven Days – Sheet

Here’s a transcription I managed to pull together. It is just a chord sheet with the bass line, mainly so that I can take this to a band for live performance. I put this together in Sibelius myself, but managed to retrieve the bass line and quite a few chords on-line: