Uptempo Swing Patterns
Every drummer knows that there are countless ways to play the same grooves. Using a variety of techniques, the same patterns can feel very different for both the drummer and the rest of the band. These differences may seem subtle at first, but the trained ear will recognize the different sounds each technique can produce. Some lend themselves will to articulate, fast playing, and others to slow, legato feels. Fast swing grooves really exemplify this concept clearly.
John Riley's Approach to Uptempo Swing Grooves
John Riley is well known for his fantastic educational products about jazz drumming. Obviously, his swing patterns are fantastic! Riley uses a technique I first saw Jojo Mayer using - the push-pull technique. In fact, Johnny Rabb showed this to me during a lesson, calling it "the three bomb." Riley just swings it hard! This technique allows fast, articulate, and defined strokes. This is absolutely perfect for fast swing grooves. Notice how the fingers are heavily involved, pulling back briskly during the third hit of each motion. It allows for a very high level of dynamic control, as well, since I can accent the push, the pull, or both.
Check out John Riley's fantastic jazz books. I've practiced from both these books, and find his methods to be very practical. It really trains your brain to think like a jazz drummer.
Or, if you like DVD's, here's what you're looking for!
The Technique of Antonio Sanchez
Taking a close look at Antonio Sanchez gives us a different perspective. His demonstration at slow tempos looks similar to Riley's technique, but in a different position. He places his thumb on top of the stick rather than along the side. Much of the motion also comes from the elbow and shoulder, not just wrists and fingers. He explains this around 2:45.
Once he starts moving faster, he appears to be pushing into the stick and using rebound, rather than pulling up on the stick. Though, it is very hard to see exactly what is going on, and even harder for him to explain. If you listen to his solo work or his playing with Pat Metheny, his strokes still sound very clean and defined.
For more information, get a copy of his DVD. It sits near the top of my stack of DVD's, because it features performances of him playing his own tunes, and tunes from the Pat Metheny group. He gets into deep detail on his practice routines, his technique, and his philosophy of drumming.
If you can't wait to hear more (why should you?), get the MP3 download of his latest album "Migration" right now!
Ian Froman's grip looks a lot like Antonio's. However, he uses heavier sticks, and his setup sounds more clangy than clean. This is one of my favorite video lesson series, where Ian explains his conceptual approach to jazz phrasing and coordination. After studying with Elvin Jones, Froman really realized the importance of maintaining an organic feeling in jazz music.
My favorite Ian Froman album, you ask? His work with Wolfgang Schalk, undoubtedly.