Apologies for the lack of posts of late. A bout of sinusitis immediately followed by the flu put me out of action for a couple of weeks, but I’m back in the game now and have plenty of new ideas to share with you all. Today we’re working on a classic Alan Dawson right hand lead technique. I was reminded of this useful approach by the excellent Justin Varnes who spotted Antonio Sanchez using it in a live video. The basic premise is that you play 8th note phrases with your right hand, and fill in the triplets with your left hand.
Each of the exercises below have a recognisable tune so try and keep this in mind as you play. Play 4 bars of time followed by exercise 1. Repeat for all 10 exercises as in the video below:
Exercises 8,9 & 10 use a technique known as rhythmic transposition which is when a phrase is stretched or squashed in order to make the time sound like it is being slowed down or sped up. Keeping in mind an emphasis on melody, sing your own simple phrases, then apply them using the right hand lead technique.
Delve into the playing of Latin and Afro-Cuban drummers and you’ll find a huge resource of material for improving your co-ordination and polyrhythms. I regularly use this vocabulary in Jazz but, even if you never find a use for this material on a gig, it will still prove amazingly useful as a practice tool. These rhythms are simply the best way to develop your multi-limb coordination.
Below is a transcription from an Antonio Sanchez LP YouTube video. I decided to transcribe it after hearing the Afro-Cuban style groove mid-way through (from around 4:09). It has an infectious lilt that I thought would sound great as an Elvin Jones style outro vamp groove. The B section is a demostration of using the 2/3 Rhumba Clave on a left-foot cowbell. This will certainly test your co-ordination and, although you may never use it on a gig, will certainly help to develop your 4 limb independence.
Below are 22 bars of pure melodic phrasing, surely the ultimate aim for any soloist. In the video below, Sanchez demonstrates the power of the drum ‘hook’ – a phrase chosen for its melodic and compositional appeal rather than for any technical reasons. The solo is from a Chick Corea Trio live video on YouTube. Antonio is trading choruses with Chick so will be using Chick’s solo as inspiration for his own.
I was turned onto this video by the prolific Justin Varnes who posted a video lesson on it recently. Varnes focuses on the phrasing mid-way through the first chorus which use a right hand leading/left hand filling in the gaps method ala Alan Dawson. The second chorus makes use of some great double handed phrases which are so melodic you can sing along to them; a compliment any drummer should be proud of!
The first solo starts at :40