For musicians nowadays, the internet has become an indispensable educational tool and the opportunity to see as well as hear so many great players can provide plenty of inspiration for study. On a recent journey into the depths of YouTube I was drawn to the playing of the great Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts and especially his performances with Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis & Kenny Garrett. Playing in videos such as the one below sees Watts in characteristically adventurous mood:
Below is a phrase that, although not a direct transcription of his playing, I think captures a characteristic of the ‘Tain’ phrasing. It’s a variation of the triplet paradiddle-diddle played as a 3 beat phrase with rolling triplets that move over the bar line.
- Firstly, work through the phrase slowly, until it feels comfortable in your hands. Try and ‘ghost’ the snare and kick, with the the ride cymbal as the most prominent voice.
- Next, play the phrase as a 4 bar loop between the ride cymbal and snare drum and repeat.
- Now work through the different orchestrations of the phrase: Numbers 1 through 5.