Belrak – Demonic Independence

Belrak drum book cover

I’ve been playing 6/8 my whole life…this book is some of the most complicated 2 against 3 that I’ve ever come across.

Kassa Overall

I’m so glad I found out about this book by Jerry Leake. It’s such fun material to practice and the rhythms are deep.

I heard about it in an interview with drummer Kassa Overall on the Third Story podcast. He was talking about what things he’s practicing and mentioned Belrak.

It took me a minute to find because I was searching for “Bell Rack,” but the full title is Belrak – Demonic Independence Using 12/8 & 24/8 Superstructures and you can get it for just $5 as a PDF.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

From the book publisher:

Derived from traditional West African bell patterns and support rhythms, the 200+ variations in this intensive study are derived from traditional African bell patterns from the Ewe people of coastal Ghana. This work represents the culmination of over 30 years of studying African music with teachers in Ghana and Boston.

About Jerry Leake

Jerry Leake is an Associate Professor of Percussion at Berklee College of Music where he teaches several classes on World Percussion, and a Survey of African and Afro-Cuban styles for members of the prestigious Berklee Global Jazz Institute directed by Danilo Perez and Marco Pignataro. At Berklee Jerry also teaches private lessons on Drum Set (with an emphasis on adapting world rhythms), North Indian Tabla, Afro-Cuban Congas, Vibraphone, and World Rhythm Theory using his “Harmonic Time” method.

Jerry is also a longtime faculty member of the New England Conservatory of Music where he is a member of both the Jazz Department (directed by Ken Schaphorst) and the Contemporary Improvisation Department (directed by Hankus Netsky). At NEC Jerry teaches classes on “Development of Rhythm Skills,” “Survey of African Music and Dance,” and “World Percussion.” He also leads the African Drumming Ensemble, and teaches privates lesson on Drum Set, African and Indian Percussion, and World Rhythm Theory.

Go get Belrak and check out Jerry’s other work at Rhombus Publishing.

Drumsville at the New Orleans Jazz Museum

New Orleans Jazz Museum Drumsville

Some good news for jazz fans and drummers traveling through New Orleans this winter. Below is some info from the New Orleans Jazz Museum website.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum presents

New Exhibition at the Jazz Museum Celebrating the Development of the Drum Set and Evolution of Drumming Traditions in New Orleans opened on November 8, 2018 and runs through March 15, 2019.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum will debuted a new exhibition, Drumsville!: Evolution of the New Orleans Beat on November 8, 2018. The exhibit will celebrate both the New Orleans Tricentennial and International Drum Month, along with the development of the drum kit in New Orleans and the ongoing evolution of rich local drumming traditions.

“We have such an incredible collection of drum kits from some of the most talented and influential New Orleans drummers,” said Greg Lambousy, New Orleans Jazz Museum Director.  “One of the most significant is Baby Dodds’ white-pearl Ludwig kit. We acquired the drums in 2000 and are excited to display them along with the kits of other New Orleans rhythmic trailblazers.”

Drumming reaches back to the eighteenth-century foundations of New Orleans—in terms of both the Africans who performed throughout the region, eventually organizing drum circles in Congo Square, and the European marching bands of the colonial militias, operas, concerts, and balls.

Drumming plays a central role in the evolution of African American and local music traditions. Brass bands, which included multiple percussionists performing on bass and snare drums and cymbals, have flourished in the city throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to today.

A crucial transition in the development of the drum kit was the development of the bass drum pedal, which enabled a single drummer to simultaneously perform on multiple drums and cymbals. One of the earliest bass pedals was used by New Orleans drummer Edward “Dee Dee” Chandler. The only extant photograph of Chandler, dated 1896, shows his rudimentary bass pedal in the lower left corner of a band portrait.

“Drumsville! The Evolution of the New Orleans Beat coincides perfectly with the city’s Tricentennial,” added Robert H. Cataliotti, Music Critic and Guest Curator of Drumsville! “The exhibit traces the essential and innovative role that drumming has played from the Sunday gathering of people of African descent in nineteenth century Congo Square to today’s thriving music scene.

New Orleans drummers were central to the development of the drum set, and the beats they created and continue to create are definitive in jazz — traditional to modern, R&B, rock ‘n roll and funk.”

In 1909, The Ludwig Company patented a bass drum pedal, and that, along with the invention of a snare drum stand, launched the development of the drum kit, perfectly in sync with the blossoming of jazz. New Orleans drummers were at the forefront in defining what it means to play this new, distinctively American, instrument.

Probably the most renowned aspect of New Orleans rhythmic legacy is the “second line” rhythm that emerged from brass band parades. New Orleans drummers adapted this distinct rhythm to many musical contexts, including brass bands, traditional and modern jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and funk. The second line tradition continues to this day in the Crescent City.

“New Orleans is a Beat town, whether it’s the backbeat, front beat, second line, drop 4, triggerman, or stanky funk,” said David Kunian, New Orleans Jazz Museum Music Curator. “This exhibit demonstrates how that evolved from Congo Square and First Peoples to whatever you are hearing tonight on Oak Street, N. White Street, or St. Claude Avenue.  You can see the first run of bass pedals, Baby Dodds’ drum set, and many other examples that make it as easy to see as the metal on your cymbals: In New Orleans, drums are Queen!”

Drumsville! will begin with the legacy of Congo Square, including traditional African percussion instruments from the Southern University at New Orleans African Art Collection, and move through the brass band tradition to the introduction of the bass drum pedal and development of the drum kit and the extensive legacy of drummers to emerge in New Orleans over the past century.

Drawing upon the Jazz Museum’s large and unique archive of historic instruments, drum kits and equipment will be featured from such New Orleans legends as Papa Jack Laine, Baby Dodds, Paul Barbarin, Louis Barbarin, Cie Frazier, Ray Bauduc, CoCoMo Joe Barthlemy, Earl Palmer, Idris Muhammad, Zigaboo Modeliste, and James Black. In addition, contemporary New Orleans drum masters Johnny Vidacovich, Herlin Riley, Shannon Powell, and Stanton Moore will generously equipment from their personal collections.

Drumsville! will also examine related traditions of improvised percussion instruments and the tambourine, and conclude with the next generation of drummers, testifying to the vibrancy of the city’s drumming tradition.

Drumsville! will be on display through March 15, 2019.

Daily admission to the Jazz Museum is $6.00 for adults; $5.00 for students with I.D., senior citizens (65+) and members of the military. School groups meeting required criteria and children 6 and under are admitted free. Located at 400 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116 with an additional entrance at 401 Barracks Street, the Museum resides at the intersection of Esplanade and Decatur Streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a Louisiana State Museum.

Founded in 1906, Louisiana State Museum is a system of National Historic Landmarks and architecturally significant structures housing a half-million artifacts that showcase the state’s history and culture. For more information, please call 504-568-2566 or visit

An Interview with Marvin Bugalu Smith

I’ve posted about Marvin Bugalu Smith before. Last week he did a gig at Small’s in NYC with saxophonist Teodross Avery. If you haven’t heard their duo album, check it out: Post Modern Trap Music.

Today I was thrilled to find a new interview video that is full of his wisdom and amazing playing. It’s a short film called Through Time by Matteo Sandrini and Mimmo Impiombato, created in 2017 when Marvin was touring Italy.


Here’s a bit of raw footage from the gig at Small’s: