Smitty’s Rudiment Ritual Warm-Up

Scattered pages of Smitty's Rudiment Ritual Warm-up
Marvin Smitty Smith’s Rudiment Ritual Warm-Up

I’ve been practicing Alan Dawson’s Rudimental Ritual for many years and return to it often. Recently I heard about Smitty’s Rudiment Ritual Warm-Up on Jon McCaslin’s interview with Thomas Wendt and Eric Binder (worth checking out).

I can’t believe that was my first time hearing about it! I figured that a quick search on Google would turn up a PDF and I’d have something new to practice. I was wrong.

I became obsessed with finding it and stayed up way too late scouring the internet. I ended up reaching out to other jazz drummers to see if anyone had a copy they’d be willing to share. When I woke up the next morning I had a PDF in my email from a drummer who I have never met. The community of drummers is amazing!

I’ve since sent Mr. Smith a message on Instagram asking if I could purchase a copy directly from him or send him some money for his work. I haven’t heard back, so if anyone is in contact with him please send him my way.

As much as I’d love to share the PDF here, without Smitty’s permission I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I hope he shares it more widely someday.

I’m still digging into Smitty’s ritual and taking it line by line. All of the ideas flow nicely and there are many challenging sections that have been fun to work up to speed.

In addition to the snare drum version, I also discovered a version for drumset that Karl Miklin has developed. It’s really fun and I usually play a page from it each day to get my shoulders and spine loosened up. There’s a link to download it on his YouTube video page.

Happy practicing!

Paul Motian Documentary

One of the many things I love about being a musician is the deep well of inspiration that will never stop providing if you keep an open mind and open ears.

I’ve known about Paul Motian and listened to his playing countless times with Bill Evans, but until a few years ago that’s about as far as I’ve gone. I think I subconsciously avoided his solo work because I was overwhelmed with where to start or how to wrap my head around it.

That was until I met Colin Stranahan after a gig in Minneapolis. He showed me one of his own original compositions and told me about how big of an influence Paul Motian has been on him, both as a drummer and musician. That made a big impression on me and as soon as I got home I ordered both volumes of The Compositions of Paul Motian and began listening to the Uncle Paul’s Jazz Closet podcast as a way to dive in.

Recently I was reminded about the Paul Motian documentary “Motian in Motion” and found it available online. It’s a beautiful film filled with wonderful footage of Paul both on and off the stage. There are too many great moments to mention and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Since watching the documentary I’ve been listening to Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band almost exclusively. Hearing familiar tunes is a really great path into his playing and will no doubt lead my ears down paths that I’ve yet to discover.

Jack DeJohnette Instructional Video

In the first of a few posts where I admit to being late to the party, I wanted to make sure that the video Jack DeJohnette – “Musical Expression On The Drum Set” gets a little promotion.

This came out around the time that I was at Berklee and I hadn’t started to wrap my head around Jack’s playing yet. Somehow this one slipped by me at the time. Admitting that I saw this video for the first time in 2022 doesn’t feel great, but I’m glad I finally watched it. I know many drummers that wore this video out in the 90s.

Jack’s playing is great and the interviewer is thoughtful, asking just the right questions to get Jack to open up on topics ranging from relaxation, dynamics, brushes, and playing musically over the bar line. There are lots of gems here!

If you’re new to getting into Jack DeJohnette or just want some more inspiration, check out the great Drum Candy podcast episode 10 Reasons to Love Jack DeJohnette.

Billy Drummond: Freedom of Ideas

I’ve been aware of Billy Drummond for years but really started digging into his playing in 2018 after Frank Kimbrough released Monk’s Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk. There’s a lot of music there (70 tracks!) and I had the time to check out the whole thing on a road trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans at the end of that year.

His sound, touch, and creativity on that recording lit something up inside of me and I’ve been obsessively listening to him since. There’s a richness and depth to his playing that I just can’t get enough of.

In addition to his extensive work as a side player, Drummond’s solo work stands on its own. His album “Dubai” is a masterpiece and the title track is hypnotic. Despite being released almost 30 years ago, it still sounds fresh.

More recently, Billy Drummond has been playing with his new group Freedom of Ideas. I had the pleasure of seeing them live the weekend before they recorded the new album, which they announced at the gig.

To say that I’m excited about the new album is an understatement. I hope to see the band live again soon. Get Valse Sinistre by Freedom of Ideas on Bandcamp.

Here are a couple of Spotify playlists that I put together. Let me know if I’m missing anything.

Roy Brooks – The Free Slave

As we’re celebrating Juneteenth in the United States, I can’t help but think about drummer Roy Brooks and his album The Free Slave. One of my drum teachers let me borrow it years ago and it’s been a favorite ever since.

Roy Brooks is perhaps most known for his time with Horace Silver. Check him out on Doin’ the Thing (live at the Village Vanguard).

The Free Slave, released under Roy’s name, is a fantastic live album recorded in 1970 and released in 1972. It features an incredible band: Woody Shaw, George Coleman, Hugh Lawson, and Cecil McBee. The band is really dialed in and having fun. Roy Brooks sounds as strong as ever. Check out his solo on “Five for Max.”

What I love about this album is the energy from the crowd. Their love and support for this band is undeniable. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! It’s pretty easy to find online and CD copies are still around on the used market.