The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing

The Jazz Musician's Guide to Creative Practicing

The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing by David Berkman isn’t a drum book, but it’s one of my favorites of all time and I count it right up there with Kenny Werner’s Effortless Mastery.

What this book provides is a way to approach practicing that actually makes the best use of your time and helps you to avoid pitfalls.

I first heard about The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing from drummer Phil Hey, who studied extensively with Ed Blackwell.

When he told me to get the book, I did not take the recommendation lightly. That said, if you’re like me you might be thinking something like “I already know how to practice” or “I’ve got my own system that works.” I get it and I put off picking up this book for a long time, which I regret.

The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing breaks down practicing many of the areas that jazz musicians struggle with in a way that makes them manageable and easier to master.

Some of the topics might lead you to believe that this isn’t a book for drummers. While it’s true that not every chapter will be as valuable for some, the book as a whole is wonderful. It’s filled with hundreds and hundreds of concrete things to work on, along with anecdotes illustrating the ideas presented.

The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing covers a really wide range of topics:

  • Basic jazz theory, clearly explained
  • How to practice tunes
  • Rhythm, deep groove, metronomes and odd meter
  • How to play fast without losing your ability to make the notes sing

Once again, do yourself a favor and get this book.

David Berkman is also the author of the famed Jazz Harmony Book, which I got to help me with piano and writing tunes.

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Starebaby Sheet Music

Starebaby sheet music and transcriptions are now available via drummer Dan Weiss’ online store. Featured scores include the Starebaby album as well as Dan’s solo albums Sixteen, Fourteen and Tintal Drumset Solos.

Get them here.

It’s really cool that these charts have been made available. The music is complex and being able to see it dissected is incredible valuable.

Dan gave me permission to post a sample from one of the scores. This is from Depredation. Notice that even the drum parts are transcribed.

Screenshot of a sheet music sample of the song Depredation by Starebaby

Read on for a little background on Starebaby.

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Belrak – Demonic Independence

Belrak drum book cover art

I heard about this drum book 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’s a book of patterns derived from traditional West African bell patterns and support rhythms.

I’m so glad I found out about it! I love working on 6/8 patterns and this is such fun material to practice. The rhythms are deep and challenging.

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

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.

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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
DRUMSVILLE!: EVOLUTION OF THE NEW ORLEANS BEAT

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.

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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.

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