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.

Continue reading “The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing”

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.

Continue reading “Starebaby Sheet Music”

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.

Continue reading “Belrak – Demonic Independence”

Marv Dahlgren

UPDATED: See Marv’s obituary below.

I was sad to learn of the passing of Marv Dahlgren last week. I was fortunate to see him last year in the audience for a jazz show by a couple of his former students, Phil Hey and Dave Hagedorn. They made a point of introducing him and the whole audience gave him a standing ovation.

What can be said about his influence on the drumming community? Marv was a beloved percussion instructor who authored and co-authored many influential books on drumming including 4-Way Coordination, Accent on Accents, and Drumset Control.

Many of Marv’s out of print books can be found at Really Good Music.

Marv was the former principal percussionist and assistant timpanist for the Minnesota Orchestra.  In addition to the albums he has made with the orchestra, Marv has also recorded with Cat Stevens and Leo Kottke and has performed on many jingles. Marv was also known as an excellent mallet player and performed on vibes with his own jazz group in venues around the Twin Cities.

Marv taught at the U of MN for 35 years; St. Olaf College for 20 years; McNally -Smith College for 26 years and Augsburg College for 9 years.

He has performed as a soloist with the MN Orch and played with many of the legends of Jazz including Oscar Peterson and Doc Severinsen.

Here is Leigh Kamman interviewing Marv in January 2001.

Obituary

Dahlgren, Marvin D. Age 93, lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, passed away at his Roseville home on Friday, April 6, 2018 while in hospice care. Remaining independent almost to the end, his was a life lived to the fullest. He will be greatly missed. Marv leaves a legacy of achievements that is hard to sum up in a few words.

He was an iconic figure in the local and national music scene, both as a consummate orchestral and jazz performer and as a teacher and clinician. His career included a nearly 50-year tenure as principal percussionist and assistant timpanist with the Minnesota Orchestra, teaching positions at various universities, and appearances as a drummer and vibraphonist with local and national jazz greats.

He was a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony, and has many recordings to his credit. Marv was also the owner of a drum shop, author of numerous well-known drum method books, and composer of jazz tunes.

In addition to his musical activities, Marv spent 20 years in the Navy, first in active duty as a Corsair fighter pilot during WWII and later in the Navy Reserve. Flying remained his passion even after he retired as lieutenant, and he went on to teach acrobatic flying in his spare time.

Marv touched the lives of countless people, not only through his many talents but also with his engaging personality and pleasant demeanor. There was always a twinkle in his eye, a story to be recounted, and a joke to be told. He had a generous spirit, giving freely to multiple charities and chairing and/or organizing hunger relief benefit projects.

Marv was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Ida Dahlgren, sisters Lorraine (Lilja) and Eileen (Ctibor), his wife Joan, and his stepson John Stieger. He is survived by his former wife Betty, son Todd (Chris), daughters Lisa (David Maguire) Dahlgren and Lynn (Nicholas) Fergusson, stepson Tom Stieger, stepdaughters Connie Stieger and Mary (Brian) Feist, eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and multiple nieces and nephews.

A musical Celebration of Life is planned for Sunday, June 17 from 1-5pm at the MacPhail Center for Music, 501 S. 2nd Street, Minneapolis. His final resting place will be at Fort Snelling in honor of his military service. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to one of the following organizations: Second Harvest Heartland, MacPhail Center for Music, American Heart Association.

Philly Joe Jones Solo Book

The Philly Joe Jones Solo Book is well worth the $50 price tag. It was transcribed over the course of 10 years by Joerg Eckel, a student of John Riley’s.

There are over 320 pages of Philly Joe Jones’s solos in the book. Each transcription includes stickings and lists the album that each solo is on.

You can still get a copy at Memphis Drum Shop. Highly recommended.

One concern I had is that the transcriptions are copies of handwritten music charts and may be harder to read for some people.

When I’m working on a solo, I’ll typically scan the page in so I can load it on my iPad and zoom in. I’ve even gone so far as to make an enlarged and darker photocopy. Either way is not a deal breaker for such an awesome resource.

Here’s a sample page so you can see for yourself:

And for those curious about the full list of songs/solos in the book, here is the table of contents.

Highly recommended!