Wrist Twisters

Book cover of Wrist Twisters by Elden C. "Buster" Bailey

I posted about the Wrist Twisters book by Elden “Buster” Bailey on Instagram and wanted to share here as well since I don’t see a lot of people talking about this book. It’s a fun one.

Each page is full of two bar phrases in various time signatures. I like using it as my morning warm up by picking a couple of lines and looping them while watching TV or listening to a podcast in the background.

You can buy the book from Steve Weiss Music, which is a great shop for drum books. Here’s a blurb from Steve Weiss, followed by a look inside the book.

After 40 years with the New York Philharmonic and more than twenty years teaching at the Juilliard School, Elden “Buster” Bailey, one of the greatest snare drummers and snare drum teachers of all time, has finally written a snare drum book! It’s called Wrist Twisters, but it’s much more than what the title might suggest. Everyone who has seen it says it is an instant classic. It includes a CD of Buster’s playing and a discography of great snare drum performances with the New York Philharmonic. Scott Stevens of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra worked with Buster for more than three years to compile and organize the materials Buster has been gathering for the last forty years. Percussionists everywhere will be forever grateful to Buster and Scott for their efforts. The Introduction is by Christopher Lamb of the New York Philharmonic and Manhattan School of Music. 132 pages plus CD.

You can buy the book from Steve Weiss Music.

Counting Stick Control

Here’s a quick post to promote a really great book, especially for those of us who haven’t spent too much time beyond the initial pages of Stick Control.

Barry James, the author of Counting Stick Control, is one of the last living students of Stone and has some valuable insights into the counting method Stone intended to be used with this book.

Barry is currently battling cancer and could use your support by ordering his book or donating to his GoFundMe.

To order a book, the easiest way is to reach out to Bart over at the Drum History Podcast. He’s helping Barry out with some of the administration and logistics.

Email Bart: drumhistorypodcast@gmail.com

Best wishes to Barry and a big thanks to Bart for helping him out!

Big Band Drum Books

The last couple of months have been very busy, but I’ve been finding some time to work on big band drumming. It’s something that I’ve never really put energy toward outside of high school and college.

Naturally, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole and found a great playlist by Rick Dior where he breaks down big band playing and mentions some books that I’ll link to below.

I’m not sure that I aspire to do much serious playing in a big band, but it’s been a good way to shake up my practice routine while working on many things at once: reading, setups, time/feel, and playing with recordings.

The books I’ll link to below are simply the ones that I’ve purchased and am enjoying. There are many others available and if there’s something worth checking out that I haven’t listed, please drop it in the comments.

Harold Jones Interpretation of Big Band Swing Drumming

I’ve talked to many drummers who consider Harold Jones their favorite of the later Basie drummers. He played with Basie from 1968 – 1972.

Danny Gottlieb has done an amazing amount of work to put this book together, working directly with Harold Jones to chart out 76 tunes and provide Harold’s notes for each. This is a gold mine!

Harold Jones Interpretation of Big Band Swing Drumming

Gottlieb has recently released two similar volumes that cover Mel Lewis’ playing with the Terry Gibbs Dream Band: Volume 1 & Volume 2.


The Jazz Drummer’s Reading Workshop

This book by Tom Morgan provides sequential exercises that gradually add new setup figures and longer etudes to help build a vocabulary for playing big band charts. All recordings of the exercises and play-along tracks are available as downloadable MP3s.

This has been a fun one to work out of.

The Jazz Drummer's Reading Workshop

And here are several more that I purchased based on Rick Dior’s recommendation.


Finally, here’s a great Count Basie performance featuring Butch Miles on drums. His energy is undeniable and will live on forever. Rest in peace.

There are two driving principles in my drumming. The first came from my teacher Mr. Frank Thompson who told me, “Always let the band know where ‘1’ is.” The second came from the great Count Basie who said, “LISTEN.”

Butch Miles