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

Philly Joe Jones Solo Book (update)

Since my original post in 2017 there has been a major update to the Philly Joe Jones solo book, so I decided that it’s time to make a new post and give some additional info.

Philly Joe Jones Solo Book cover

The first thing you’ll notice is that the cover has been updated with a modern and full color design, but the real update is that there are 60 new pages! There are now over 380 pages of Philly Joe Jones drum solo transcriptions in the book.

The Philly Joe Jones Solo Book is well worth the $60 price tag. The solos were transcribed over the course of 10+ years by Joerg Eckel, a student of John Riley’s and a really nice guy!

Using the book

Each transcription includes suggested stickings and lists the album that each solo is on. It’s my understanding that Joerg worked with John Riley and Kenny Washington to figure out common stickings that Philly Joe used.

In 2020, the Memphis Drum Shop had John Riley in to show off his cymbal collection and while he was there he also talked about the Philly Joe Jones solo book by Joerg Eckel. John does a great job demonstrating some of the stickings used in the book and it will give you a good overview.

I typically learn the solos by ear and then use the transcriptions to check myself or get help with a sticking if I’m fumbling too much, but I usually try to get the sound of each phrase in my own hands instead of forcing something that might feel awkward for me.

Philly Joe’s strong rudimental foundation:

It’s well known that Philly Joe Jones worked out of the Charley Wilcoxon Modern Rudimental Swing Solos book religiously and Kenny Washington also speaks incredibly highly of that book. If you don’t have it, get it!

Sample page

The transcriptions are copies of handwritten music charts and might be harder to read for some people, but don’t let that be a dealbreaker. 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 sometimes made an enlarged & darker photocopy so I can make notes and mark up the pages.

Here’s a sample page from the book that Joerg gave me permission to share:

Pot Luck solo transcription page

Where to buy the book

Memphis Drum Shop, Steve Maxwell Drum Shop, and Columbus Percussion have the new version of the book in stock. Whether you have the original version or not, the new one is worth getting!

If you live outside of the United States and can’t find it online, you can likely order it from the author directly. Leave a comment or send an email to me and I’ll do my best to connect you.

Table of contents

Here are a couple of photos of the table of contents, listing all of the Philly Joe Jones drum solo transcriptions in the book. I’ll also list them out as text below.

Philly Joe Jones Solo Book table of contents 1
Philly Joe Jones Solo Book table of contents 2
Continue reading “Philly Joe Jones Solo Book (update)”

Philly Joe Jones Solo Book with John Riley

The Memphis Drum Shop recently had John Riley in to show off his cymbal collection and while he was there he also talked about the great Philly Joe Jones solo book by Joerg Eckel. It’s always great to hear John play and he does a good job here demonstrating some of the stickings used in the book.

The new and updated version of the book is now officially available. Just to be clear, the black cover is the new version.

Memphis Drum Shop, Steve Maxwell Drum Shop, and Columbus Percussion have the new version of the book in stock. Whether you have the original version or not, the new one is worth getting!