Pete LaRoca

I got a little obsessed with Pete LaRoca the other day after seeing this video of him with Art Farmer. I really dig his playing.

Eventually I made my way to his Wikipedia page and found this fascinating bit:

“In 1968 he stopped taking side-man gigs, and only accepted work as a band leader/drummer. La Roca began earning a living by driving a taxi cab in New York City, and later attended law school at New York University. When his second album as leader, Turkish Women at the Bath, was released under Chick Corea’s name without La Roca’s consent, La Roca filed and argued a lawsuit against Douglas Records, and the erroneously-labeled records were recalled.

He returned to jazz in 1979, and recorded one new album as a leader, Swing Time (Blue Note, 1997).”

REFLEXX Practice Pad

REFLEXX practice pad

I’ve used a lot of practice pads over the years, but the REFLEXX is hands down my favorite. I was lucky enough to get one before the first run sold out and have had it for a few months. This practice pad not only feels great, but it sounds great. It’s much quieter than any other pad I own.

I go back and forth between the new REFLEXX and the ProLogix Blue Lightning depending on how much bounce I want. I’ll also defer to the REFLEXX if it’s later at night and I don’t want to wake up my girlfriend in the other room.

A new batch is for sale and shipping soon.

Highly recommended as an addition to any practice pad collection.

Happy New Year!

Note: This is not an advertisement.

Smalls Jazz Club Live

I want to give some love to Smalls Jazz Club. If you’re in New York, it’s a great place to see live jazz for an affordable cover charge. On any given week you can see some of the best musicians in the world in this intimate space. If you can’t get there, you can stream shows live from their website for free. The quality is superb.

Smalls Jazz ClubI first discovered the live stream this summer and was blown away. Over the last several months I’ve got to see and hear Ari Hoenig, Ralph Peterson, Eric Harland, Victor Lewis, Marvin “Bugalu” Smith and so many more amazing players from the comfort of my studio in Minneapolis. This week alone Ulysses Owens Jr. and Eric McPherson are playing there. Next week you can catch Ari Hoenig with Chris Potter. Crazy!

And it gets even better. For only $10 a month you can have access to their archives. If you can, do this not only as a way to access live music, but to support a wonderful club.

I’d recommend checking out Ralph Peterson’s recent sets and also studying the Teodross Avery set.

I met Teodross at Berklee in 1993 and have reconnected with him since, so I wanted to check out what he’s up to. His set at Smalls in October 2016 is burning! Every single member of the band is on fire and Marvin “Bugalu” Smith blew my mind. How had I not heard him before? His playing that night grabbed a strong hold on me, even through the internet. I highly recommend checking out his playing. He’s deep. I still watch or listen to that set about once a week.

Thank you, Smalls!

Triplet Warm Up Exercise

For most of my life warm up exercises were always something I did before gigs. I never really thought too much about warming up for a practice session. Lately, I’m finding that I can practice much longer (physically and mentally) if I warm up.

As with my last post, I try to make sure that I’m not just going through the motions while warming up, but working on something with purpose that’s helping me grow in some way at the same time.

Here’s a simple one that’s great to start slow to work on control while building up the muscle memory to effortlessly pull off singles, doubles and paradiddles between the snare drum and bass drum while playing the standard jazz cymbal pattern.

Download as PDF

Triplet Warm Up for Jazz Drummers

Download as PDF

Coordination Confusion

I’ve been doing a new practice warm-up that has been an excellent tool for growth and also jumpstarts my concentration and attention for the rest of my practice session.

In my practice journal I call it “coordination confusion.”
PDF Download

I keep it slow to encourage concentration and control, usually between 60-80 bpm.

Coordination Confusion exercise for drummers

 

Coordination Confusion – PDF Download

 

Hands: RLRL RLRL RLRL RLRL
Feet: RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL

Once that’s comfortable, I keep the same pattern with the feet, but flip the hands.

Hands: LRLR LRLR LRLR LRLR
Feet: RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL

Next up is flipping the paradiddle I have going with the bass drum and hi-hat pedals.

Hands: RLRL RLRL RLRL RLRL
Feet: LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRR

&

Hands: LRLR LRLR LRLR LRLR
Feet: LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRR

I try switching patterns every 4-8 measures. Remember, this is not about speed. It’s about control of your mind and body to set you up for a focused practice session.

Once this gets easy (and it will with time), play doubles with the hands at the same eighth note rate.

Hands: RRLL RRLL RRLL RRLL
Feet: RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL

Hands: LLRR LLRR LLRR LLRR
Feet: RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL

Hands: RRLL RRLL RRLL RRLL
Feet: LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRR

Hands: LLRR LLRR LLRR LLRR
Feet: LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRR

Bonus: Move from eighth notes to triplets for an added challenge.

Coordination Confusion – PDF Download