While I still practice with a metronome every day, I like to mix it up, especially when practicing jazz independence and sticking exercises. Lately I’ve been using Meet the Bass Player by Allan Cox. It’s a staple of my practice routine.
This playalong is simple, just bass and rhythm guitar that doesn’t get in the way.
There are a good range of tempos from slow to fast that make it usable whether I’m working on something for the first time or trying to push myself.
I’m currently working a lot on feathering the bass drum (with a strong hi-hat on 2 & 4 and a standard cymbal beat). Meet the Bass Player has been invaluable.
I end each practice session by focusing on my feathering technique with the bass tracks at 180bpm, 220bpm, 260bpm and 300bpm. Just two weeks ago my max was 260bpm, so I’m encouraged.
Here’s a detail of the tracks and tempos:
The other thing this jazz bassline playalong is great for is when working on brush patterns. Having a clean bass line to focus on really helps to hear the brush rhythms and highlights any weaknesses that may need to be worked on.
This is very easy to recommend and a great value at around $10.
I wanted to write a quick recommendation for a couple of drum books I use as an alternative to Ted Reed’s Syncopation.
If you’re a jazz drummer, then you probably know why this book is so popular and how it can be used. If you don’t, Alan Dawson will do a much better job of explaining than I do, so I recommend getting his book, The Complete Drummer’s Vocabulary. His exercises that use pages from Syncopation as a foundation are legendary and I spent a lot of time practicing them when I studied with John Ramsay at Berklee.
Having been through Syncopation so many times, my teacher recently recommended two books by Louis Bellson that are excellent. I’m surprised I had never owned either of them until now. One is in 4/4 and the other handles odd time signatures.
I recently started practicing Latin patterns and working out of the book New Ways of Brazilian Drumming by Sergio Gomes. I’ve also been working on Latin independence exercises while reading from the Ted Reed Syncopation book and playing those patterns with my left or right hand.
I quickly got tired of listening to a straight click while practicing and instead of programming the various clave patterns into my drum machine or computer, I searched for an app and found one that’s perfect!
The interface is brilliantly simple and gives me everything I need. Tempo adjustment, several different patterns, the ability to invert the clave from 3:2 to 2:3 and an option for low or high pitched claves.
I’ve been lucky to visit New Orleans a few times over the last year and since it’s Mardi Gras tomorrow, I wanted to give some love to Johnny Vidacovich.
Johnny is a legendary New Orleans musician and teacher, with students like Brian Blade and Stanton Moore. I was able to see him at the Maple Leaf over the holiday break and stand just a few feet from him while he grooved until 3am. He has a standing gig there every Thursday. Don’t miss it if you’re in New Orleans!
I will likely post more about Johnny in the future, but for now you should go check out his interview on Drummer’s Resource and then seek out the recordings he’s played on…and check him out live when you can.