Our last drummer's challenge was purely on time. This week, we will focus on the fundamentals of swing.
When I asked one of my instructors for advice on developing a better swing, he told me to get Clifford Brown's A Study in Brown and shed the heck out of it. His rationale was simple, if you want to get a great fundamentals lesson in swing go to the source... Max Roach.
He wasn't lying.
There is a reason that Max shares billing on this album with Clifford. To the untrained ear, his playing seems basic and simple. Anyone could do it. It is only when you start to work through the tracks that you realize his playing is so much more. He follows the basics of, what I will call, the early days swing with the "one let, two let, three let" on the ride and pronounced two and four on the hat. However, when you listen deeper. You hear new sounds emerging. Patterns and styles that would eventually go on to influence the greatest drummers to follow. For instance, you can hear Elvin Jones in Cherokee and Tony Williams in Take the A Train if you are willing to truly listen.
This is what this challenge is all about. It is not an album that will burn your hands. Nor will it twist your mind with complex mathematical based rhythms. Rather, it is a piece of drumming history that will help you better understand the basics of the swing directly from the man who opened the door, and minds, of the greatest master drummers who would follow up to this day.
So, there's this week's challenge... go listen, and jam along with one of our drumming forefathers.
As always, go swing and share your videos with @spiritandgroove on Instagram. We'd love to share them!