Drumming: jazz brushes
I don't know where this topic really belongs but it seems most relevant here.
Lately, I've been really digging jazz brushes and learning to play it at home, both as an exercise and just for fun to work on my time. Just practicing on the back of a magazine and working out different accents, subdivisions, and feels. It's been immensely fruitful and such a great time workout. Just two brushes and a surface to work with. I'm also messing with Mike Longo's "Rhythmic Nature of Jazz" exercises and figuring them out using the brushes.
The thing I love most jazz brush technique is that the stirring motion gives you a physical sense for time in between all the subdivisions - especially in a kinesthetic/tactile manner. And when I go back to the bass I try to maintain that "body feel" for time. It's also similar to what you go through with your fingers doing pizz on the bass in a way.
Not to mention how expressive it is in terms of what's possible and the zillion different ways a simple swing beat can be done. You can go back to your favorite records and dig out some cool hits from your favorite recordings and find ways to apply them during bass soloing situations.
One thing I def wanted to point out is that I just discovered a series of videos on YOOTOOB where they've recorded a bunch of jazz greats and show how distinctively different they do their thing. For example:
Ben's comment about Papa Jo saying that he never goes in "preconceived" is deep.
Anyways, it would be fascinating if someone were to do the same exact thing but with famous bassists doing simply things like walking and such. To cover the obvious stuff like note choices, but also to look at their physical approach. That would be too cool.
I don't have anything to add but this is wonderful, and your description of your attraction brushes very succinctly articulated a feeling I've held unexplained for a long time. Thanks
Oh and I've also done a similar thing with bassists like you mention. More than note choices, or physical approach, I think the most immediate thing is beat centers. Ray Brown playing way on top of the beat or P.C right in the middle etc...
I remember someone asked RB about his beat center and his responses was that the idea of playing of top is nonsense: he plays it right at the center of the beat. It was posted here somewhere.
I think it's one thing to watch videos, but I think it's another for them to do it live, explain why they do it the way they do, and have their fellow bassist ask questions and peer into the details of those aspects. Notes can be transcribe, but the physical approach is very personal.
Compare any of the following Ron Carter, McBride, Pattitucci, Buster Williams, Eric Revis and you will get different answers for even just the physical approach to a simple walking line.
It would also be interesting to hear how various bassists and drummers relate to one-another.
Oh man, have you seen Steve Gadd playing this cardboard box?
skip to about 2:35
Great Stuff, Huy. I haven't done the brush thing, but I talk to students all the time about this part you talk about:
Also, the Ben Riley thing was interesting, especially regarding where he felt the beat against the bass at that slower tempo. It reminded me of the last time I saw Elvin Jones live. I could not believe how far in front the bass was in his grooves at that tempo. Definitely a wide pocket there.
Ed Thigpen's book/video "essence of brushes" is a personal favorite. Ron Carter plays on the video.
thank you for this hint. It seems to be so obvious ...
gotten the 'escobillas' today; fourteen euros, the cardboard is for free, and I already can feel the magic happening under my hands.
if I look up the 'essence of brushes' thing on youtube, I am plastered with girls make up advices. umpf, this does not really help, or does it?
otherwise: great advice.
I think he means more like this:
For your pleasure, these following vids were very helpful.
There's some really great footage with Sonny Payne w/ Basie on one of the Jazz Casual vids. The opening tune - I just love his brushwork. Saying so much with so little. I can't find that youtube anymore or else I'd link it.
Check out the difference in approach between Vernell and Papa Jo...
Erskine tutorial vids
Yeah that's from the same show, but the one I'm talking about is the first tune they play on the DVD. That segment with Basie is worth the money. I've watched it many times.
Doesn't it give a link to where the whole video is available? animotion or some such?
Jazz Casual DVD's.
I would buy this one in particular. More than worth the $15 or whatever they're selling it for.
Those early brush players came up playing for dancers. That's why it feels so good- they had to make it feel good to pack the floor. It was a job requirement. It's interesting that these guys didn't play the same way with everyone, no matter how amazing they were... the same way you can't dance the same way with everyone. You have to figure out where they're at, and try not to step on their toes. This is where I'm at with the "body feel" thing. I used to dance before my knee gave out, played for dancers for years, and really try to make everything feel like you could and should dance to it. This is why there are so many great drummers from New Orleans; if you're playing Snug Harbor or D.B.A., somebody's going to get up and dance. Happy Mardi Gras, y'all.
You can make a similar argument for afro-cuban and brazilian styles. Generally it's always going to be far better if the musician knows the associated dances and why they sound the way they do.
In terms of jazz, too bad the music has been largely divorced from the dance. Brushes (cept maybe tap dance) is the next best thing to getting that type of body feel for all the other newer jazz styles that have developed, esp the odd metered stuff.
Spend some time in New Orleans. I'm not just talking about the cheesy "trad" jump jive and wail swing revival crap. People are going to get up and dance at almost any gig, and the line between "art music" and "party music" is blurred universally. Jazz is about freedom and fun, baby.
Play those brushes on your bass and have some fun, you can groove like grazy or go seriously avant garde :) I´m a drummer turned heavily on bass quite recently and loving the percussive potential of it. I think that arco playing has many similarities to brush playing, the way you have move quite delicately in time, with constant flow.
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