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Playing with "out there" drummers

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by ole Jason, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. As of late I've noticed that I tend to really struggle when playing with drummers who play non-traditionally or busy in ways that I don't expect. The problem is definitely with me and not the drummers... it just feels like my brain short fuses when they start comping outside the box, messing with the beat, or flipping the hats around. I don't feel like I have any issues playing with a click or a straight ahead drummer, I really just run into trouble with the busier guys.

    Most of the drummers I've worked with over the last few years have been more straight ahead traditional guys and I think I've gotten used to that style of playing.

    So my plan of attack is to reinforce playing with the metronome while practicing and start working through some albums with more esoteric drumming. I also plan on checking out the iPad app mentioned in a thread below... I think that would be helpful.

    Any other advice?
  2. Start listening to non-traditional bass players. Phil Lesh would be an excellent start. Also, concentrate on being where you should be regardless of where anyone else is. Eventually you may find that musicians you play with aren't as good as they think they are, or even you thought they were. I often find myself holding the correct place and having drummers, singers, etc. get off, and eventually I'll have to compensate, as they usually aren't listening well enough to know, or may even think I'm the one off. I have been trying out with a band lately that are superficially good, but the more I practice with them, the more I see the holes in their playing. Maybe the pot has something to do with it. When I was young I used to go to open mikes with the goal of throwing the drummer off. I was pretty good at it!
  3. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    That's about it. I played with a very 'out there' drummer many years ago and just got used to keeping time myself.
    Hear the metronome, feel at one with the metronome.........become the metronome....... :)
  4. It's funny you should mention that because that is usually where I run into drummers that give me problems. I usually gig twice a week and never really have issues with time but I'm also playing with a stable of drummers I'm familiar with and comfortable with.

    I still believe the problem lies with my lack of beat internalization on tunes I'm unfamiliar with but people do tend to stretch out a little more at jam sessions, which is fine.

    Thanks for the advice guys I really appreciate it.
  5. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    You need to get circular time in your playing. I would check out the Series "The Rhythmic Nature of Jazz" by Mike Longo. If you are having trouble keeping the beat then you need to do things that will internally improve your rhythmic clock so you can become independent of other musicians.

    Hal Galper has a web master class on youtube that gets into this some, but it is the tip of the iceberg.
  6. I used to get so pissed off by the same problem- being thrown off by really advanced drummers or those considering themselves to be... The latter is of course more irritating, but you better be damn sure of your time before you blame the drummer, I always told myself.

    What I experienced, everything I practiced that touched on the subject "rhythm", made me more stable and secure over time. For example, I often practice subdividing very slow metronome clicks in different subdivisions, e.g. click is 50 per minute, so play 2 notes per click, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Or practice 5 notes over the duration of 4 clicks, then take those 5 and consider them 1/4-notes- take their 1/8-notes (which is 5 notes over 2), their triplets (scary), etc. pp. Same with 7 over 4.
    Or, on the other end of complicated, play walking lines in a form (rhythm changes, blues, giant steps, whatever) with metronome on 40. Play every click is a "one", then twice as fast a that, and so forth.

    It really, to me, seems it does not matter what specifically you practice, as long you practice it thoroughly, your own sense of time will improve just like your ear will improve whenever you practice anything harmony- or melodywise.

    In the last few years, my time has improved a lot. A few weeks ago, I was on a jam when a drummer showed up playing really "all over the place", to the point where I absolutely felt "I am SO not getting this!". The really good thing was, though, that keeping steady time and pulse in itself was not too much of a problem anymore (as compared to, say, 2 years ago, where this would have killed me, and consequently I would have killed the music), so I could listen analytically while playing, and try to figure it out. Eventually, I understood some aspects of what he was doing, which made it a little easier to play with it. (Because, practicing all this overlay/displacement/subdivision stuff, once you KNOW it, you can identify it) It still felt weird, but afterwards I felt a lot more like the solution than the problem, if you know what I mean.