The Prof is in...contemplative mood

Posted by Gareth Makin on

For those expecting another breakdown on the cymbal set ups of those fabulous drummers that we all like to listen to or look at, or in some small (or large in some) way, emulate (I like to use the word 'emulate' as it sounds much better than copy, we are all ourselves even when we are trying to be other people) then they may be disappointed.  But wait, don't leave just yet dear readers, for this post I'm going to tack a little differently and you may leave the page slightly energized (with a zee).  Or you may not.

I want to talk in this blog (and future ones too as this will end up in several volumes - and who has time to read much when there's drums to be played?) about favourite players and what makes us react to all that we hear and see.  I make no apologies that this is my own view, but it isn't going to be a 'best of' compilation, just a few drummers who have moved me in some shape or form.  This should hopefully be an open dialogue that might make you want to get in touch and share your favourites too (and in that way I can look at these people in later blogs).

 There are artists that we have all had that 'wow' moment with which has made us want to see or hear more (I have a tendancy to buy all recorded works of said artists to try and get a bigger picture of where they're 'at' - my shelves are testament to this).  The best of these are often recommendations from fellow drummers or band members.  A great drum teacher friend of mine did just that when he mentioned (a good few years ago now) whether I'd heard of a band called 'Snarky Puppy' and that I should check them out.  Hastening to Youtube I did just that and was faced with a track called 'Thing of Gold'.  The rest is history as I loved what I heard, complex arrangements, fab playing, considered musicianship and a hard wired connection to the groove. The drummer?  Meinl endorsee Robert 'Sput' Searight (and his partner in Rhythmic non-crimes, Nate Werth), commanding the kit with, at times, bombast, in others a gentle brush.  Just, well, brilliant, but I didn't just hook in with the percussion, it was their part in the assembled cast (the keys of Bill Laurance, Shaun Martin and Cory Henry turned my head too) that has made me a fan.  See, here we go again, if the drummer fits the band, the band can head for the stratosphere.

'The Groove is Here' his DVD announces, and it quite palpably is.  The guy is (Paiste endorsee and big hi-hat user) Steve Jordan and a short search with Google (or with your engine of choice) will demonstrate his breadth of recorded and live work.  There is one small piece that I always go back to as it never ceases to make me move.  His work with John Mayer and Pino Palladino in the John Mayer Trio should be given your time.  On one Live DVD ('Where the light is') Steve leads off a tune 'Everyday I have the Blues' (in fact, go and find it now, watch it and come back when you've seen it a second time - it's alright I'll wait).  He swings it, he makes Pino move, he looks sharp, cool and the whole audience 'get' the blues (it's an LA crowd - that in itself is amazing).

And now for what many would see as a 'yeah we've all got that one' choice.  (Paiste Legend) John Henry Bonham.  Hear me out though.  His performance with Led Zeppelin on 'Dazed and confused' was one of the reasons I wanted to play drums (and I'm no rock guy, I'm just kinda watered down everything).  What I heard in that one track was enough to set a spark that is still burning.  Bombast (there's that word again), dynamics, motion and technique (to shout loudly at you, 'Yes I am doing that in the middle 8, what are you gonna do about it'?).  I still listen to it now and never tire of it.  I liked the fact that he played hard and was quite happy to kick Jimmy Pages ass every now and again (one of the things I also like about Stewart Copeland with the Police, or Ginger Baker with Cream - bring your 'A' game or you're getting hung out to dry I don't care how shiny your guitar is'). We are supporters in the band, but it's nice to let everyone know you're there and steering the ship.

So that's three. 

I'm going to leave it there for now so you can go off and spend a half hour going through your own stuff (or visiting that there Youtube again) before you know, have to do 'stuff'.

Normal service resumes next blog people.  Have fun playing whatever you play and remember, give your cymbals a hug, Cymbomute 'em.

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