Book Reviews
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The Total Jazz DrummerThe Total Jazz Drummer is an exciting journey through the diverse world of jazz drumming. You start with basic lessons in grip and rhythm and end up playing solos in the styles of Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, "Philly" Joe Jones and Max Roach. This wide-ranging study of jazz drums is for all players from beginning to advanced. The beginning-to-intermediate student will find all the tools needed to become a great player, while the more advanced player will find lots of useful tips and a fresh perspective on jazz drumming. This book features many of the styles that make the instrument and genre of jazz drumming so challenging yet rewarding: from Second Line (street beat), Bossa Nova, Samba, clave, Mambo and Salsa to Songo, Bembe, Abakwa and Calypso. This is the one place to get everything you need to make you a great jazz drummer. A CD is included with backing tracks to practice with.

 

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The Total Jazz Drummer really seems to live up to its title; a fun and comprehensive overview of jazz drumming. The book, written by Sunny Jain and published by Alfred Publishing, is 128 pages and broken down into three parts; Beginner,  Intermediate and Advanced.

PART 1: The Beginning Jazz Drummer

Chapter 1 includes a basic understanding of Matched and Traditional grip, rhythmic notation, and the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments. Worth mentioning is that although PAS has now adopted a total of 40 drum rudiments as "standard", these first 26 are more than just a list on a page. Sunny has written out each rudiment so you are practicing from slow to quick notation. For example, the Single Stroke Roll is notated starting with quarter-notes, to quarter-note-triplets, to eighth-notes, to eighth-note-triplets, to sixteenth-notes, to sixteenth-note-triplets (or sextuplets). Reminds me a little of Alan Dawson's Rudiment Ritual.

Chapter 2 shows the basic notation for a 4-pc drumkit as well as a brief explanation of set-up and tuning. Chapter 3, the basic Jazz rhythm and swing feel are discussed along with some basic independence exercises. Chapter 4 gives a synopsis of the various styles within the genre of jazz music, rhythms anf feels that every jazz should know and be prepared to play on the gig. Second Line / Street Beat, Jazz Waltz, Latin Rhythms (Bossa Nova, Samba, Mambo, Salsa, Songo, Bembe', Abakwa, Calypso) and Straight Eighths, all of which are shown in their basic form. No surprise to find that there are a lot more examples and discussion when it comes to the Straight Eight feels. Sunny includes some interesting and challenging cymbal pattern variations to use with the four pages of Straight Eighth grooves he's provided.

PART 2: The Intermediate Jazz Drummer

In Chapter 5, The Art of Brushes, we find the basic strokes and rhythms used in jazz as well as a short discussion about two jazz brush masters, "Papa" Jo Jones and "Philly" Joe Jones. The stroke types as well as the nine diagrammed brush patterns can be heard on the supplemental CD that comes with this book. A valuable resource for anyone who is new to brushes!

Chapter 6 gives a brief explanation of playing various tempos and how that phrases in the jazz time keeping. Chapter 7 gets into Four-Way Coordination with a lot of eighth-note triplet and sixteenth-note coordination exercises, all of which I consider to be standard vocabulary for any jazz drummer. This approach is similar approach to my Expanding Stick Control on the Drumset, but with a lot more syncopation and broken rhythms ... and it's all notated out for you.

Chapter 8 gets into fills and soloing ideas with notation examples and brief discussion of the fill and solo approaches of Max Roach, "Philly" Joe Jones, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams.

PART 3: The Advanced Jazz Drummer

Chapter 9 gets into linear phrasing, using accents on the Snare and Kick/Cymbal in 3, 4, 5 & 7 note groupings, all with a variety of notation values (ie. eighth-notes, sixteenth-notes, triplets, etc.). Chapter 10 discusses Odd Time Meters (signatures), 5/4 and 7/4, in both Swing and Latin styles. The remaining chapters, 11-13, are short introductions into rhythmic groupings, polyrhythms and polyrhythmic ratios.

Sunny ends his book with an appendix of professional advice and approach to improvisation.

I think The Total Jazz Drummer (Book/CD) is a perfect study material for someone just getting into playing and studying jazz drumming. Although the book covers beginner through advanced concepts, the bulk of the material is geared towards giving the newbie jazz drummer a thorough understanding as to how to approach jazz music and playing in a jazz group. Sunny Jain has done a nice job of covering the basics, a real Jazz Drummer 101 course if you will. But don't get me wrong. Saying that this book is easy or for beginner players would be completely inaccurate. The only thing 'elementary' about this book is the early chapters. Once you get into Chapter 4, you're hitting the ground running lots of complex grooves, beats and rhythms to glean from.

I've been playing jazz for most of my professional career (28+ years), and I still found the The Total Jazz Drummer to be an interesting, fun and sometimes challenging as I took several days to work through it for this review.