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The Commandments of R&B Play-AlongAlfred Music Publishing, home to the world's largest percussion print music catalog, announces the release of The Commandments of R&B Drumming Play-Along by legendary drummer Zoro.

One of the funkiest drummers on the planet, Zoro has sat on the drummer’s throne for more than two and a half decades commanding some of the most famous stages in the world of rock and R&B music. Z has toured and recorded with multi-platinum and Grammy award-winning artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown, The New Edition, and Jody Watley, and his diligence has earned him a position of prominence as a respected player, clinician, author, educator, and motivational speaker. Voted No. 1 R&B/blues/funk drummer in the world by Modern Drummer, Rhythm, and DRUM! magazines, Zoro’s funky heartbeat drives his “groove for the generations.”

The Commandments of R&B Drumming Play-Along features 14 of the funkiest tunes in significant sub-genres like gospel, blues, soul, funk, go-go, new jack swing, and hip-hop. This play-along package chronologically documents the evolution of R&B drumming from the 1950s through the late ’90s. The CD includes original songs by R&B legends such as James Brown, The Meters, Aretha Franklin, and Janet Jackson, and all tracks are recorded by an all-star R&B band featuring Al McKay, the legendary guitarist of Earth, Wind & Fire. Each song has a full-performance track with drums and a play-along track without drums, plus TNT (Tone ’N’ Tempo) Changer software for looping sections, changing tempo without changing pitch, and switching back and forth between the two versions. The book also features historical insight, tips for approaching the music, groove examples, rare photos, and album cover artwork. This is a must-have for any drummer serious about playing R&B!

REVIEW

The Commandments of R&B Drumming Play-Along is a new Book/CD (retailing for $19.95), published by Alfred, which incorporates their TnT (Tone 'N' Tempo) technology. Zoro, along with Russ Miller, have done an excellent job with this play-along! If you are familiar with Zoro's other books, you'll recognize a similarity, just in how the book is laid out. In the book, each of the fourteen tunes are explained in detail; everything from an original recording profile, historical overview and how one should approach the tune, to notation of the main groove and its variations, professional rhythm chart and a list of recommend recordings to help you master the given feel.

Tunes include:

Old Landmark • Think • Hey Pockey A-Way • Standing in the Shadows of Love • Super Bad
Love Land • Jupiter
T.S.O.P • Bustin' Loose • Groove Me
You • Sho 'Nuff • Souledified • The Funky Monk

The music on the CD is top-notch (as far as play-alongs go), and comes with two versions; with and without drums. When playing the CD on your computer, the TnT feature creates a special front-end interface, allowing you to check a box to mute the drums, as well as the ability to alter the tempo or key of the play-along track quickly and easily.

The only thing I would like to see different with this package is the ability to mute the click track. While the entire package is suited for players of all levels, beginners to advanced, having the ability to mute the click track would be a huge plus for advanced players. Muting the click would allow the player to really lock in with the other instruments and/or create their own sense of feel. Beginners and/or less experienced players will clearly benefit from having the click track, as well as the ability to slow the tempo down while learning the groove.

I don't know how drummers and percussionists would actually benefit from being able to change the key of the song. If you wanted to have some friends play-along with you on a melodic instrument ... it would be an advantageous. But since you already have the full instrumentation within the play-along track itself, it's unlikely that anyone will be doing that. Having the click always in the mix will probably keep you from wanting to record yourself with the goal of sharing it on YouTube and such. Due to music licensing and copyright, perhaps that's the goal? As a professional musician, I would enjoy this play-along far more if it didn't have the click going through the entire tune. Even the ability to turn the volume of the click track down would be nice. Maybe Alred will see my review and make that happen on their next project!

The pros far out weigh any cons I may have brought up, which is why I highly recommend The Commandments of R&B Drumming Play-Along (Book/CD) for every drummer's educational library.

Other products by Zoro that you might want to check out include:

The Commandments of Early Rhythm & Blues Drumming - A Guided Tour Through the Musical Era That Begat Rock & Roll, Soul, Funk, and Hip Hop

The Commandments of R&B Drumming - A Comprehensive Guide to Soul, Funk, and Hip-Hop

The Commandments of R&B Drumming DVD