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Nerdy Drum Stuff


"El Schmeckl" from Partikel's "Cohesion" cd is my arrangement of a tune Duncan Eagles wrote in 4/4 and recorded as "Schmeckl" on the 1st cd by Jazz Proof. It's a songo in tribute to Jazz Proof drummer Louie Palmer's idol and sometime teacher Dave Weckl. I wanted to try keeping the songo vibe but in 5/4. Rather than keep the same pattern throughout, I moved the bass / bass drum tumbao around with the melody.

To start the sax solo, I wanted Duncan to try to emulate contemporary Cuban jazzers who really lay back on the beat before building the intensity of their solos, but we ended up going a step further and actually playing "free" over my left foot, which keeps playing a clave pattern (quietly) which we rejoin on cue.  During my solo over the intro hits there's some double kick action which wasn't mixed high enough - one of the results of having limited contact with a mixing engineer on a different continent.  I'm pleased that the drum track was a first take. It's by no means perfect but for 1 take of a long long tune with a pretty epic drum part, with studio time running low and everything done live without click,  it seemed preferable to go with it than try the whole thing again.


"The Blood Of the Pharaoh," also on the "Cohesion" cd , was written by Duncan around a bunch of 12/8 patterns I came up with by transcribing "field recordings" of percussionists in north and west Africa and Madagascar, combining them, assigning them to different parts of the drum kit, and using David Garibaldi's "permutation" idea over a left foot cowbell ostinato and left hand ostinato between the snare and 2 toms.  So the shifting elements are the bass drum and the right hand, which plays a cowbell and plastic block mounted on the bass drum hoop. This is because the parts I most enjoyed transcribing came from an outdoor party in Cameroon at which a dude playing what sound like ago-go bells ( or 2 cowbells of differing pitches ) was extremely inventive and helped make the whole thing sound very groovy indeed and not obviously in 12/8 to my ears at least. There's a lot of potential for this stuff - I only used some of the patterns I came up with, and permutating the ostinati would be an obvious next step. There are also a couple of patterns in the third section of the tune ( when Max and Duncan are playing in time, not rubato ) which I actually came up with whilst practising and not by blending transcribed parts off various recordings over ostinati ! There's another version on the 2016 Partikel cd "Counteraction" featuring cellist Matthew Sharp. CLICK HERE for a link to a Youtube solo from 2014 in which I play through the patterns on the albums and more besides.


There's  a Walter Smith lll tune that inspired Duncan Eagles to write "The Optimist", a piece on ( you guessed it ) "Cohesion".  Eric Harland plays very loosely on the Walter Smith track after a solo intro with a variation on the pattern often referred to as "Mozambique".  Duncan's brother Sam also wrote a tune, "Outsider", inspired by the same Walter Smith tune and when we recorded that on Sam's debut cd "Next Beginning" I tried to play more in a loose Eric Harland vibe but for "The Optimist" I heard the potential for some fixed patterns more inspired by Horacio Hernandez and Zach Danziger. So they've become part of the melody for me ( though I use different ones for the first and last head ).  Duncan originally planned the drum solo to be over a vamp somewhere in the tune but I asked for what we now do, which is for an open repeat of  8 bars of 4/4 with an ensemble phrase in the 8th bar. The idea behind  this solo is to use different sub-divisions to imply different speeds and time signatures within the 8 bars of 4/4. In some, there's an ostinato with the left foot or both feet and I tried to develop ideas with the hands which made the ostinati sound like they had changed from one time signature to another.  Since we recorded the cd in May 2011, I re-recorded a couple of different versions of the solo for YouTube with extra ideas and more accurate renditions of the old ones. Please check them out here: CD Version, 'More Cowbell' version

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