Never mind the whiplash, here’s some proper jazz drumming lessons
Don’t believe everything you see at the movies: for great jazz sticksmen Jeff Ballard and Tom Rainey, being mentored was a joy – although Ray Charles was no picnic
Cormac Larkin – Mon, Mar 9, 2015
Jeff Ballard is best known as one-third of the…Brad Mehldau Trio, and he has also spent extended periods in the drum chair for legends such as Ray Charles and Chick Corea.
Like so many American musicians, his first experience of jazz education was…his own high-school band.
“It was actually a very nurturing environment,” says Ballard. “The director was an old trumpet player from Chicago. He was a very hip guy and he would instil a community feeling in the band. They’d bring in very heavy old-school guys to teach us, and for me the message from the older musicians was that nobody owns this stuff. It’s greater than you, and it deserves to be passed on.”
Tom Rainey is one of the most creative and innovative drummers on New York’s fertile downtown scene, and a regular with influential band leaders such as saxophonist Tim Berne and pianist Fred Hersch.
The central character in Rainey’s education was…Keith Copeland, who died last month at 68. [Mr. Copeland] was a giant of the drum set.
“It felt like I was hanging out with a friend, basically, like an older brother kind of figure who happened to be an incredibly swinging and beautiful drummer, and also had a real talent for imparting information.”
For both drummers, jazz is an open-source code that they are glad to be able to share.
But check out Ballard and Rainey…. [Y]ou’ll discover…being a jazz drummer is more about communication than being shouted at.