Peart’s ‘Big Lesson’ on Understanding Jazz Drumming


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SKF NOTE: Neil Peart‘s travelogues — books written about his travels touring with and without Rush — are always good reading. Neil writes well, and his travel books’ format are such that each chapter holds up on its own. When I have a finite amount of time to read, I often grab one of Neil’s books.

I’ve been reading Neil’s Far and Away: A Prize Every Time that way for awhile. I recommend the chapter, Drums of October, from that book as must reading for every drummer; certainly for every drummer feeling stuck in  rut, or feeling too old to try playing some new music.

In brief, in 2008 Neil decides to perform in concert with the Buddy Rich Big Band. He rehearses the chart he’s asked to play, Mexicali Nose. Neil’s onstage, the song gets underway, when, writes Neil:

…I discovered two things: I was too far away from the horns to hear them.., and, second and far worse, the band was playing a different arrangement from the one I had learned!

In the aftermath of that “nightmare,” Neil decides to play again with the Buddy Rich Big Band. But this time Neil turns first to Peter Erskine for drum lessons.

I’ll let you read the book chapter, but near the end, Neil says:

I already had the notion that I would want to continue studying with Peter, for I had learned one very big lesson: understanding more about jazz drumming is simply understanding more about drumming. That’s got to be good — even in the ‘October’ of my own years.

Yes, indeed.

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