There are a lot of mixed opinions about transcribing full solos for drums, which I understand. The purpose of transcribing whole solos is to taste and try to play in the STYLE of the relevant performer. However, it is the work following to transcribing the solo which is most important! A good procedure could be to focus on a small cell from the solo, play it with different stickings and experiment with orchestration on the drums in order to get inside the cell and shaping it into a personal musical statement. Generating our own phrases and building up our own personal vocabulary is what it’s all about.
Transcribing drum solos will benefit your playing, one way or another. Further vocabulary, better technique, better notation skills and phrasing. Over the years I have learnt and studied drum solos of the great drummers like Philly Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Frankie Dunlop, Roy Haynes, Billy Higgins, Max Roach, Jeff Tain Watts, Bill Stewart and Ed Blackwell.
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Here’s 8 bars of Bill Stewart trading with Steve Swallow, from John Scofield’s live album “EnRoute”.
Stewart creates this very advanced cross-rhythm, which is a 3 beat phrase against 4.
Meanwhile: check out this killing solo by Ed Blackwell on Folk Tale.
The solo is from the album “Music From The Motion Picture When Harry Met Sally” with Harry Connick Jr.
Now – check this out – here’s a transcription of a Teddy Brown snare workout – mAOw75HlO4U (YouTube link)
! This is not for the faint-hearted. To execute this exercises up to speed is worth a “lifetime’s” practice. Teddy Brown was an extremely talented American entertainer performing popular music in Britain back in the mid-late 1920’s.
“I don’t know how you managed to do it. It is so fast!” – Michael Skinner (Principal Percussion at Royal Opera Orchestra and freelance percussionist with all orchestras in and around London for 31 years)
“Jazz is deeper than people think. It is a spiritual form of art. It’s like a Picasso painting. There’s no such thing as art going out of style”
– Illinois Jacquet