JAZZ STANDARDS FOR DRUMMERS

About one year ago, I created collections of Jazz Standards for drummers in my Jazz brushes course. I used show tunes from the first half of the 20th Century and famous original songs written by well-known Jazz musicians.

I’ve learned over the years that 50% of Jazz drumming is patterns and the other 50% is connecting patterns to music. My main goal in making these Jazz Standards drumless tracks was to help drummers connect to the music. Without the connecting to music part, Jazz drumming patterns are often unmusical.

With the help of my A-list friends

About 6 years ago, I moved from Honolulu, Hawaii to the Kobe area of Japan. Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of the best Jazz musicians in the country. Two such players are pianist Dr. Phillip Strange and bassist Tetsuro Aratama.

We play a lot together and when I was planning to create these new Jazz Standards for drummers, I knew they would be perfect.

These musicians are masters of creating Jazz Standards for drummers.
Tetsuro Aratama, Phillip Strange and me at the recording sessions.

Both Phil and Tetsuro have solid time and astounding musicality on their instruments. They are also two of the easiest guys to work with. They have super positive attitudes. You can read about the importance of attitude in professional music here.

Making Jazz Standards for drummers

In my Jazz brushes course, the Brushes Mastery Course, I wanted to do more than just record audio drum practice tracks. I wanted to make video tracks so that drummers could see the musicians playing their instruments.

As much as possible, I wanted to create a feeling that drummers are actually playing with these superb musicians.

I used two GoPro Hero 8 cameras for the video and a Zoom H2N Handy Recorder for the audio. My setup and recording process was quick and easy without the fuss of multi-track recorded audio. I was pleasantly surprised with the result.


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Here’s a sample of one of the tunes we recorded for the course.

Avoiding copyright issues

Many Jazz Standards for drummers are recorded with the original melodies. Using the melodies of copyrighted songs then requires licensing fees which can get quite expensive.

To side step all of this, Phillip Strange and I worked out our own melodies to the chords of some famous Jazz Standards. We are using the same chords from many tunes we know and love but changed the melodies.

This allowed us the creative freedom to match the feeling and mood of the original Standard. Through this arranging process, I came up with the name Almost Jazz Standards for the drumless tracks version of these video tracks. They’re Jazz Standards but with a twist in the melody.

Almost Jazz Standards for drummers use the chords of famous songs with new melodies.

Above is the lead sheet from one of the Almost Jazz Standards, Contemplation. A clever arrangement by Phillip Strange of Charlie Parker’s tune, Confirmation.

I also created a drum chart (drum sheet music) for this song. We ended up recording the arrangement at about 170 BPM so the drum chart reflects that tempo. You can see the first page below.

One-take wonders

Phil and Tetsuro are pros to the core. They came in and knocked out 22 takes in no time at all. As you can hear above, their playing is on a very high level.

As drummers, we want to constantly seek out musicians who are better than we are. Their skill will then pull us up to another level of ability on drums. When you play with Phil and Testuro either in the Brushes Mastery Course or with the drumless tracks, your playing will expand.

You will be able to hear and play things you couldn’t before. Practicing with this level of musicianship will prepare you to play with most any player in Jazz world.

Tetsuro Aratama and Phillip Strange recording Almost Jazz Standards.

3 volumes of Jazz Standards for drummers

As a drum teacher for over 20 years, I wanted to create Jazz drum practice tracks that could really prepare drummers for playing live music. Connecting our drums to the playing of the other musicians is how we get gigs!

I also wanted to create drum practice tracks that covered the many styles of music we get asked to play in the World of Jazz drumming. The 3 volumes of the Almost Jazz Standards drumless tracks or 22 video tracks in the Brushes Mastery Course include, Jazz Swing, Bossa Nova, Samba, Afro-Cuban, Pop, New Orleans Second Line and many more styles.

We actually recorded 15 different Almost Jazz Standards with many having 2 versions. Extra takes gives more opportunities to practice responding to and interacting with the music.

Another bonus is that all tunes have drum charts too. I think drum charts or drumming sheet music is helpful. Drum charts are simply road maps to a song. Once you have the road map, you know where the music is going. This will help you to know what to play and when to play it.

So why practice with Jazz Standards?

Any drummer wanting to learn and play Jazz music, will encounter Jazz Standards. They are foundation of Jazz music. Learning Jazz Standard tunes will help you learn the language of Jazz music.

The language of Jazz is like any other language. When you can hear it, understand it and speak it, you can really express your ideas. Jazz is a musical conversation from the beginning to the ending of each song.

To learn this language, you need to practice listening to and playing with musicians who are fluent in Jazz language. Phil and Testuro’s fluency is easy to hear and understand. Their playing will greatly improve your own Jazz language fluency.

To learn more about these amazing practice tracks, head over to vonbaronstore.com or jazzdrumschool.com. Keep swinging my friend!


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