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Benny Greb - The Art and Science of Groove

I remember sitting with Benny in Gothenburg at Meinl’s Drum Festival in 2013 and asking him about his plans as far as a follow up to the Language of Drumming went.

He said he had some ideas for a new DVD but was still working out how he was going to do it, how it would be funded etc, that he wanted to do one but it had to be done right. This is Benny all over. He is a man who knows what he likes, what he wants to do and pursues that until its natural and correct conclusion.

A year down the line and we knew the DVD was going to happen.

After a hugely successful crowd funding campaign Benny was not only going to make the DVD, but he was going to do it off his own back as well, leaving behind the likes of Hudson Music with whom he made his first DVD.

I was one of many people who chipped in some money up front to commit to buying a copy in order to make sure it happened. The Language of Drumming is still one of my favourite drum DVD’s and the concepts and ideas I use frequently with my students, so I was hoping for more insight into an area of playing I always feel I can improve upon; making my stuff groove like nothing else.

I was extremely interested to see how well a self funded DVD would compare to the high end productions we have come to expect over the years and I wasn’t disappointed!

First off let me tell you that I have no doubt that most, if not all the €80 000+ that was raised from the crowd funding went into this release. The production value is as high as you would expect from any of the big names in DVD production. Just look at the list of names in the end credits if you have any doubt of this.

There isn’t as exciting a menu as the Language of Drumming, but the theme of a notebook flows throughout the DVD, turning pages as each chapter progresses whilst being set against a back drop of the active set.

I like it! As far as I could tell no two chapters have the same scene in the opening title.

Filmed inside a warehouse, the entire DVD has a more industrial look to it than the Language of Drumming, but Benny’s personality still runs right through - you may have already seen the robot floating around the web on various teasers!

It’s the little quips, the nods around the set to some great films from the 80’s that Benny obviously holds dear and the occasional bit of dressing up that serve as the colour in what is a fairly serious looking release.

I’m almost certain this is an intentional move from Benny to get across that although we’re having fun, the concept of timing and groove is one all drummers need to take seriously.

So what about the actual content…

The DVD is divided into 5 separate sections, based on the individual exercises and concepts that will help you to work on your groove, they are Time, Sound, Feel, Mind and Body.

Each section looks at the importance of the subject matter in terms of it’s effect on your groove and playing and how you can improve that.

Some of the ideas here are familiar to me, others I had never in a million years thought of or had brought to my attention by a teacher or clinic for example. One particular moment I remember sitting open mouthed and thinking to myself “that is incredible, why have I never thought to do that?”

You will find yourself listening to Benny a lot on this DVD. It’s a lot of sharing of knowledge, absorbing what he says and applying that to your playing, rather than bashing out pages of exercises and examples.

There are some nice little extra touches as well, notes popping up on the screen when Benny plays a solo, which for Language of Drumming graduates will instantly remind you of the initial alphabet letters.

Benny was excited that because the money had passed the threshold, he could get his band Moving Parts involved. As a fan of their first album, it was for me at least interesting to see how Benny plays the parts I was so familiar with yet struggling to get my head around at times and the quality of their live performance is outstanding!

As all drummers (should) know, paying attention to and playing with a bass player is always important and throughout the DVD German bass legend Frank Itt provides bass lines to show how the relationship should and also shouldn''t work.

As a bonus section, there is also a behind the scenes “making of” which was interesting and also a very useful “tuning” segment which I found to be really good as well. Some of these ideas are fairly common but if you’re having trouble tuning, I’m sure you’ll find this little segment invaluable!

Running just over three hours in length, this isn’t the longest DVD for drummers out there. There is no exercise PDF to load onto the PC but that’s because the exercises don’t really require one.

Ultimately we all know it comes down to quality over quantity, especially with playing the drums, and if that’s the case then Benny has delivered once again!

Rob Crisp

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