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Mixed Reviews - September 2015

International Drum Rudiment Playing Cards

When I was given these to review my initial thoughts were a combination of laughter, excitement and "What, seriously?”

Yes, this is a deck playing cards featuring 52 drum rudiments.

Now at this point those familiar with their rudiments will be thinking "Hang on, there are only 40 official rudiments", and you would be correct!

In fact this deck takes the initial 26 US rudiments, adds the next 14 to make it to the PAS 40 and due to the fact there are 52 cards in the deck, 12 of the more popular hybrid rudiments have been drafted in as well, such as the "cheese".

The jokers are explanation cards, detailing the difference between the previously mentioned sets of rudiments, including for those who haven''t heard of the hybrid rudiments some history as to where they have come from.

The cards themselves are nicely produced and each one features a rudiment, the category of that rudiment (ie. flam rudiment) and a little background information as well.

Not only can you play a game of cards with your friends but as a learning tool for drummers of all ages, these are fantastic. I''m not entirely sure of the history behind playing cards in general, but I''m going to assume it''s a happy coincidence there are 52 cards in a deck, which works out nicely as one a week so get your pad and get practising!

I love these cards, perfect as an educational gift for a student and a bit of fun as well!

Alfred Music

Rhythm and Drumming Demystified – Dave DiCenso

As this collection of instruments we play are explored further and further and our understanding of the relationships between rhythm & time and so on becoming more involved, books and educational materials are also becoming more in depth and the approaches to playing offered coming from a seemingly infinite array of angles.

This book is one that definitely falls into this category and the first 15 pages are quite involved explanations of how to approach the book, the ideas behind it and so on.

If you suffer from a slight lack of attention when faced with pages of instruction, as I did at this point, you might find yourself wanting to skip these pages and get stuck into the exercise.

Unfortunately you don''t really have much choice as the book really requires you to understand the approach in order to get the most from it.

To begin with, talking about "ATND''s" (above the neck disciplines) all seemed a little bit over the top to me.  The idea is that you should have a solid grasp of counting and subdivisions in your mind and the 5 disciplines develop from there. They include counting and subdividing with the voice, hand claps and eventually introducing the drums.

After working through some ideas it did all make sense, but you have to stick with it and really try to absorb the instructions.

The chapters in the book each feature a "Rhythm Code" to be interpreted with a specific sticking or stylistic approach.

You then work through the chapter where each exercise is a different way of interpreting the initial "skeleton" rhythmic code.

Now, if you made it past the preamble, this is where the book really starts to get interesting, as each of these exercises becomes more involved and the ideas more of a challenge whilst at the same time becoming a lot of fun!

The interpretations of the "rhythmic codes" include playing with a shuffle style, various rudiments and even hand and feet ideas in a double bass fashion; great for metal and heavy rock fans who want to do more than play straight single strokes on their pedals.

This book will also really help to improve your reading ability, your coordination and even your understanding and ability to play some polyrhythms.

This is undoubtedly a good book that will take a considerable time to work through and absorb, but don''t let the initial weight of the introduction pages put you off, it is well worth a look if you’re after a challenge which will also yield some great results.

Alfred Publishing

Super Natural Bang - Scott Pellegrom Trio

My first introduction to Scott came at the Glasgow Drum Show earlier this year and I was a big fan from the off. His style is unique and rather than just playing a flashy solo there seemed to be more of a musical aspect to his playing which was really exciting!

This album then features his trio playing some rather interesting and exciting tunes, starting with some lovely ambient instrumental sounds and musical ideas, full of energy and feeling.

Scott manages to fuse together some lovely groove playing with the occasionally frantic and frenetic ideas around the kit, exploring the many sounds you can extract from a standard kit, and some less commonly used items (I’m sure I heard a glockenspiel in there at one point), but all whilst keeping the music moving forward and without interrupting the flow of the music.

Although mainly an orchestral album, there are one or two tracks that feature some vocals and in fact track 5, “Wish I was Alone” was a surprise foot stomper of a track with a nice catchy vocal hook.

The disco vibe of track 9 “The Sauce” was also rather catchy and the final track “Pegasus Love Chicken”, aside from having possibly the most bizarre name for any song ever written, is a fantastic showcase of all the musicians playing, with Scott really showing us what he can do on the drums.

You might not have heard of Scott, but I recommend checking this album out for some genuinely enjoyable music and some really interesting but still easily accessible drumming.

The Jazz Waltz - Andy Ziker

This book by respected educator Andy Ziker is an in depth look at playing jazz in 3/4.

The book begins with a thorough introduction to the style of music, the historical background of jazz in 3 and some advice on where it will take your playing.

Each page of exercises in the main section of the book features what Andy refers to as an "anchor" pattern, a base groove from which to practise moving in and out of the more complicated ideas on the rest of the page. A tried and tested method and each new page having a new anchor helps to keep it interesting.

It''s a nicely laid out book and the ideas are split into different feels as follows; playing in 1, playing in 3, 1/4 Note Triplet feel, playing in 6, 9/8 Afro Cuban and playing in Broken Time/3 Voice Comping.

Then there is a further section that looks at other patterns including World Drumming in 6, playing with a rudimental approach, different sounds and accenting, opening the hi hat and metric modulations/polyryhthms.

There is a also a great section from brush virtuoso Florian Alexandrou-Zorn, where he shares five great brush patterns in 3.

The exercises themselves range in difficulty, some more technically challenging than others which offers up a good coordination workout and although to begin with you may have to work hard on the counting in 3, after a while that begins to settle in and become more natural.

I feel this is Andy''s main aim for this book, to take playing in three from a mechanical, counted exercise as it is for many of us and turn it into more of a relaxed and improvisational time signature, which is essential for musical expression.

A whole section on soloing in 3/4 is also included in the book and includes a page of 32 foot ostinato ideas and a further four pages of "solo elements".

At the back of the book there are some examples of great waltzes from 19 different drummers such as Peter Erskine, Max Roach, Joe Morello and Philly Joe Jones. Each of these features a short transcription of the main ideas employed by these great players.

There is also a CD complete with examples of each exercises and 20 backing tracks, all very useful for helping you to get to grips with this style of music.

This may be a genre specific book aimed squarely at the jazz drummer, but I think it''s a hugely enjoyable book and certainly one for any intermediate to advanced player to add to the collection, purely from the angle of getting comfortable in 3 and for a bit of creative fun!

Alfred Publishing

Rob Crisp

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