Jazz Drummer’s Workshop
Swingin’ the Clave
Advanced Exercises for Developing Independence
by Steve Fidyk
In jazz, the ride cymbal is the focal point for creating a flowing, swinging time feel. In Afro-Cuban music, the clave assumes this role. Essentially, clave is to Afro-Cuban music what the ride cymbal beat is to swing. The fundamental style, pulse, and feel are built upon those rhythms. This article combines swing and clave as a vehicle for developing left-foot independence on the drumset.
The exercises specifically deal with playing 2:3 and 3:2 clave rhythms with your left foot as you swing on your ride cymbal with your right hand. Many contemporary drummers, like Antonio Sanchez, Robby Ameen, and Dafnis Prieto, use this technique effectively when accompanying soloists or as a foundational rhythm to solo over.
For exercises and tips on playing uptempo swing, check out the July 2012 issue of Modern Drummer.