Joe Mccarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume IIDVD

Discussing skills development, McCarthy sites “concentration” as an additional “limb” that requires equal exercise. And, man, this drummer’s fifth limb is muscle-bound. McCarthy’s astonishing independence and disciplined groove focus are a thrill to behold. Showcasing his modern Afro-Cuban jazz big band drumming, on this release McCarthy focuses on groove development and chart interpretation. The master plays along to three challenging tracks from his album Uno Más and explains how he divined ideal parts from the charts. Groove transcriptions, chart PDFs, exercises, and play-along tracks are included. The visuals employ a multiple-angle/four-panel screen at intervals, which can be somewhat cluttered in performance sequences, occasionally detracting from the full-body flow. But this format does prove very effective in the breakdown segments. The tenacious will find much to love. Consider the treatment of the classic “Along Came Betty” in a 12/8-like bembe feel retrofit into alternating bars of seven and five. Better start pumping those concentration barbells. (Alfred)

Jeff Potter