VIDEO! Jazz Drummer’s Workshop: Approaching Standards, Part 3: Language and Vernacular (February 2014 Issue)


by Steve Fidyk

Welcome to the final installment of our series on applying the rhythmic phrasing of jazz standards to the drumset. This time we’re exploring ways to extract themes from the Thelonious Monk tune “Straight No Chaser” to help bring continuity and logic to our improvisational efforts.

As I listened to different recordings of “Straight No Chaser,” certain ideas emerged that I was drawn to explore. These motifs reoccur throughout the tune, and you can use them as you structure solos based on the melody.

One common way to exploit these rhythmic hooks is to insert rests between each idea while maintaining the song form, which in this case is a twelve-bar blues. Framing the rhythms this way helps convey a stronger message. Advertisement

Bebop Vernacular

With any type of communication, there are specific accents and patterns that help form the core of the language. This rationale also holds true when we’re performing music of a certain style. To become fluent in jazz, it helps to internalize different common bebop phrases. The master drummers Max Roach, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, and Roger Humphries mix these patterns, along with quotes from the melody, as they improvise over standard tunes.

For transcriptions of the examples discussed in this article, check out the February 2014 issue of Modern Drummer.

Purchase a copy here and see the issue contents here.