This post is an excerpt from the complete article that appears in the May 2015 issue.
Jazz Drummer’s Workshop
Elvin Jones–Style Triplet Fills
Part 1: Creating a Rolling Melodic Feel Using Basic Stickings
by John Xepoleas
In this lesson I’m going to show you how to create high-energy Elvin Jones–style triplet fills based on common jazz rhythmic phrases, like those included in Ted Reed’s classic book Syncopation. This approach was first developed by legendary drummer and teacher Alan Dawson, and this is my spin on it.
To begin, we’ll turn each measure into accented triplets. Where you see a quarter note written, play a triplet with an accent on the first note, using an RLL sticking. If an 8th-note rest is followed by an 8th note, play a triplet with an accent on the last note, using an LLR or RLR sticking. (When you use the RLR sticking, the first right will be played softer than the second one.) If two 8th notes are written, play a triplet with an accent on the first and last note, using an RLR sticking. If a quarter-note rest is written, play unaccented triplets using an RLR or LRL sticking.
The next step is to move the pattern around the drumset. To start, play the right-hand accents using the ride cymbal and bass drum. Play them with an aggressive feel, and make sure they’re treated as the lead parts in the pattern. Play all of the left hand notes softly on the snare. You can also move the right hand between the snare and rack tom.
For more on how to create Elvin Jones–style triplet fills, including notation of the examples demonstrated in the video below, check out the complete article in the May 2015 issue, which is available here.