Part 3: Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 Time

Welcome to the third installment in our series on Latin jazz drumming. In this lesson we’ll focus on mambo bell variations in a 3/2 time signature.

The inspiration for this month’s column comes from an audition experience I had several years ago, when I was asked to sight-read a 3/2 samba-inspired chart with a band. On occasion, jazz composers and arrangers will write music that’s inspired by Afro-Cuban or Brazilian rhythms set to varying time signatures.

Mambo is a traditional Afro-Cuban pattern that’s often built upon a 2:3 clave foundation in 2/2 (cut time). Its main rhythm is typically played on a mambo cowbell, the side of a timbale shell, the cup of a ride cymbal, or closed hi-hats. A common mambo bell rhythm is demonstrated in the following example.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 1

Mix, Match, and Experiment

The next examples demonstrate ten 3/2 mambo-inspired bell patterns for practice and application within a band. Practice each pattern with a metronome slowly, and count out loud to ensure rhythmic accuracy.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 2

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 3

Once you have control of the previous figures, try mixing and matching one of the following bass drum, hi-hat, and rim click/tom accompaniment rhythms with the bell patterns. Layer each rhythm, and be patient with your progress as you refine your coordination and groove.

Here are a few 3/2 mambo bass drum figures.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 4

Here are three hi-hat foot variations.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 5

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 6

And finally, here are the conga-based rim click and tom accompaniment hand rhythms.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 7


The following example combines Mambo Bell Pattern 3 with Conga Hand Pattern 2, Bass Drum Pattern 1, and Hi-Hat Pattern 3.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 8

This example combines Bell Pattern 10 with Conga Hand Pattern 1, Bass Drum Pattern 3, and Hi-Hat Pattern 1.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 9

The next example combines Mambo Bell Pattern 5 with Conga Hand Pattern 3, Bass Drum Pattern 6, and Hi-Hat Pattern 2.

Mambo Bell Ideas in 3/2 time 10

With all four limbs combined, the texture creates a dense and funky feel. Take your time when combining your hands and feet, listen from top to bottom to ensure your limbs are dynamically balanced, and be patient with your progress.

Practice each four-limb combination with a metronome, drum machine, or loop at a wide tempo range. A good starting tempo would be half note equals 64 bpm. Also try writing down your own 3/2 bell patterns, conga accompaniment rhythms, and foot patterns for practice. See you next time!


Steve Fidyk leads the Parlour Project quartet, featuring his original compositions and arrangements. He is a member of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia under the direction of Terell Stafford, and a former member of the Army Blues Big Band of Washington, DC. He is also an artist in residence at Temple University and the University of the Arts.




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