In this final installment on up-tempo endurance exercises, we’ll focus on comping with quarters and 8th notes within a standard jazz ride pattern.
Try not to psych yourself out and get tense when someone calls an extremely quick tune on the bandstand. I know this is sometimes easier said than done. But as you work on this material to prepare for those musical moments, remember to breathe deeply, be patient with yourself, and progress through the exercises gradually.
In order to play fast tempos effortlessly, it’s essential to remain as relaxed as possible and to accept the ride cymbal’s rebound. As you condition your wrist, forearm, and fingers, try to relax your fulcrum and grip so you’re not squeezing the stick too tightly.
As with the previous material in this series, find a tempo range where you can complete each four-bar phrase without getting fatigued. Be organized with your practice sessions. Keep a journal with your initial tempo, and time yourself to see how long you played without stopping. Record the results of each practice session so you can use them as reference points in the future. Find your breaking point on a daily basis, and try pushing a little bit beyond that tempo. As your endurance improves, increase the starting tempo.
Practice the comping figures in this lesson with the following jazz ride pattern.
Here are the quarter- and 8th-note comping patterns.
Once you have control of each exercise, try combining examples to create longer phrases. Also try playing these exercises with brushes, which will be more challenging because a brush won’t rebound as easily.
Steve Fidyk has performed with Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts,
Doc Severinsen, Wayne Bergeron, Phil Wilson, and Maureen McGovern, and he’s a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more information, including how to sign up for lessons via Skype, visit stevefidyk.com.