Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

Jazz Comping With Quarter-Note Triplets

Swinging an Offbeat Figure

by John Xepoleas

In this lesson we’ll liven up our jazz comping 
with offbeat quarter-note triplets. We’ll incorporate this grouping into a swing feel, apply it to four- and eight-bar phrases, and move it around the drumset. 

Let’s start by getting a good feel for the first note of an offbeat quarter-note triplet, which lands on the second partial of the 8th-note triplets on beats 1 and 3.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 1

Now we’ll complete the figure by adding the first and third triplet partials of beats 2 and 4.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 2

If you find it difficult to play this comping rhythm along with the jazz ride pattern, try starting with quarter notes on the cymbal.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 3

Once you’re comfortable, alternate between two bars of the pattern and two bars of a swing feel.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 4

Now we’ll play the quarter-note triplet rhythm during the last two bars of an eight-bar phrase. Notice that the rhythm creates excitement and anticipation as it leads to the end of the phrase.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 5

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 5a

Next we’ll practice moving this figure around the drums. In Exercise 6, the left hand starts on the snare and then moves clockwise to the rack and floor toms.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 6

For this example we’ll create an interesting effect by moving the left hand between the toms.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 7

Now we’ll move the left hand between the snare and tom.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 8

Finally, let’s apply this concept to a four-bar phrase.

Swinging an Offbeat Figure 9

John Xepoleas has written two drum books, Style Studies for the Creative Drummer and Essential Drum Lessons With the Greats. He is also an active online educator. For more info, visit johnxdrums.com.