Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

Five-Note Patterns

Analyzing and Exploring an Odd Grouping

by Greg Sundel

We discussed Tony Williams’ use of five-note ride patterns in the February 2015 issue of Modern Drummer. In this lesson we’ll analyze approaches that Max Roach and Bill Stewart have used to utilize five-note groupings around the drumset, and we’ll demonstrate some additional applications of this concept.Max Roach played the five-note pattern in Example 1 on Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco.” Roach repeats this figure three times before playing a single or diddled stroke to complete the sixteen 8th notes of a two-measure phrase. This pattern is played on the cowbell and toms, and the notated sticking is suggested—see what works best for you.

Bill Stewart applied this concept with the John Scofield Trio on the song “Toogs” from the live album EnRoute (Example 2). Stewart’s pattern begins with a stick shot—played by pressing the tip of an angled left stick into the snare head and striking it with the right—and then moves to the snare and tom. Practice the figure slowly, and focus on striking the angled stick with the right before tapping the snare with the left.

Exploring an Odd Grouping 1

By playing the figure over five measures, Stewart is able to resolve back to beat 1. Practice this slowly, and keep track of your position in the phrase by focusing on the hi-hat foot.

Exploring an Odd Grouping 2

Next we’ll use a similar idea by orchestrating a five-note figure between the bass drum and snare. We can use this in a four-bar phrase by altering the ending to resolve to beat 1. Dropping the last two notes of the five-note pattern at the end of this phrase allows it to fit into four bars. Practice this slowly, and count out loud.

Exploring an Odd Grouping 3

Now alternate between the bass drum and hi-hat. After you’re comfortable with this, try practicing the pattern with either a bass drum or hi-hat lead. Once you can play the figure with both voices leading, switch between them from measure to measure.

Exploring an Odd Grouping 4

To spice up the phrase, play rimclicks, the rack tom, and the floor tom with your comping hand.

Exploring an Odd Grouping 5

Have fun!

Greg Sundel has performed or recorded with Billy Corgan, Lauryn Hill, and Joshua Redman.
His book Drum Your Way is available through his website, gregsundel.com.