Part 2: “Soul Vaccination”

Welcome to the second installment in this series on fusing funk rhythms within a swing concept. As mentioned previously, combining funk rhythms into a swing style can be helpful for players looking for new accompaniment language. These converted rhythms provide a flow to the swing groove that differs from the standard “layered ostinato” style that most drummers practice when developing coordinated independence. Thinking about rhythm and style in this manner can help any musician become more flexible and adaptable on the bandstand.

In Part 1 [May 2019] we explored ways of interpreting the groove Clyde Stubblefield played on the classic James Brown tune “Funky Drummer.” This month’s lesson features variations inspired by an equally heavy innovator who continues to amaze, Tower of Power’s David Garibaldi.

Let’s start by checking out variations of Garibaldi’s classic groove from “Soul Vaccination,” from Tower of Power’s self-titled 1973 release. As you practice, focus your attention on maintaining dynamic balance and consistency with your hands and feet. Work on the groove slowly at first with a metronome, take your time, and be patient with your progress. Here’s the main pattern.

Next, double the length of each note’s duration from the original pattern using the augmentation technique described in Part 1 of this series. With this technique applied, each one-measure groove becomes a two-measure 8th note phrase.

Exercise 3 illustrates the augmented two-measure phrase interpreted within a swung 8th-note feel on the ride. The hi-hat accompanies on beats 2 and 4.

In Exercise 4, the bass drum is played in unison with each ride cymbal rhythm.

Exercise 5 varies the bass drum rhythm from Exercise 4, alternating between the kick and hi-hat.

The next variation fills in 8th-note triplets between each ride cymbal note. The accompanying hi-hat and bass drum rhythm is the same as the previous example, except with a reversed voicing.

Exercise 7 places the ride cymbal in unison with each written snare rhythm. The bass drum and hi-hat are also in unison, played in between the hands to create a linear hemiola that’s shuffled.

The next variation demonstrates a reversed hand voicing of Exercise 3, with hi-hat accompaniment on beats 2 and 4.

Next try reordering Exercise 8 by playing the second bar followed by the first.

Exercise 10 displaces Exercise 8 by starting the phrase on beat 3 of the second measure of the original example.


These demonstrate only a few variations on this classic David Garibaldi groove. Use your imagination, be creative, and try coming up with your own version of this beat. With practice, you can add some serious funk to your swing feel. 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.