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A simple triplet warmup coordinating hand to hand with bass drum and hihat.


Same triplet warmup but adding flams.


A shuffle groove with ride swing pattern and high hat on upbeats. Accents on two and four on the snare with other hits ghosted. Inspired by Steve Gadd.


Keeping with the triplets + flams workout, this pattern was inspired by the late, great Tony Williams.


More triplets! This time, we get our hands moving around the kit in a few different ways. Inspired by Elvin Jones and Steve Gadd.


Rewiring the brain a few different ways using the same basic pattern voices with different limbs. Inspired by David Garibaldi.


From 2006 to 2008, I was lucky to be part of a weekly residency at the Libra Room on Commercial Drive in Vancouver with trumpeter and composer John Korsrud and his Latin Jazz group which we cheekily called Johnny Montuno. The drummer I was lucky enough to play with what Miguel Benavides. It was with this band that I was able to stretch out my own conception of playing bass tumbao in a freer way. We also had the great Mike Simpson on piano who happened to be into prog rock and Frank Zappa so we were definitely stretching and displacing as much as we could. Anyway, on the Son Montuno tunes, Miguel would play the following patterns on a 4 piece drum kit and Mike and I would go to town in the coro-pregon sections. Thankfully, the clave police didn't arrest us.


This cha cha cha pattern was inspired by Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez and in particular from his playing on an album called Triangulo with Michael Camilo and bass guitarist Anthony Jackson.


This samba pattern was inspired by Brian Andres. I get all the luck as a bass player. I remember being on a casual gig with him at a casino almost a decade ago. The leader called a samba tune and Brian proceeded to play this pattern. His left hand was playing all the snare hits with various accents and his right hand played alternating muted and open tones imitatin ga surdo. If you want to improve your left hand dexterity and finger control, this pattern is for you!


In the 1990s and 2000s it seemed like a rite of passage for any Vancouver based Latin Jazz or Salsa musician to pass through the ranks of Orquesta BC Salsa. The band had a deep repertoire of salsa classics but it also kept its ear to the ground. One style that was getting more and more play was reggaeton. Band leader and percussionist Julio Portillo would often play a variation of the pattern on one tune and would switch to the other variation when the next reggaeton tune came int he set. In any case, while the patterns are deceptively simple, making the dembow sit and feel right is an art unto itself.


In recent years I have had the pleasure of playing bass with a wonderful SF Bay Area band called Sang Matiz. There is plenty of percussion to go around [3 percussionists!] and right in the middle guiding the whole ship is drum set player Jesus Martinez. On some tunes he played a pattern that I had not heard before. I was intrigued by the deep groove but also the deceptively simple sticking pattern he uses to achieve it. Turns out that the pattern is his interpretation of a Puerto Rican plena.



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