I was just strolling about on social media when I came across a post with a clip of a drummer a lot of people are making a big deal about. WAIT!!!!!!!!
It was at this point I was going to embed a video of this young drummer, but I've realized I'm not going to post it because, as the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, don'y say anything at all!!!
I will, however, speak to what I see as the problematic parts of this person's performance which sadly, are common to a lot of the drummer videos I see lately.
Actually, I will start with a handful of positive things I saw.
1. It's a young woman.
Great! We need a lot more female representation in music!
2. She's playing (well, along to ) her own composition
Original music! Yay! Very cool!
3. She obviously has worked hard at playing the drums and does it at a high level
Good! Physical acumen with your instrument is always a good thing.
How come after I watched the video I sort of felt dead inside?
1. The "band".
As usual in these sort of situations. The drummer was playing along to a track. Why do all these "drum channels" always do this? Too cheap to hire a whole band? Worried about somebody making a "mistake" ? ( It's a chance you have to take with live music folks! ) I think this is one of the factors that create the feeling of coldness I always get from these drum videos. Another factor is.....
2. The " composition ".
Almost always the tunes these drummers play along to have no discernible melody, are in a relatively indecipherable time signature ( or have mucked around with a common time signature to make it sound that way), and have feel changes that don't make any sense. In other words, it's a showcase composition that only exists as a place to put a drum groove/solo and I'm afraid those types of tunes don't hold up to much scrutiny or repeated listenings. and finally....
3. The "playing"
Well, there's usually a display of lots of chops. You know, lots of fast singles, heavy backbeats etc. There's usually very little improvising ( this was borne out when I watched another video the drummer made of the same tune. ) There's also rarely any humour, romance, or sentimentality either. Just physical drumming as athletic event.
Anyway, it's not like the drummer in these videos is the only one guilty of these things or invented them. That's why I didn't want to "out" her. There would have been no point.
I am going to "out" my new discovery, however.
Later, on the same social media platform I was introduced to the great Jimmy Hopps! Here is playing with Roland Kirk on the 60s hit " Ode To Billie Joe".
Phew! Okay Why did I like this so much? Well, first of all, it was playful and fun, and despite the great playing, they didn't feel like they were taking themselves too seriously! Mr. Hopps had a lovely sense of dynamics and drama ( reminds me a little of Roy Haynes ) and was really going for it and improvising. I liked the way he orchestrated the snares on and off during the tune. He has a great buoyant time feel and I liked the way he interjected triplet ideas into a straight eighth groove. Wonderful, high level playing that also leaves you with a good feeling afterward!
Now, let's all go and check out some Jimmy Hopps!