Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't authentic your way out of a job

Hey folks,
I've touched on this a bit before but it's recently come up again. A musician friend was talking about how when he works with a certain drummer, if a tune gets into a Brazilian or Cuban vein, that it's way too heavy for the ensemble.
Boy, do I know this one!!
I think no matter what music we're playing, we need to be considerate of the instruments around us. If we're playing with acoustic bass and piano, we have to play transparently enough so that they don't have to fight to be heard.

The problem is when we drummers are learning authentic, folkloric, type grooves they often are:

-Played in a large percussion section

-Played outside

-Sometimes played with electric instruments

We often don't have these conditions when we're playing so we need to not play them like we do.
Playing world grooves verbatim (on small group Jazz gigs especially) often results in too loud drums or too much drums verses cymbals in your "mix", pattern-y grooves where a looser approach may be more appropriate, etc.

I was terrible for doing this to people until eventually I realized why it was so important for me to play a Cascara pattern exactly the way I learned it and force it on people who said something innocent like "Let's play Green Dolphin St. but let's play it Latin all the way through."

I often was trying to prove to everyone I had learned the "correct" beat and justifying the time I spent working on it, whether it had anything to do with the music or not.

In other words, I was playing from my EGO, and whenever I do that, the music really suffers.

Let me be clear, I would recommend anyone to learn as many World Music styles as thoroughly and authentically as they can. It's important, however, to know when to let go of that and just listen.

Here's a Hybrid Songo/Swing thing that I came up with today.

And here's the video

I may never use this beat, especially on a Country gig!

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