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Book and CD Reviews - Nickel, Miller, Lockett, Slawson

Dynamic Duets for Snare Drum – Bryan Slawson

A simple offering from Alfred’s Percussion Performance Series, Dynamic Duets for Snare Drum is designed to reinforce the recognition and execution of playing with dynamics on the snare drum.

Aimed at the lower grades from 1-3, it has very clean layout and each solo has a thoughtful theme, such as “So Goes the Bolero” which as you have probably guessed, features a bolero stylistic theme.

Starting with some very simple snare drum parts, we’re taken from simple quarter and eighth note solos in 4/4 through to more complicated solos featuring some more involved rudiments such as flams, five stroke and double stroke rolls.

There is a selection of time signatures used including ¾ and also 6/8 which incorporates reading of dotted notes.

It’s a nice, easy access book that gradually increases in difficulty as it goes and although it’s not going to be an essential buy I do think the solos are interesting and useful in a teaching environment, especially if you’re teaching students in pairs. This would be a great book to get the students playing both together and working on their reading and rudiments.

Rob Crisp
Alfred Publishing

Jost Nickel’s Groove Book

Having studied at the Drummers Collective in New York, Jost has moved on to play with German Hip Hop act Jan Delay, where he flexes his rather impressive groove muscles. It’s groove and timing specifically that Jost’s book is aimed at.

The book features 12 individual chapters, each with something specific to get across.

Rather than simply having chapter after chapter of notated exercises, the idea of Jost’s book is to give you a flavour of what you can do to a simple groove by adding ghost notes, making it into a linear pattern or re-orchestrating and so on, then equipping you with a few simple rules that can be applied to many other grooves or styles of music.

That said, the book itself runs to a total of 128 pages and there is an MP3 CD featuring the 200+ exercises contained therein, so plenty is provided for you to just get stuck into! A reading insert designed to aid in the creative process is included as well, which is referenced throughout many of the chapters.

Some of the chapters focus more on a certain technical issue, such as chapter 9 which is all to do with playing the bass drum and heel up or down technique. After a little bit of talk regarding the merits of both and effective playing technique, there are a series of exercises aimed at helping you to play with more control.

Chapter 10 is very different again, bringing in the concept of three note runs such as “Right-Left-Foot”, and looking at how you can get creative with them.

As you work through the book it’s apparent that there is no hard and fast, “start at chapter 1 and finish at 12” order to things. Instead, what we have is a collection of 12 individual concepts and subject matters that Jost has come up with to develop both his groove and his creativity.

This means that as a book it doesn’t have that “beginning, middle and end” that most others do, which also means it never gets boring.

Combined with practise tips, clear explanations and a pleasant layout, the concepts are advanced enough to be interesting and challenging at times but not so challenging they will put you off.

If you’re a teacher looking for material to get creative with your intermediate to advanced students, this is a great book with some really nice ideas. If you’re an advanced player yourself, there might well be a few in here that you’ve not come across before.

Rob Crisp
Alfred Music

Rhythm Sphere – Russ Miller and Pete Lockett

Featuring special guest Rajhesh Vaidhya playing on an instrument called a ‘veena’, this album from two of the drumming worlds’ familiar names is an exciting ride through some great Indian music and rhythm.

Now I won’t lie, I had never heard of a veena and so I looked it up. To save you the trouble if you are equally perplexed by this instrument, it’s an ancient Indian instrument that is plucked, much like a guitar.

Rajhesh has done some modification to the traditional instrument and added internal microphones and processors from Roland, amongst other things, which give this particular veena a whole new sound… apparently.

As albums go, this I found a little difficult to get into. Indian music isn’t something I’d normally pick up off the shelf but after a few listens and just letting the sounds wash over me I found myself picking out some of the rhythms and generally enjoying it.

The fourth track “Subha Panthuvarani” features some traditional vocals and is actually quite meditative with the drums and percussion in the background.

Pete Lockett is well known for being an incredible percussion player and the great thing about these rhythms and this style of music, is that Pete gets to flex his wings.

Russ is equally impressive on kit and gets a chance to show us his chops on the third track, “Rhythmic Conversation” where he and Pete trade solos and finish with a vocalisations duet.

Aside from a couple of guest musicians it seems this CD is just the three players previously mentioned, which seems almost impossible at times as there is so much going on and there is certainly the vibe of things being played more or less live. Do they do overdubs in Indian percussive music?

If you have an open mind towards other genres of music and genuinely enjoy exploring the percussive sounds and rhythms of the world, then this is one you might want to pick up.

RMI Music Productions Inc.
Rob Crisp

The Arrival  - Chegada 3 (Russ Miller)

Chegada 3 are a Latin jazz trio comprised of Russ Miller on drums alongside Jerry Watts on bass and Rick Krive on piano, keyboards, lead and backing vocals; as well as an army of session musicians including, notably, Luis Conte on percussion.

Starting with general observations on the album and Russ’ drums sound is great!

As a showcase it’s a great example of Russ’ playing and groove drummers with a slight lean towards the jazz and Latin end of the spectrum will enjoy simply listening to some lovely grooves, inter spliced with the occasional moment of excitement.

I especially enjoyed the brush playing on the cover of “My One and Only”.

Indeed all the musicians are on top form and some of the keys solos really take you away to another place.

The first song I felt I recognised and soon enough I realised what I was listening to, a Latin arrangement of a very famous Beetles tune, “Fool on the Hill”. It’s an interesting arrangement and on first listen I wasn’t entirely convinced the lyrics sat properly with the music, but after a few listens I found I was quite enjoying the new flow of the words.

There’s also a nice version of James Taylors’ classic “Only A Dream in Rio”, one of the more catchy ‘songs’ on the album, but that by no means the rest isn’t enjoyable.

I’m no Latin aficionado but I know my bossa from my samba and I certainly enjoyed it! It’s worth a look if Latin/jazz is your bag!

RMI Music Productions Inc.
Rob Crisp.

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