How Jazz Drumming Helps All Styles: Just Watch Buddy Rich

If you are not a jazz drummer or have not really listened to it much, you might want to give it some practice time. Why? Because the control and finesse you’ll develop carries over into every kind of drumming when it comes to volume, four-way coordination, speed and power.

When I was a kid, it was rock drumming all the way. I thought jazz was my parent’s and even my grandparent’s music. I pictured Benny Goodman playing a clarinet, or a Dixie land band, and that was all I needed to quickly head in the other direction.

But in 7th grade, I stated taking lessons with a guy that all the drummers in the neighborhood were studying with, and the lights really came on. Dick Kenny owned The Percussion Center, near Wilmington Delaware, and he sat me down for some proper schooling. I had my rudiments going on, which helped greatly with hand control, but Mr. Kenny introduced me to four-way limb control, via jazz drumming.

Getting Jim Chapin’s independence concepts under my belt took a great deal of work, but suddenly, I had four limbs that were becoming four separate instruments. The control I developed carried over into volume, which is critical to creating your actual sound. When you think about it, you are ultimately your own sound man, establishing the volumes between limbs that either balance with the other players or do not.

Of course it almost goes without saying that if you want fast hands, jazz is where you begin. You can develop very musical speed if you study the masters and incorporate rudiments into a music style that demands thinking and precision. Once you get the speed and control under your belt, you can apply to metal or anything else and shred the living daylights out of your kit. Believe me, it’ll happen.

As with most of these small posts, I just want to introduce an idea and hopefully inspire drummers to carry it far beyond. Watch this Buddy Rich video a few times to see the most amazing drummer the world has ever known tap into an energy that could be applied to any musical style. Listen to the single strokes on the bass drum, or the left hand/right foot insanity. The single strokes on the snare about half way through will have you shaking your head.

Buddy was 53 when he recorded this solo…

And that’s the real lesson: grab that Third rail on the subway track and feel a gazillion volts surge through your body. With jazz drumming, you can learn to control and direct that energy, and once you understand how, your musical world will never be the same.