Ed Blackwell – Complete Communion (Drum Solo Transcription)

Edward Blackwell (1929 – 1992) was one of the pioneers of free jazz drumming. Born in New Orleans, he was known for his extensive work with Ornette Coleman. His musical roots, however, were extremely different, from New Orleans second-line drumming to the Blues, Big Band Swing, the music of the Mardi Gras Indians, Caribbean music, and Rhythm & Blues. During his career, Blackwell performed and recorded with various artists such as John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Charlie Haden, Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, and many others.

Here’s the transcription of the drum solo played by Blackwell on “Complete Communion” by Don Cherry from the album Complete Communion (1966).


Ed Blackwell Complete Communion drum solo

In this solo, there are several rhythmic/timbral ideas that reflect his affinity for bebop/hard bop drumming, as well as his New Orleans roots. There are so many references to the language of drummers such as Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Philly Joe Jones. The structure of this particular solo is organized in five eight-measure phrases (40 measures). He develops his phrases on variations of the rhythm patterns of the tune, breaking them up, putting them back together, superimposing others… Blackwell’s drum solo on “Complete Communion” is a perfect example of motivic development, repetitions, and call response technique, which creates a melodic statement on the instrument.

Here’s the audio, the solo starts at 3:20.


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