Jazz Grooves – Drum Transcriptions Part II

It’s been a while since the first part of this article. The following collection includes the main groove transcription for a varied repertoire of ten jazz tunes, from the late ’50s to the early 2000s, and for various genres from afro-cuban to samba, to bolero and funk. All of the tunes are included in the playlist below and the transcriptions are collected in a PDF available for free at the end of this article.


Deeds, Not Words (1958) by Max Roach is one of the most important albums of the hard bop era, a timeless resource of inspiration and study for every drummer. I already mentioned this masterpiece introducing the drum transcription for “Conversation” and this time we talk about the Rumba rhythm, a common groove played in some jazz tunes. There are a lot of variations you can listen to. The foundation groove is played on the snare drum with snares off, it can be also played with brushes. Right hand plays on the snare near the edge, left hand plays rim clicks and muffles the head, and the feet play a basic ostinato. “Filide” is a jazz tune with an ABAB form, with a rumba feel on the A section beautifully played by Max Roach with many embellishments and variations. Here’s the main groove, the 16th note triplets on the first beat are played with the sticking RRL.

max roach filide drum transcription

Another version of the Rumba rhythm is the groove played by Ed Thigpen on “Carioca” by Oscar Peterson. Comparing the two rhythms, Ed Thigpen’s version is lighter. There are different and tons of ways to play this rhythm, just listen to the music and play what fits better.

ed thigpen drum transcription

Art Blakey was one of the first jazz drummers to incorporate Afro-Cuban grooves into his drumming, creating memorable drum parts with his group, the Jazz Messengers. Here are two rhythms recorded by Blakey between 1961 and 1964. On “El Toro” from the album The Freedom Rider (1961) he plays a syncopated bell pattern similar to that one of the Mozambique rhythm, and a Cuban pattern between the two toms.

art blakey el toro drum transcription

The rhythm played on “Pensativa” is essentially a (reverse) bossa nova, note that Blakey swings the 8th notes. The bass drum is not clearly audible, but I think is played on beats 1 and 3.

art blakey pensativa drum transcription

Otis “Candy” Finch Jr. was a drummer who played with Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine, John Patton, Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Mitchell, and Dave Burns. With Turrentine, he recorded from 1962 and 1964 at Blue Note with Bob Cranshaw, Blue Mitchell, Curtis Fuller, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Lewis, and Les McCann. In 1967 he accompanied Dizzy Gillespie on the album Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac. The following year he joined Dizzy’s Reunion Big Band and performed with them at the Berlin Jazz Festival. He is a modern-style swing drummer and was active in the 1960s and 1970s.

On the famous tune “Mas Que Nada” Otis Finch plays a syncopated bell pattern similar to the first Art Blakey rhythm discussed. There are no hand parts in the first four bars, while in the next four he orchestrates the ensemble accents by incorporating cymbals and toms.

dizzy gillespie mas que nada drum transcription

Recorded at the Cliche Lounge in Newark, New Jersey in 1970, Alive! is an album by guitarist Grant Green, with Idris Muhammad on drums. Here’s the main groove transcription for “Let The Music Take Your Mind.” In the next months I’ll share the full drum transcription.

idris muhammad drum transcription

No need for presentations, the Harvey Mason groove on “Chameleon” is still cool!

herbie hancock chameleon drum transcription

Enriched by the captivating drumming of Tony Williams and the percussion of Airto Moreira, Captain Marvel is an album by Stan Getz released in 1974. The groove played on the introductory section of the head is a Brazilian-oriented rhythm. The hi-hat plays the characteristic samba rhythmic patterns, enforced by the bass drum. In the following section, Tony Williams moves the pattern to the ride cymbal, playing accents on the ride bell and adding the snare drum with various comping ideas. Note that the rhythm can be written in 2/4, it depends on how you count it.

tony williams drum transcription

The next groove is something different from what we’ve seen until now. Bolero is a genre born in eastern Cuba in 1880, reaching over the years good notoriety and finding a remarkable blend with jazz, especially on ballad themes. There are many musicians who have incorporated this genre in their compositions, from Chet Baker to Coleman Hawkins and Gerry Mulligan, to name a few. Nocturne (2001) by Charlie Haden is the right title for an album that perfectly translates the romantic melancholy atmosphere in music. Haden places the work within his melodic research by relying on short silences, over softly dragged sounds, and slow rhythms. The drumming style of Ignacio Berroa is always musical, embellishing the rhythms with soft details. The groove for “Nocturnal” is a Bolero rhythm played with brushes; listen carefully to the tune to hear the pronunciation of those 32nd notes and the unique feel of this groove.

ignacio berroa drum transcription

The Bad Plus (also known as Motel) is the eponymous first album released by The Bad Plus in 2001. It contains covers, a jazz standard reinterpretation, and original compositions. The last track of the album “Love Is the Answer” is an original composition written by the bassist Reid Anderson. The groove played by Dave King implies references to so many styles, merging jazz with rock music and African drumming. He is one of the most celebrated and representative drummers in modern jazz.

dave king drum transcription

Here you can download for free all the transcriptions presented. Keep on drumming!

DOWNLOAD THE PDF


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