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The Hot List Of Drum Solo Milestones

Even though drum solos have long the butt of smarmy jokes, the history of drum soloing is rich and lined with important milestones. Here are some classic drum solos that we believe helped elevate the medium from being a mere craft to an art form.

Best Solo Of All Time
Elvin Jones on “A Love Supreme, Pt. 3: Pursuance” from A Love Supreme (1964) by John Coltrane. Jones’ frenetic attack takes drum soloing beyond an exhibition of chops and speed and into texture and color.

Most Melodic Drum Solo
Joe Morello on “Take Five” from Time Out (1955) by Dave Brubeck Quartet. By using space between notes, Morello exploits his open drum sounds to weave musical themes in 5/4 — a revelation in its time.

Most Technically Dazzling Drum Solo
Billy Cobham on “Stratus” from Spectrum (1973) by Billy Cobham. All of the fiery elements that elevated Cobham to legendary status with Mahavishnu Orchestra in the ’70s are refined to perfection here.

Most Out-Of-Control Solo
Keith Moon on "My Generation" from The Who Sings My Generation (1964) by The Who. What else did you expect? Moon goes bonkers playing wild triplet figures at the end of The Who's first big U.S. single.

Best Solo Over A Vamp
Steve Gadd on “Aja” from Aja (1977) by Steely Dan. By allotting equal weight to his sticks and pedals, Gadd makes a linear solo statement that follows form without risking a single extra note.

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  • I’m disappointed that not one Tony Williams solo made this list! My personal choice would be “Joshua” from Four & More Miles Davis’ album.

  • I like “Radar Love” with Greg D’angelo, and that thing Keith Moon does at the beginning of “Won’t Get Fooled Again is pure golden rock energy. Maybe they aren’t longish solos, but great nonetheless.