Groove Analysis: Rayford Griffin

Rayford Griffin's second album as leader, Reflections Of Brownie, pays homage to his uncle, the late great trumpeter, Clifford Brown. Painting standard tunes with a modern brush, you get the best of both worlds: timeless melodies and a killer groove.

"Cherokee"

The first measure of the passage uses open hi-hat punctuations and a jagged fill into well-navigated ensemble hits in the second measure. Griffin showcases upside-down funk in the second and third lines with backbeat displacements on 3 and (4) ah, while ghosted notes and accented hi-hats add texture to the sixteenth-note flow. A sextuplet fill in the last measure leads into an abrupt stop on 4.

DRUM! Notation Guide

"Sandu"

At first listen, it's difficult to figure out what's going on here. In this eight-bar drum solo to lead off the track, Griffin reveals only two downbeats (besides the first one) in measures five and seven. Only later can we surmise that this floaty songo is in five. The dynamic range of Griffin's snare is huge, including ghosted notes, medium hits (the 2 & of measure four), and cracking accents.

"Joy Spring"

A study in the relationship between drummer and bass player. Notice how the bass hits seamlessly with each bass drum note throughout, while Griffin provides breathing room for sporadic melodic bass lines. Instead of being notey, he stays out of the way by using a steady stream of closed hi-hat and ghosted notes or keeping to high frequency sounds and rhythms.

"Willow Weep For Me"

Griffin brings Brown's beautiful ballad to life by wisely choosing to play a Bernard Purdie-influenced half-time shuffle underneath. He provides added interest by sustained open hi-hat (measures one, five, and eight) and varied bass drum placement and sticking — changing between a RLR and RLL sticking on beat 4.