Adam Nussbaum is one of today’s most inspiring jazz drummers. If you are not familiar with his playing, please listen to him on any of his many recorded appearances. His playing is completely versed in tradition, and he is keeping the torch burning for all the jazz greats. Here is one of his exercises that I have found so helpful for the development of a jazz drum solo on a song form. The main idea is to take the rhythms of the melody of the song and then accent that melody by playing triplets, hand to hand. Ex 1 is the first rhythmic phrase in the style of “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Ex 2 illustrates that phrase in triplets, with the accents on the melody phrase. It can be a bit odd at first, but it really helps develop control, phrasing, accents, and solo ideas. You can move the accents around the kit (even playing them on the bass drum). Thanks, Adam, for so many years of inspiration!
Danny Gottlieb has played with Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, the NDR Big Band, and is currently a member of Gary Sinise’s Lt Dan Band (ltdanband.com). He is an associate professor of jazz studies at the University Of North Florida. dannygottlieb.org