Stanton Moore: The Magnolia Special
Over the years playing in New Orleans I’ve come up with several grooves that work well in a variety of situations. This groove was inspired by a mixture of the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians, Herman Ernest, and Johnny Vidacovich. Note the 2-3 clave underlying this groove. Try playing this groove straight, swung and most importantly, somewhere in between. Experiment with different open and muted tones on the snare (with the snares off) by leaving the left hand on the drum and/or lifting the left hand off the drum to play cross sticks. Also play around with ringing rimshot accents with the right hand during beats 3 and 4. Don’t forget to accent the and of beat 4.
The beauty of this groove is that when you place your hands on different voices around the kit you can get different textures that work well for different musical settings. Try the following:
A) Left hand plays cross stick, right hand plays cowbell, floor tom or side floor tom. This works great for a Mardi Gras Indian groove but can work behind a soloist in a funk setting for a slight departure from a backbeat groove.
B) Both hands on the snare drum. Unison notes are played like flams. This is great as a street beat or as a one-bar fill or groove variation.
C) Right hand plays closed hi-hat, left hand plays snare or cross stick.
D.) Right hand plays the bell of a ride cymbal, left hand plays between cross sticks on the snare and the toms. This is a cool New Orleans/Latin hybrid.
For further info on New Orleans drumming, make sure you check out the book New Orleans Jazz And Second Line Drumming by Johnny Vidacovich and Herlin Riley, and the DCI New Orleans drumming video series featuring Herman Ernest, Earl Palmer, Vidacovich and Riley. For a crash course on record, check out Professor Longhair’s Crawfish Fiesta, Wynton Marsalis’s Majesty Of The Blues and The Meters anthology, Funkify Your Life.