Groove Analysis: Kimberly Thompson

Groove Analysis: Kimberly Thompson

Touring around the world with Beyoncé is only one square of Kimberly Thompson's storyboard. Studying with John Riley, Ben Riley, Lewis Nash, and Antonio Sanchez, and playing with top-notch players such as guitarist Mike Stern, she has also built a successful career as a jazz drummer. A Child's Eyes, Thompson's most recent effort as a leader, shows a mature approach: Groove, feel, and dynamics are spot on, but her improvisational spirit and responsiveness to the other musicians make this album a must listen.

This song is a jam played in the style of Weather Report, with each bandmember contributing as part of a collective solo. Though the entire track weighs in at only one minute, Thompson treats us to a number of funky moments. In measure two, as the song fades in, we hear a unique combination of open hi-hat and floor tom. Thompson then plays a snap- shot of the Purdie shuffle on the (4) & in measure three and the 1 of measure four. Notice the ghosted bass drum notes in measure five and the use of the high tom on the (2) & in measure six. In measure seven, we discover that Thompson's pulse is slightly ahead of the bass. Check out her subtle use of ghosted snares throughout, over-the-bar hi-hat openings from measures eight to nine, and rimshots in measure ten.

A smidgen of closed hi-hat leads us into the first eight of a 32-bar drum solo/intro. Thompson deftly outlines the groove using mostly two ride cymbals. Take a look at how she shapes and colors the phrase by using space in measures two and seven and articulating with the bell of the ride. Swung eighth-notes on the toms introduce us to the next phrase.

Thompson plays up-tempo jazz with broken ride rhythms, contrapuntal snare and bass drum, snare accents, and crashes into the ride. Listen as she holds down the fort in measures one, three, five, and seven, playing a rhythmic figure with the bass on 1 and (2) &.