Groove Analysis: Mike Clark

Groove Analysis: Mike Clark

Mike Clark is a funk drumming icon and pioneer. His linear grooves on Herbie Hancock's album Thrust established him as an innovator and creative drumming force back in the '70s, but jazz is his first love, and his jazz chops are equally impressive. Both styles are well represented in his latest album with pianist Michael Wolff, Wolff & Clark Expedition Part 2. Here are some highlights.

"Monk's Dream"

This track begins with percolating funk patterns, and Clark utilizes a lot of double strokes voiced between his hi-hat and snare. His ability to accent the second note of his doubles, seen often in the hi-hat patterns, adds a cool offbeat syncopation that's challenging to imitate. He lets the patterns breathe by occasionally allowing his open hi- hat to ring. Clark is no basher and his dynamics are always impressive; some of his ghost notes are almost hinted at rather than played.

DRUM! Notation Guide

"Sunshine Of Your Love"

Wolff and Clark's take on this Cream classic, and it isn't just a cover. They alter the time signature to 5/4 for the intro and add swing sections to boot. The intro is unusual. Clark plays a repeating five-note pattern beginning with flat flams on his snare and floor tom on the first and third notes, with his bass drum filling in between them. In the first couple measures of the second line we see how Clark flips the groove so it now begins with two bass drum notes, to better accommodate the piano parts.


Another funk lesson, this is the solo drum intro from the song that leads up to the piano entrance. Clark begins with a five-stroke roll that lands on his bass drum. Notice the recurring paradiddle-diddle-diddle voiced between his hi-hat and snare in the last measure of the first two lines. In the next two lines, Clark morphs the patterns to include his bass drum in the rudimental lick.