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Groove playing

Hello and finally, a new post! Im going to try and update this more often with thoughts and ideas related to drums and music. For this post, I wanted to write about something that has been bothering me for quite some time. That is the term “groove player”. Oftentimes I will meet other drummers, whether its new students or players at gigs etc, who, because of there lack of technical ability or inability to improvise, call themselves groove players. Its as if this term is just thrown around and implies that its an easy thing to do (ie “oh i cant play all that Vinnie Colaiuta stuff, im just a groove player). JUST a groove player!! I hear this all the time and it amazes me how many drummers still dont respect the groove, and call themselves groove players. Great groove playing has many elements to it. Touch, tone, and space being a few of the main ones, and some of the great groove players like Steve Jordan, Jeff Porcaro, Charley Drayton, and Clyde Stubblefield have technique and chops too. Just because they dont play solos all over the place, doesnt mean they didnt have chops. It takes chops and technique to play the James Brown Funky Drummer groove with the ghosted snare notes played at the right volume, and the hi hat played with the right touch, and the bass drum played not too loudly. This stuff is hard to do and takes practice! It also takes playing from the heart. Another thing I go back to when I think about groove playing is something I heard Steve jordan say once. “A good groove should have hypnotic qualities”. People get hypnotized by the same thing over and over. THATS WHAT GROOVE PLAYING IS ABOUT!! I often see drummers in cover bands playing say, a Michael Jackson song like “Rock With You” as an example. Many times they’ll be playing the correct 16th note feel on the hi-hat, but will be “busying up” the bass drum part to “make it more funky”. Hmm, well, lets see. That record Off The Wall (with the great John Robinson on drums) sold how many millions of copies? Why, as a drummer, would you not want to cop exactly how he played on that song/record? Mr. Robinson also went on to become one of the most sought after studio drummers in the world, so why not respect his part and play it like he did (or try too at least). Alot of drummers will say they get bored playing the same beat over and over. Well, to me, thats a pretty selfish way to think when you are playing music with people. It should always be about whats best for the song and what the people who are listening are going to want to hear. Not about how you as a drummer can “throw in some cool shit” that not only isnt musical, but most of the people who are listening wont dig or understand (except for maybe a few of your drummer friends who came to see you). I guess what Im trying to say is, our job as drummers is to support the music and the other musicians, and most of the time, that requires playing in the pocket and keeping a good strong, consistent groove. That, in itself is not easy. In this world of Gospel Chops and drum videos that glorify speed and chops galore, we need to take pride in the fact that we, as drummers, are the foundation, and the foundation has to be strong in order to build a house. Now, as you can tell if you’ve seen any of my youtube videos, Im all for being able to solo too, as long as its in the context of the music, and i feel that being able to improvise on the drums IN A MUSICAL WAY, is also important, but it just seems to me that too many drummers are forgetting the importance of playing in the pocket. I make my living, pay my mortgage, and support my family by playing in the pocket (or trying to at least, still working on it all the time!!) Sorry if this is too negative a post, but had to get it off my chest

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