Friday, October 5, 2012

B3s and other keys, Kenny Clarke and books too

An entire crop of new box sets worth studying, plus a great reference book have occupied my attention recently. First up are two box sets of the great Hammond B3 artist, Jimmy Smith.

The ten CDs that make up Kind of Smith is an eclectic collection of his work spanning most of his career:

Another 10 disc set that you may want to consider as an alternative is 18 Classic Albums, which shares a lot of tracks with the first one.

If you have never heard of Jimmy Smith (rare, but possible), or are not very familiar with his body or work and how it would relate to drummers, here are a few clips that showcase his style and, more importantly, the grooves that go along with it.

The next two box sets go hand-in-hand because not only were Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke key to the formation of bebop (indeed, Clarke - Klook - invented the drumming style), but both here closely associated with each other as expats in Europe.

A few notes: Bud Powell is one of three pianists whom I call my holy trinity - the other two are Teddy Wilson and Thelonious Monk. The importance of piano to drummers is close to the same level as bass in many types of music. See Piano: the other percussion instrument for why.

The importance of Klook to jazz drumming - not just bebop - cannot be over emphasized. His contributions, especially how he moved time to the ride cymbal and used the call and response patterns between the snare drum and bass drum to interact with the other musicians changed jazz drumming in a major way.

Here are the two box sets, combined, that I recommend: Kind of Clarke

And the companion set, Kind of Powell

Here is a clip of Klook and Bud in action:

Another important pianist is Horace Silver who was one of the founding members of the Jazz Messengers, and was also the pianist on the classic (and essential) pre-Jazz Messenger albums recorded live at Birdland with Clifford Brown, Art Blakey, Curly Russel and Lou Donaldson: A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1, and the second set A Night at Birdland, Vol. 2.

The above background should inspire any drummer to acquire and study Kind of Silver, which contains ten CDs of some of the best hard bop piano in jazz:

Here are a few clips to show Horace's style:

The next box set is a perfect segue from Horace Silver because of the importance of A Night in Birdland albums mentioned above: Kind of Brown. However, for drummers one of the main reasons to study Clifford's work is the long term collaboration with Max Roach. This is relatively speaking since Clifford's life was tragically cut short at 25 (along with Bud Powell's brother, Richie, who was in the same auto accident.)

Here are some representative clips that will give you a glimpse into what is in this set:

My last item is probably the ideal research tool for the topics about which I write: The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. My copy is enroute, but the reviews on the product page sold me. I am a jazz junkie and also an amateur historian who has a love of the Great American Songbook and am always on the Jazz Standards web site anyway. That makes this one of the most sensible purchases I've made in recent memory.

I hope this post was helpful.

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