Monthly Archives: November 2020

New Book on “The Professor”

“Neil Peart is acknowledged as one of the greatest drummers of all time. The impact he had on the drumming community was huge. He inspired a generation of drummers and is still a formative influence. He was nicknamed “The Professor” for his musicality, precision and accuracy on the drums.”

This opens the Introduction to the new book from Francesco Vecchio titled: Neil Peart: An Introduction to His Drumming Style. Part Biography – Part Transcription Book this work is an extremely well-rounded look at the life and work of “The Professor,” considered by many to be the best of all time.

This opens the Introduction to the new book from Francesco Vecchio titled: Neil Peart: An Introduction to His Drumming Style. Part Biography – Part Transcription Book this work is an extremely well-rounded look at the life and work of “The Professor.”

The biography portion looks at the life of Peart from a young aspiring drummer to perhaps the greatest drummer ever to pick up a pair of sticks. The book analyzes and includes the drum sheet music for one of his most remarkable works: “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres.” Every drum part analyzed is accompanied by an audio file. The audio samples are available for download (both MP3 and WAV) by scanning a QR code, or for streaming with a link that is provided.

The book presents a song-by-song analysis of five songs chosen by the author. This is an introductory guide for those who want to approach Rush’s discography and Neil Part’s drumming.

The author was kind enough to send a preview copy of the book to Off Beat for review. The first thing that I noticed was the wealth of information included in the narrative. Vecchio covers Peart’s life in a clear and concise manner. Chapters include Drum Influences, The Interview, Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres and Further Listening 1977-1981. A photo gallery is also included.

Vecchio’s admiration for Peart is evident and his passion for presenting the life story of the drumming legend both behind and in front of the kit shines through. The book is intended both for drummers and Rush fans: a guide for all the drummers who want to understand the basics of Neil Peart’s drumming, a document to collect for all the Rush fans, and for the younger generations, a way to approach the music of Rush.

The book will be available from January 4 in two print formats, paperback, and hardcover, and in an eBook version now available for pre-order. For more info about the book:

For more on Francesco Vecchio visit: – Drum sheet music, exercises & other stuff

Here is a preview (Click , then use magnify for full size):

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Interview: Jeff Russell

It’s always a thrill when I get a chance to do a post with a friend from my musical past. Jeff Russell was, and still is, one of the most talented drummers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I used to love to cut class in high school and walk over to his house and watch him play or just listen to music. Jeff introduced me to jazz fusion. Bands like Chick Corea, Vital Information and Steps Ahead were off my radar until I met Jeff. He introduced me to Dave Weckl, Steve Smith and Peter Erskine.

He also taught me about Milton Nascimento and Brazilian music. It was a breath of fresh air for a guy who was into Deep Purple and Iron Maiden. My CD collection grew rapidly thanks to Jeff. I am very happy we were able to reconnect. Jeff was kind enough to answer a few questions that look into his love of Brazilian music:

MA: When did you first discover this Brazilian style of music?
JR: I first discovered this music through a fellow percussionist and long-time friend. We both enjoyed jazz music and were familiar with Sérgio Mendes and Antônio Carlos Jobim, Lee Ritnour. Then I discovered Milton Nascimento when listening to Sarah Vaughn’s Love and Passion on Brazilian Romance.

MA: What are the styles of Brazilian music that you enjoy?
JR: Axe, MPB, Samba, and Pagode

MA: What is it about the drums and percussion specifically that affects you?
JR: I enjoy the various types of percussion, panderios, tambourine, repiques, caixes, quotas, surdos, berimbaus and how they work together.

MA: Who are your favorite Brazilian artists?
JR: Saulo, Jorge Vercillo, Carlinhos Brown, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso

MA: What are the unique challenges to playing this kind of music?
JR: Challenges I find while playing this music are the instrumentation. I adapt and apply my own thoughts and sounds to account for some of the Brazilian percussion instruments I don’t have. The result is usually a rich rewarding sound/melody creation.

Jeff’s experience inspires me to investigate Brazilian drumming for myself. In my book we present World Beats that take the student around the world. Unfortunately, Samba is not one of them. Looks like I’ve got some practicing to do. Here’s a couple videos Jeff selected of Saulo performing in the Brazilian style:

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Little Drummer of Arcole

It’s been awhile since I posted one of my historical pieces…

A courageous young man, André Estienne volunteered for service in the Bouches-du-Rhône battalion in 1792. There he served as a drummer boy in the 51ème demi-brigade de ligne under General Napoleon Bonaparte’s command. On November 16, 1796, French troops failed to seize the crucial bridge over the river Alphone near the town of Arcole. Estienne led his battalion across a river while holding his drum over his head, and on reaching the far bank, beat the “charge”. This caused the enemy ranks to panic and retreat. French troops streamed across the river and the Austrian soldiers were routed.

Bonaparte, who noted the brave conduct of the 19 year-old who would become known as the “Little Drummer of Arcole” presented him as a hero. Estienne was amongst the first to be admitted to the Légion d’honneur and in 1803, he received his cross from the hands of Bonaparte himself. Further glory was to come. He was selected to beat an honorary ruff at the French emperor’s coronation ceremony on December 4, 1804, at Notre Dame in Paris.

Estienne is remembered and depicted in the Panthéon in Paris and on the Arc de Triomphe, also in paintings by Charles Thévenin and Horace Vernet. His drumsticks (below) bear the inscription “Le 1er Consul au Citoyen Etne André tambr à la garde à pieds des Consuls” (“The 1st Consul to Citoyen [Estienne] [André] [drummer] in the garde à pieds des Consuls”[guard]).

(Above photo: In 1862 Estienne’s hometown of Cadenet suggested erecting a monument to the venerated drummer boy. After raising the necessary funds the statue was dedicated at the Place du Tambour d’Arcole on August 11, 1894. During WW2 it was dismantled in 1940 as German forces threatened to seize the area. In 1943 the thought of melting it down was proposed by fortunately it was returned to its original home in 1945.)

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How it’s done

Here’s a little post of perfection personified. First up is Lari Basilio playing her hit song California Waves. Below that is Vinnie Colaiuta recording his part and doing what he does best…

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