Monthly Archives: June 2021

Remembering the King of Swing

Image: Hundreds of people show up on June 22, 1939, for the funeral of noted jazz drummer Chick Webb, who was born in Baltimore and died at age 34. (Baltimore Sun files)

This month marks the anniversary of the death of Chick Webb. As one of the most remarkable drummers ever to sit atop a bandstand it’s no surprise he’s been the subject of multiple posts here at Off Beat. Here are links to past posts on the “King of Swing.”:

Chick Webb “The King of Swing”

Audio: Chick Webb

Webb vs. Basie

Battle for the Ages

The King of Swing

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Pros and cons of technology on music…

Today I want to discuss the effects of technology on music. No doubt the Internet has changed the way musicians communicate with one another. Nowadays, fans can email their idols, students can study with teachers abroad, and bands can audition new members from anywhere in the world. Thanks to the World Wide Web, musicians never have to be in the same place at the same time and the possibilities for collaborating are endless. Social media sites, to include Facebook, YouTube and Skype, have enabled musicians to connect to an infinite audience by posting videos or sound bites. Anyone can showcase their music, anywhere, at any time, to anybody. This capability can be a double-edged sword. I read an article lately that said that Google, despite being a great tool, has had a harmful effect on the learning process. The theory is that many people no longer feel the need to learn things as they can just look them up on the Internet using a search engine. I am guilty of that.

According to a Braathe Enterprise article titled Is Technology Ruining your Education? “Our generation’s experience with ever-developing technology is nothing short of mesmerizing; it is a process that simply cannot be ignored. Today, a four-year-old child is just as likely to play games on a portable tablet (navigating it with ease), as they are to pick up a set of Mega Blocks. As time goes on, the trends of using and heavily relying on technology for entertainment and education are becoming increasingly popular. Even though the advances in technology are truly amazing, many people worry that it is not only altering the educational experience, but hindering it as well.”

I have used the ‘Net for quite some time to promote my various projects and publications and the relationships I have gained as a result are priceless. Outside of this blog, the most enjoyable interaction I have is through my videos. Many of these lessons are raw and were shot using an iPhone but recently I upgraded. There is something about teaching someone a new pattern, fill, or warm-up routine that really pleases me. I’m the first to admit that I am far from being an expert and there are multitudes of teachers out there who can play circles around me but in my own small way, I am contributing to the drum community. I, in turn, benefit too by learning from other’s videos. The proverbial drum circle goes round-and-round.

When I co-authored my first drum book I knew the print audience was our target demographic but once the book was released as an eBook the digital format opened up a whole new world. Readers could now download the book and corresponding videos instantly and view them on any device they wished. It is the speed in which we can acquire and discern information that makes the ‘Net incredibly powerful and scary all at the same time. We must remember that the foundation of music is the musician’s connection to their instrument. We must still learn how to play, cultivate our skill level, and practice. We must never let technology trump musicianship. Remember that learning is the foundation of all that we do and not all answers can be found on the Internet.

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An Iconic Solo

Here is the video and sheet music of one of the greats, Max Roach, playing one of the most iconic drum solos of all time, “For Big Sid” on his album Drums Unlimited. Notice how Roach tells a story.

Catlett was a huge influence on Roach and a tribute to his hero is expressed here through his drums. This particular solo has become one of Roach’s most popular and has been studied by drummers for decades. At the time, “For Big Sid” was incredibly musical compared to what other drummers were playing and it still stands up today. (Click music and magnify for full size.)

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