DVD review – The Art of Playing with Brushes

Brush CoverHudson Music has put out a dvd called “The Art of Playing with Brushes.” Not to be confused with Clayton Cameron’s “The Living Art of Brushes” or his “Brushworks” products. Incase you are wondering, no, Clayton Cameron doesn’t appear at all in this dvd.

First off this DVD isn’t for beginning brush players and it certainly isn’t brushes’ answer to “Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer.” A brainchild of Steve Smith and Adam Nussbaum, this dvd is an in depth look at the different musical choices that different drummers make in identical musical settings. Adam & Steve (aka; the bald brush brothers) recruited: Joe Morello, Eddie Locke, Charli Persip, Billy Hart, and Ben Riley, to participate in what amounts to a brush clinic with seven teachers.

Every drummer plays along with the same backing tracks so you can analyze each drummers’ take on the same music. There are several different styles of music that they play along with (swing, ballads, latin, etc…) and within each style there are different tempo tunes so the whole spectrum is covered. After their performance, each drummer is interviewed by either Steve or Adam, they demonstrate some of the moves and patterns they did, and give their thoughts on playing the music. I must say that the information in this dvd is very valuable but you need to have a good deal of prior brush experience to truly take advantage what you will learn here. If you are a beginner I suggest you pick up one of Clayton Cameron’s aforementioned products to get some instruction on great brush technique.

In typical Hudson Music fashion, there is a huge load of extra goodies, including: PDF’s, archival footage of great brush performances, brush lessons with Adam Nussbaum, Louis Bellson, and Ed Thigpen, a play-along CD without drums, a photo gallery, and a 36 page booklet with lots of info on the players. I should note that because they put the booklet in the dvd case, they used an unconventional mechanism for holding the dvds. The first dvd is suspended over the second, both on one side of the case so the booklet has the whole other side to its self. While they succeeded in saving space, they also made it vastly more difficult to get the second dvd out of the case if the first dvd is inside at the same time. A minor detail, but I hope they don’t use this style of case again.

One major problem that I had with the dvd is that, it is basically has the same effect as three shots of Nyquil. It’s not that the dvd is boring, it’s that the music is so soothing that it’s that actually sleep inducing. You might not have that problem, but you should know that I did. Just be prepared if you are intending to sit down and watch the whole thing in one shot. It’s hypnotic and long so you might want to pop some no-doze before attempting to tackle this bad boy.

I must say that I’m disappointed that (and this may be more revealing about me than the dvd) most of the names on this dvd are people I hadn’t heard of… and if I had heard of them, I’m not sure if “brush master” would be the first thing to pop into my head. They did a good job with the younger guys. Steve and Adam are both grade A brush players, and I suppose that most of my nominees for old school brush masters wouldn’t be available for shooting a dvd. Being dead is kind of a schedule filler.

On the whole I give it 3.5 of 5 stars. You really need to take into consideration your interest and skill with brushes before you rush out and buy it. It’s up there in price, but if you’re a brush nut and you’re not still wet behind the ears it’s worth more that it costs. However, if you just “dabble” in brushes, pick up something else.


Also remember that highly hypnotic and not exactly an attention grabber. If you get into it you might fall asleep and if you have a short attention span you’ll need to watch it one piece at a time over several different viewings.

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