Ed Soph Masterclass

9:51 Waiting for the clinic to start. Ed just came out and swapped his ride with a huge Connie. There are quite a few people in the ballroom.

10:01 No start yet. I think Ed left the room. The place is packed now.

10:03 Intro guy. Talking about some if Ed’s famous students.

10:04 Ed plus band take the stage. Ed does thank yous. It’s a piano, bass, drums trio. NT guys. Stephan Carlson (pno) and Fred Hamilton (bass). Clinic is going to be about improvising and accompanying in a jazz rhythm section. Will be using “All the Things You Are.”

10:08 Opening performance. Really out there and interactive. Go real laying down of time. Almost like a group improv. The kit sounds fantastic. The Connies are singing. Down section and sparse, pointillistic cymbal accents. Moments if straight ahead sections. Ed’s grip looks tight. He looks to be muscling every ride stroke. Delicate ending.

10:15 Ed: Now we’re going to start where it came from. Here’s the real book version. (Band plays super square version. Bass is particularly bad.) Cocktails anyone? (laughter).

Now I’m going to keep a groove behind them. The drummer reacts to the form rather than the melody.

10:17 Ed plays a swing groove with cross-stick backbeat. Add toms in B section. Band is playing more syncopated.

Ed: if you can’t do that, then don’t try to do what we did earlier. This is the foundation. I was doing what the bass did-repeating the quarter note pattern.

10:20 Plays examples of playing out of balance. HH too soft. Brings HH up and band tightens up. Then plays too heavy bass quarters.

Ed: Isn’t it amazing what difference. The bass being drum too loud is a result of dynamic dependence-if the right hand is loud, the the right foot is too loud.

Now I’m going to break out of the pattern and start improvising in the form of the tune at the turnarounds or fills.

10:24 Plays thru tune again.

Ed: A common misconception is that a fill is supposed to be a drum solo. (Plays example, sounds like a huge big band setup). New players don’t realize that fills are in time and adhere to dynamics to the rhythm section. It doesn’t have to be made obvious by playing louder or more complex. Now I’m going to start improvising.

10:26 Plays tune and breaks out longer. Fills are more intricate and further away from time keeping.

Ed: what was I doing there? I’m playing along with my inner melody. I have my version of the tine in my head. I’m not trying to copy what these other guys are playing. If I comp this is what’s going on in my head (scats). If you cans say it, you can’t play it. Credit to Steve Houghton. Listen when the piano comps.

10:30 Plays just with the piano. There’s a clear dialog between the 2. He’s only playing the kick and snare.

Ed: Some people would think we practiced that a long time. But we share a common vocabulary. Also the spaces. Miles Davis said “I listen for what I leave out.”. That’s how simple it is. There’s an important hook up between the snare and and he piano. I wasn’t leading or following. I was listening, but I was also guessing. Being unpredictable in a predictable environment-the tune. That’s what guys play these same tunes. Now let’s add the bass to the equation. Listen to early jazz, it was polyphonic-everyone talking at once.

10:36 Plays thru with bass. Bass adds depth, pedal tones. He’s exploring a wide range of note choices up and down the fretboard.

Ed: let’s talk about the ride pattern. I always assumed the ride pattern was this (demonstrates standard swing ride.) By listening to players, I realized that the ride pattern can be just as interactive and improvisational as the snare. I think like a piano player.

10:40 Plays with a repetitive ride at first, then opens it up. Fills around the phrases.

Ed: you can see how that changes the entire texture of the time. Watch Roy Haynes plays and how DEPENDENT he plays. It all works together.

It took a long time to break out of that standard ride pattern. Max Roach said take a year to work on your ride.

Question: How do you play to recordings?

Ed: You’ve gotta know the tune so you can play the melody. Also, know that every drummer had to know how to improvise-not just jazz drummers. Develop the ability to syncopate on the ride and accent with the snare. Don’t punch with the ride.

What’s left? The HH. Not everything has to be a timekeeper. Those things that are not time keepers but have to be in time. Time is inside, not on your foot.

10:49 Plays tune and brings it to how it was at the top of the clinic. Every limb is now comping and has a dialog going.

Ed: I hope you got something out of this.

10:54 Rich Holly comes up and presents Ed with the 2008 PAS lifetime achievement in Education Award.


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