Terence Higgins Clinic

9:58 We come in and it looks like a photoshoot.  TH is on stage and playing amongst a buzz of photographers.

10:03 Pearl Rep comes out.  Is everybody ready to get their “Swamp Grease?”   Plugs all the gear.

10:05 TH comes out.  Plays groove.  Lot’s of kick and snare syncopation.  Adds some cowbell grooves into the mix.  He sits WAY high ip on the throne.  As if he’s siting over the kit.  Moves further away from the groove as he blasts around the it.  Lots of explosive snare and tom work.  Lays into a New Orleans stye groove.  Lots more snare work.  He’s playing a green Pearl Reference kit in Oz Mist … or something like that.  Moves into a Latin groove and comps around on the toms.  Huge cymbal and kick ending!

10:15 TH takes the mic
TH: I tried to take you through a bit of history there in that solo.  THe New Orleans feel with the modern styles that we play.  I’m going to play one more song before we get into the New Orleans pocket of this Masterclass.  This is a tune from my solo CD called “Catharsis.”  (TH pumps up the crowd before starting the track).

10:17 THe tune is a wah-heavy, organ funk tune.  Odd groupings at the start before laying it down straight.  TH’s groove is big with cowbell punches sprinkled in.  He takes big breaks at the turnarounds and fills.  The tune opens up, with a delicate breakdown.  TH fills around the cymbals before settling back into a groove.  Huge ending.  He is crazy fast!  He moves up and down the kit with ease.

10:24 TH takes the mic and plugs his CD.
TH: Good morning!  We’re gonna get this thing started.  Welcome to New Orleans!  In my neverending quest in unlocking the secrets, what makes this style so funk and so wild?  Every drummer needs that pocket.  The primary role of the drummer is to have that pocket – to get gigs. We’re going to talk about a different kind of pocket – the New Orleans Pocket.  From a historical and cultural perspective.

I have the pleasure of playing with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  These guys pioneered the modern brass band movement in New Orleans.  The music history in New Orleans dates back to Congo Square.  The 2 traditions that came out of New Orleans are the Second Line and the Black Mardi-Gras Indian culture.  These are like 2 sides of the coin.  There both African influenced and at some point intermingle.  Most of us think they know what Second Line.  It transcends music that came out of segregation.  The European INfluence on brass music, but after the creoles got a hold of it, the beat changed.  It’s the way we speak in NO, it’s the way we celebrate life and death.  It’s indigenous to NO.  It originally referred to the funeral procession.  Second line is what the clave is to Latin America.  It’s a way of life that transcends music.  It’s not just a street beat.  Another term that means second line refers to the whole parade – and event.  Within that event, there are different characteristics.  There’s Secondlining, that’s the dance.  The drumming comes from the bass drum and snare drum player.  The beat is specific.  Originally it was inspired by the clave and the 2/4 European street beat (demonstrates Euro marching rhythm.)  Back in Congo square, which was the only place where slaves were able to be African, and when they began to play the music of the day, the beat changed (demonstrates how the bass changed.  Adds more hits on the Big 4.)  The most important aspect is the bass drum.  YOu can play the second line with just a bass and cymbal.  The cymbal would add a lilt to the beat with a coat-hanger beater.  (Demonstrates.  The cym is on the offbeat with the kick getting more and more funky.)  Then every four bars they’d play a little turn around (demonstrates).  I call that the “Holy Beat.”  When you go down to NO, these cats take this so serious!  It’s like a tribal, spiritual experience.  The whole community is into it.

10:38 TH: In order to demonstrate this, I’m going to ask you guys to participate in this (audience claps off beats and says “ahhh” on the and of 4.)  Can you feel that?!  This beat is so intense … it’s the most realist thing in America.  Not to get political, but yes we can”  and yes we did!  (applause)  I took this culture for granted and I figured it was like this all around the world.  Once I embraced that culture, I had a much deeper understanding.

I have a few excerpts from the Dozen I’d like to play for you to get a feel for what the horns are doing.  This tune is from a tune called “Gloryland.”

10:42 Plays to Dirty Dozen Brass Band track.  Kick and snare second line.  The brass band seems to all be group improvising.  Adds in some cowbell then woodblock.

TH: So you see what happens on the streets of New Orleans.  That was ore along the lines of a traditional thing.  Here’s a variation of a groove they’d play ON the streets.

10:44 Plays with track.  Tuba lick opens up the piece.  Baio kick and hat pattern with snare and cowbell punches.

TH: That real real modern street joint there. (Demonstrates the groove without the track).  I might comp a little different

Now, the clave thing … a lot of cats I see – the way they approach second line is all about the 3-2 clave. (Demonstrates 3-2 on kick with snare comp).  That’s more like a Bo Diddly thing or the Dixie Cups.  That’s a more modern approach, from an outside perspective.  On the street, the groove is more (demonstrates kick with accent on the and of 4 then begins to sing the groove). As you can see, I started to add the cowbell, and that’s where the Mardi Gras Indian tradition carried over.  We would wake up on Mardi Gras day and see Indians in full costume to honor American Indians who helped slaves.  We would go around the neighborhood and pay homage the Native Americans.  It’s a powerful thing to see this, to witness this.

The rhythms of this culture was also influenced second line.  It was on the floor tom (demonstrates, sounds Native American.  Adds cowbell and tambourine.)  You can hear all these rhythmic ideas.  I’m gonna play one more song for you in the last 2 minutes.  This tunes is called “In the Bywaters.”

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