Advanced Funk Studies has been written by Rick Latham an LA based drummer. Rick started playing aged 12 and has been an active teacher and performer for over 25 years. He is a well respected player, and he has worked some great artists in his time.
The book says it offers patterns for advanced players in the style of today's leading funk drummers. There are some amazing funk drummers around today, so this should be interesting...
The book starts with a few introductory exercises that get your hands and feet working together. First you'll be playing combinations of the hi-hat, bass drum, and snare drum. After that you're into the hi-hat exercises that focus on quarter notes, 8th notes, off-beat patterns, 16th notes, and open notes.
Once you've got those down, there are some more snare, bass drum, and hi-hat combination exercises. This time there are some tom beats thrown in for good measure. And then there's a page with some fill patterns that get all you limbs working together.
The next section - Funk patterns, is where it all starts to get really interesting. Everything covered so far is brought together in some super tasty funk grooves. There are plenty of them to work through and it's great fun too.
Definately the stand out section for me has to be the Transcriptions. If you've heard some of those classic funk grooves and always wanted to play them note for note - you'll love this! There are grooves by great players like Steve Gadd, David Geribaldi, Harvey Mason, Peter Erskine, and more. Some of the grooves you can look forward to include '50 ways to leave your lover', 'Ebony jam', and 'Shake your body down to the ground'. Awsome.
The last main part of the book is the Solos section. Here all the grooves and patterns you learned in the book are used in some 1-2 page long solos. There are 10 in total and they are a good challenge giving you something to work towards at the end of the book.
To finish off I'll mention the 2 cds that come with the book. They are good quality and there is an example for all the important exercises and grooves in the book. Even the 10 solos at the end of the book have cd tracks too, so you can really get a good sense how what the finished product should sound like.
From start to finish, Advanced Funk Studies is simple to follow and layed out well. The notated examples are clear, but there isn't a lot of text to go with them. Still, it's quite straight forward to see what you should be focusing on.
I found the learning curve was quite easy going. The exercises start off fairly simple and get more difficult as you progress through the book. By the end, you'll be churning out those ghost notes, syncopated off-beats, and unusual sticking patterns like a master.
The most important point is that it's enjoyable to work from. This style of music is all about enjoying the groove and feel of the music, and the book certainly gives you some fun stuff to learn!
Working through the book was great fun, and my confidence with this style has rocketed. The transcriptions and solos alone are enough to justify using it, but the exercises do get you ready to tackle them. A couple of good cds that demonstrate everything clearly makes all the difference as well.
Any downsides? There's only one that I can think of and that is that you are left to work through every section without any guidance from the book other than a couple of sentences. I think a few pointers on some specific exercises and grooves would have made it perfect.
I'd say this book is best used by intermediate to advanced players who have some limb inderpendance already. You could use it if you're a new player too, but the learning curve will be a lot steeper and you might get frustrated.
Best place to buy? Amazon usually have some good offers, so I'd try looking there for the best price.
The Final Word: if you wanna become a master of funk, Advanced Funk Studies will get you speeding along the right track. It's straight forward - practice, play, enjoy, and funk out!