The Art of Bop Drumming has been written by John Riley - a well-known jazz musician. John has worked with many great names including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Quincy Jones, so you can be sure he knows his stuff!
After spending some time reading this book, and playing through the examples, I can say i'm very happy with it. If you are looking to start playing bop drums, or want to brush up your skills, have quick read through our review to see what's instore...
The book has been split into 7 main sections - time playing, comping, soloing, brushes, more jazz essentials, charts, and the appendix.
Every section is packed with quite a lot of detail, and there are tracks from the cd accompanying the notated examples. It's all really easy to follow, and starting with some simple exercises, it takes you step by step to some more challenging stuff.
As well as the examples, the cd has some play-along tracks with the drum part removed, so you can play the drum part with the backing band. It's great fun too!
The section on time playing includes some good pages on using the ride cymbal, bass drum, and hi-hat to keep the pulse. There are also a couple of nice pages on practing including what to practice, goals, warming up, and keeping it fun. It definately helped me to get a bit more focus, and my time has improved too.
The section on comping is really detailed, in fact it's the bigest area covered in the book. It helps get your limbs moving independantly, covers comping with the snare drum and bass drum, and accompanying a soloist. There are plenty of examples and I found it worthwhile spending a bit more time here to get the most from it.
I'd say that one of my favourite sections was on using brushes. I have never been great with brushes, but this chapter has really helped to improve my technique. There are around 10 brush patterns covered, all for different tempos and time signatures, and all with pictures of the brush movments. Really good!
As for the other sections, the pages on 'more jazz essentials' covers playing the shuffle, playing in "2", 3/4 waltz, samba, 12/8 feel, and mambo. The section on charts goes over some pretty standard reading info, and the appendix has a cool 'reccomended listening' area with great players like Max Roach, Art Blakey, Roy Haines, Philly Joe Jones, Mel Lewis, and Frankie Dunlop being featured.
So, after having spent some time working through The Art of Bop Drumming, what's the verdict? It's quite simple really - brilliant! There's a good amount of detail, but it's still accessible and easy to follow. The written examples and cd tracks are top-quality, and really enjoyable to play. The book keeps things fun which helps you stay motivated to work through it. It's a pleasure, not a chore.
Even though the book is only 80 pages and seems reasonably thin, it'll keep you busy for months if you really work at learning what it teaches. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that you do get your money's worth.
Any downsides? Nothing much really. If you're not too great at reading drum notation, you might not be able to get the most from the written examples, but you can still hear them on the cd. Other than that it's all good my friend.
I'd say this book is ideal for anyone who is new to bop drumming, or is an intermediate/pro player who wants to tighten up their skills. You'd definately need to have some general technique under your belt first, so if your a total beginner - leave this book for now.
Best place to buy? Amazon usually have some good prices, so I'd try looking there for the best price.
There's also a follow up book by John Riley called 'Beyond Bop Drumming' which might be worth a look at if you really want to get into the playing style that followed the bop era.
The Final Word: The Art of Bop Drumming is an excellent book, get it if you want to start playing bop, study bop in more detail, or learn Jazz drums in general. There's no better bop drumming book out there. Essential.