Point of View
We asked USA Producer,
Vocalist, "the Groove Merchant",
to answer the following question...
How do R&B/funk drummers keep the
groove whilst soloing?
by Larry Vann
When you look at great drum solos in all the many genres of music, be
it jazz, R&B funk, or fusion, you must look at how the solo is put
together. It starts with the opening statement, how the drummer tells
his musical story.
I would like to focus on the R&B funk drummers and how they move and
groove in and out of some of the funkiest drum solos ever played. It’s a
very special talent to be able to solo within the groove and to be able
to keep the groove, keep the people dancing or hold their attention
throughout your solo; to be able to make a musical statement and tell
your story through your rhythmical and melodic musical ride, and then
also have the ability to land the ‘Mother Ship’ and
keep it in the pocket.
Let’s take a look at one of the great masters in R&B and funk drumming,
who is one of the fathers of funk drumming and the heart beat behind the
JAMES BROWN BAND. At the top of my list is the great
CLYDE STUBBLEFIELD. He is one of the founders of funk drumming. The
foundation he laid down on the JAMES BROWN recordings is totally
amazing. Clyde’s history making creation on “COLD SWEAT” totally changed
the groove and direction of the music forever.
Now, for any drummer who is up for the challenge to not only play this
pattern, but also be able to create an interesting drum solo with the
groove of this piece of music, it is a wonderful challenge for any
drummer. CLYDE STUBBLEFIELD moves and weaves in and out of the pattern
so smoothly. On the recording, check out how he keeps the strong beat on
the one, playing the eighth note pattern on the hi-hat, with the
syncopation between the two and four on the snare drum.
There is live footage of JAMES BROWN at the Boston Gardens, where CLYDE
STUBBLEFIELD is featured on
COLD SWEAT, doing his ‘thang’. It is incredible how he performs this
amazing drum solo with the groove of COLD SWEAT. He tells a wonderful
story, at the same time, keeping the time and the groove, and then he
slides the groove right into JAMES BROWN’S hand. Now that’s funky!
The challenge for us as drummers, when we get the spotlight to shine on
us for the five or ten minutes, or whatever amount on time that’s given,
is to remember you are telling a story. Make it interesting. Take your
audience on a musical ride. And remember to MAKE IT FUNKY, YEAH! And
keep the funk on the one.
© 2009 Larry Vann
Larry Vann demonstrates his
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