Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Drum Legends: Steve Jordan

Thank you to all who enjoyed the article on Ringo Starr. Here’s the 2nd drummer in this 4-part feature – Steve Jordan.

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Steve Jordan is definitely one of my favourite drummers. I actually did a full-on book project on him when I was at University. I think its so important to find out about new drummers and develop an interest in those whom we enjoy listening to. It really helps us as drummers become better listeners, better players, and also helps us to play with a band more effectively. In short, we mature as musicians. So without further ado, here’s a bit about Steve, why I think his contribution to music over the past 30 years is significant, and also some wisdom in the form of comments from the man himself as well as a few groove transcriptions.

Steve Jordan was born on January 14th, 1957 in New York. After studying as a classical percussionist at the famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC, Steve Jordan launched a legendary career in rock, collaborating with artists such as Keith Richards, Don Henley, John Mayer, The Pretenders, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob Dylan and Alicia Keys. As a Grammy Award-winning record producer, his inspired presence and craft have raised the standard. Steve Jordan is well known as a multi-instrumentalist, musical director, producer and a writer of exceptional quality. In addition to his late 70’s / early 80’s tenure with Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, Steve has been one of the most in demand session drummers in the world. He has recorded and toured with such artists as The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, BB King, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow and many more. Steve has evolved into a Grammy Award winning producer with Robert Crays’ album ‘Take Your Shoes Off’ and the nominated ‘Bring ‘Em In’ by Buddy Guy. While he has played on countless hits, from Alicia Keys ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Devils and Dust’, and he continues to produce with such works as the John Mayer Trio album ‘Try!’, the John Mayer album ‘Continuum’, John Scofield’s ‘That’s What I Say,’ ‘Possiblilties’ by Herbie Hancock, among many others. As a musical director, Steve has worked on such high profile projects as Superbowl XXXX, the Martin Scorsese/Antoine Fuqua film ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Steve Jordan is one of the most influential and sought after session drummers in the world. He has accomplished more in his drumming career than he ever could have imagined. Steve isn’t known in the music industry for playing the hardest licks ever known to the human mind, or for the technical skills that would make even the late, great Buddy Rich squirm (although he has great technique and soloing ability!). What Steve Jordan is best known for is making the drums sound good in any musical situation. He can take a simple beat and make it sound great. He can take a more complicated beat and make it sound so fluid and simple. He has taken his drumming beyond technique, having studied formally, and found his own sound, making the music the best it can be on each record he appears on. He has taken his influences, from Kenny Clarke to Carlton Barrett to David Garibaldi to Steve Gadd, and formed his own unique voice, and continues to inspire countless drummers today. Steve Jordan is one of my favourite drummers ever, and has made an amazing mark on the music industry.

Some Steve quotes:

“Every building has a strong foundation. When you’re building a rhythm track, you have to provide the foundation. The drummer has to be strong and solid.”

(The Groove Is Here DVD, 2002)

“When drummers practice with time, they usually practice with a metronome. That’s fine except a key ingredient to the secret of timekeeping is overlooked. I realise that in drumming you start the note but don’t stop it. That opened me up to a whole new world for me. You need to know the full length of a quarter note.”

On the subject of groove in an interview with Modern Drummer magazine: “That’s why people play so much stuff, because they can’t play a steady beat. But when you get into playing a steady groove and you can hypnotize somebody with that beat, that’s the bomb. And it takes confidence to know you can do that and not care what anybody says. People might think you don’t play fills because you can’t, but you have to do away with all that. They’ll feel it when it’s good” (Modern Drummer October 2010).

“Simplicity is not stupidity. Just because some- thing sounds good in your mind doesn’t mean that it’s dumb.”

Some transcriptions:

WHO DID YOU THINK I WAS” by John Mayer Trio (from the record ‘Try!’)

MAIN GROOVE:

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Variation:

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Steve Gadd

Steve Gadd is one of my favourite drummers of all time. Actually, one of my favourite musicians of all time. Steve changed the way drums were played. Of course, many before him led the way: Buddy Rich with his technical and musical brilliance, Louie Bellson and Gene Krupa swinging the big bands, Max Roach’s melodic philosophy, Roy Haynes snap, crackle and pop, Elvin Jones polyrhythmic phrases etc etc. The list could and should go on. But back to Gadd. He is a one-off. He is a pocket master. His individual style saw him being elevated as a drummer and emulated. He took marching band rudiments and made them groove in rock, pop jazz, funk, fusion, big band, latin and more. He played musically and thought only to enhance the music. He never over-played or missed a beat. He always meant what he executed. He could totally beast his chops with artists like Steely Dan and Michel Petrucciani. He could just lay back and swing playing crotchets and you would still recognise his sound. He could groove on his Yamaha drums and you would recognise the tone and the way he hit them. He influenced countless drummers and raised the bar with how drums should sound and support the band. 

For this first article in a series before my videos go up online I would like to highlight Steve Gadd, one of the most important drummers of all time.
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Modern Drummer Article on Funk Albums

Modern Drummer has always been my favourite drum magazine. It is packed with such useful information in every issue, and is the first point of reference I use when researching and need some help. Enjoy this article from Modern Drummer’s website.

10 Indispensable Funk Albums

by Jeff Schaller

One could argue that no music form highlights the drummer more than funk. The fat grooves, the dirty backbeats, the snap of a tight snare, the syncopated hits with a stellar horn section, the deep pocket against a smooth bass line…you’re probably groovin’ in your seat just thinking about it. Funk music is all about the beat, and it’s no coincidence that many of our most influential drummers have made a name for themselves playing the style. If you want to learn the essence of the style, here are ten classic albums you should definitely check out.

Dyke and the Blazers - So Sharp (album cover)Dyke & the Blazers

So Sharp! (Kent)
Drummer: James Gadson
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How Great Is Our God

At the tail end of last week I uploaded my fourth drum video on YouTube. Currently that video is uploading onto Vimeo, which is slightly higher quality. Also being uploaded to YouTube are the two final drum tracks, which I won’t unveil yet. In the meantime, enjoy ‘How Great Is Our God,’ one of the best tracks I think that was cut through the project, with Steph Macleod particularly shining.

 

Video Filmed at Holy Trinity Church, Wester Hailes, Edinburgh on Friday 27th January, 2012.

Video Filmed by Jelizaveta Burhanova, Chris Gillies & Molly Gibney.

Video Edited by Jelizaveta Burhanova.

Drums Engineered by Michal Jankowski & James Parnell. Mixed by Michal Jankowski.

Backing Track Engineered & Mixed by Frazer Knox.

Backing Track Musicians:
Steph Macleod (vocals & acoustic guitar)
Mark Cameron (electric guitar)
Peter Crockett (piano)
Dave Biddulph (bass guitar)
Brian Macleod (percussion).
Backing Track Musicians:
Steph Macleod (vocals & acoustic guitar)
Mark Cameron (electric guitar)
Peter Crockett (piano)
Dave Biddulph (bass guitar)
Brian Macleod (percussion).

Modern Drummer Magazine

This is a continuation of a series of things that have inspired me to be a better musician. The next thing I would like to speak well of is Modern Drummer Magazine. I have to unashamedly admit that I’m a bit of a magazine geek. I always have been. I loved trying to create my own sort of magazines as a youngster and still have a big collection of football magazines. In February 2004 I bought my first issue of Modern Drummer. It was one of the first times I had ever seen a drum magazine, I didn’t really think they existed. And, for one to be in a newsagent in Stornoway, I was taken with it. To go with that, Travis Barker, my favourite drummer at the time was on the cover. I have since collected every issue (just about). And with that I have learnt a lot about drummers, music, general concepts and tips, sight reading as well as interviews with today’s top pros and how they work in the industry. In short, I think Modern Drummer has influenced countless drummers across its history. I also have one of the book’s they published for their 30th anniversary (titled “The Drummer”) and some special editions (“Drum Gods I & II”). All in all, it continually inspires me month after month and I look forward to every issue. Call me a geek or whatever, but Modern Drummer has inspired me in so many ways and continues to do so. 

Here is an article from the website, showing just one of the many good points of MD.
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An article on Practicing

By Brian Macleod:

Preparation for Practice:

There are some well-known “formulas” of how to practice drums, some of which are helpful, whilst, unfortunately, some are not. In preparation for my practice sessions, in my personal experience, I try not to go into anything complex, but do things that get the mind working. Usually I’ll first stretch my arms a bit so I don’t end up hurting myself later on, then I’ll start practicing by working on a pad, doing basic Rudiments such as Singles, Doubles, Flams and Paradiddles, which gets you into a familiar routine. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to these particular rudiments, but know your limits and your capabilities in accordance to your rudimental knowledge. I find that it’s useful to not get into too much depth here, but to do this for roughly 10-15mins. Another useful technique is to look at yourself in the mirror, so you can see how your hand technique is, and, if needed, any adjustments can be made. One rule to be made here is that it’s not a speed contest; I suggest playing slow and fast, loud and quiet, as you’ll be working on your dynamics, feel and technique at the same time. If you have a metronome, it can be useful to use that on occasion too.
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