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a rare glimpse of drum set artistry
September 24, 2010 7:29 AM   Subscribe

If you were to ask me "What is the most artistic drum solo you've ever heard?", I'd say "You mean the one with the most exquisite sense of dynamics? One that doesn't bludgeon you over the head, but instead pulls you in with its subtlety and restraint? Where masterful technique is purely at the service of musicality? That best conveys a musical vision and a deep understanding of the interrelationships of percussive timbre and tone that make up that remarkable instrument we call the drum set?" You'd say "Yeah." I'd say this.

If you've got headphones handy, I strongly recommend using them. There's subtlety in Papa Joe's performance that you'll miss if you listen to this out of laptop speakers and the like...

Oh, and watch out for that sound logo at the end of the clip: a real mood killer.
posted by flapjax at midnite (49 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obligatory: "You don't have to do no soloing brother, just keep what you got. Don't turn it loose...'cause it's a mother."

That said, this guy is really fun to watch. He didn't even unbutton his jacket!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2010


He's like the Old Spice guy, on drums.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:41 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, one of the things I love about Metafilter is that it exposes me to wonderful things that I would never see otherewise and helps me appreciate thing that are outside of my paradigm.

This is one of those things.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:42 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Great performance, thanks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2010


Those who came of age in the 60s spent more time listening to drum solos than sitting in school, and the whole of every sweaty drum solo ever labored over by Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Carl Plamer and the rest, was not worth two seconds of this fresh breeze from Papa Joe. The only way he could get more subtle, would be to rest his hands on the drum and let the pulse from his fingers throb softly on the head.
posted by Faze at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


That was the perfect way to cap off an otherwise draining day.
posted by cerulgalactus at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2010


Nick: That's Neal Peart, he's the greatest drummer alive!
Harold: Neal Peart couldn't drum his way out of a paper bag!

posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't think it was possible to beat the virtuousity displayed here - clearly I was wrong.

As a swing dancer, drum solos are one of those things that really puzzle me and generally irritate me (if they're in the middle of the song I've come to dance to). They're usually damned hard to dance to and last a very long time. But the Papa Joe solo is intriguing. I'd LOVE to try to dance to it.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:53 AM on September 24, 2010


Well sure, OK... but, but, but...
posted by Mike D at 7:57 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dangnabbit ChuraChura! (Oh well, great minds think alike, etc, etc...)
posted by Mike D at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2010


I wouldn't say it's the "best" or "most artistic" or anything like that, but my favourite sounding drum solo is this old chestnut (starts at 2:30 or so). I'm not sure sound engineering gets any better than that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:08 AM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Quite different to the Papa Joe solos (which, I think is excellent) but I think this one, with a heavily modified kit, is great too.
posted by ob at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2010


Great solo, but those facial expressions... it's as bad as watching Mick Fleetwood [shudder]
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2010


I think the painting equivalent to that solo would be watching someone paint an off-white canvas white two stipples at a time.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:31 AM on September 24, 2010


Papa Joe becomes PART of the drums in this solo. A big blue nod to his memory.
posted by Senator at 8:31 AM on September 24, 2010


It was good musically. However, try covering up the bottom 1/4 of the window and watching the first part. LOL.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:40 AM on September 24, 2010


those facial expressions... it's as bad as watching Mick Fleetwood
I think they are an essential part of the performance.
posted by fish tick at 8:44 AM on September 24, 2010


He's like the Old Spice guy, on drums.

...but those facial expressions...

...try covering up the bottom 1/4 of the window and watching the first part. LOL.


Yeah, his expressions and demeanor may seem a bit, um, whatever, but... dollars to donuts Papa Joe got laid like fuckin' linoleum.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 AM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


i hadn't seen this before, somehow. a fundamental gap in my appreciation. many thanks--i realize that the feeling invoked is very similar to how i feel when watching Bernard "Pretty" Purdie explain the genesis of his eponymous shuffle. "Hey hey ho ho ho ho hey hey heeeeeeey!"
posted by Grizzlepaws at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2010


And if you think this was good, and it is, then you must hear Papa Jo play with brushes. There is no one better. He's brilliant. What technique. Notice the way he switches his left-hand stick around between his fingers as he works. Fucking amazing. I'm a drummer... I've been playing for more than 40 years, and I probably learned more from that clip than I've learned from any other drummer in the past 20 years. Thanks for posting it. I'll be watching it often.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:08 AM on September 24, 2010


He has total control of his craft.
posted by nola at 9:18 AM on September 24, 2010


I'm with fish tick. I loved that he was able to play a solo like that completely disaffected, tickling the skins while winking to the audience like they were in on the joke. The part where he starts swinging his arms across the drumset around 3:30 with the rest of his body upright except for a shrug and a head-nod and THOSE EYES... it's pure showmanship.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2010


damn

Watch him quietly playing with the snare tension lever in the first half of the clip, carefully tightening and loosening it to keep it from snapping into place and be heard over him playing the skins with his hands.

This is a man who loved his job and did it well.
posted by ardgedee at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2010


Sweet, just sweet. It's like the kit is just an extension of his body. And the best part is the way he looks to be having so much damned fun.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:28 AM on September 24, 2010


Once saw Max Roach do a long drum solo on nothing but the high hat. Magic.
posted by twsf at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2010


*devil horns*

MOBY DICK!!!111 WOOOO000!!!!11
posted by clvrmnky at 10:22 AM on September 24, 2010


This is a cool link, but isn't this a massive amount of editorializing? Am I missing that the framing is quoted from somewhere?
posted by cmoj at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2010


cmoj, here's the framing part that you may have missed.

I never got to see Jo Jones live--I mean, I probably could have, but when I first started going to see live jazz, I wasn't so much into bebop (still not so much, but I can appreciate it). But drummers that I hung around with would have arguments about which Jo(e) Jones was more influential to drummers--with of course the Kenny Clarke adherents as well. Thanks for sharing this--Jo Jones needs to appreciated by a new generation.

It may not be apparent to non-drummers, or those who don't listen to jazz, but there is a sense of tradition that is present--although it is physical and not oral, it is (to me) akin to orality as compared with written tradition. Drummers like Ajaramu Shelton, Robert Shy, Don Moye, Phil Wilson could all drop "quotes" going back to Baby Dodds--and some would gladly walk you through an evolution of styles as they learned them.

Elvin Jones,, Max Roach, and Art Blakey were the reigning masters when I was coming up and I had the opportunity to learn a little from Elvin and Blakey. The only limiting factor was my absolute lack of talent.

Faze tried to drop one of his patented trolls here, but few drummers I know would dismiss Ginger Baker as readily. He is another one who takes tradition seriously and it is evident in his playing. It wasn't much called for in Cream.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2010


Thanks for reminding me to watch an hour of Moby Dick solos this afternoon.

compare
January 9, 1970 Royal Albert Hall: I II
with
May 24th, 1975 Earl's Court: I II III
posted by headless at 11:28 AM on September 24, 2010


while on the topic of rockin drums, i must always plug for the rocktopus himself, zach hill of hella
posted by Grizzlepaws at 11:37 AM on September 24, 2010


I once got to drive Max Roach and his band around during a jazz fest. That was pretty cool.
posted by sneebler at 12:32 PM on September 24, 2010


cmoj, here's the framing part that you may have missed.

So, because Flapjax is awesome (I think we all agree on that) he doesn't have to follow the guidelines everyone else does?
posted by cmoj at 12:58 PM on September 24, 2010


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBA4vWQRBA0
well I like this because the guy is, like, blind and stuff. Crappy sound though, I fear
posted by Redhush at 6:01 PM on September 24, 2010


It may not be apparent to non-drummers, or those who don't listen to jazz, but there is a sense of tradition that is present--although it is physical and not oral... Drummers... would gladly walk you through an evolution of styles as they learned them.

Very true. I was at a drum clinic in the spring watching Mike Clark do exactly this for an audience of (mostly) young guys who (mostly) were looking for tips on how to get ahead in the music business. Clark, of course, is (mostly) known for his funk drumming with The Headhunters, but he knows all the styles, and imitated one legendary jazz drummer after another in a fascinating mini-history of the music. (This was, in fact, one answer to the 'how to get ahead' question — learned versatility, which enables you to get calls for all different sorts of gigs or recording sessions.)

arguments about which Jo(e) Jones was more influential to drummers...

I always preferred Philly Joe, but then again I never knew much about Jo. There's probably no question that Jo — 12 years older — was more influential. Interesting that the two died only a few days apart in 1985.

cmoj, here's the framing part that you may have missed.

I totally missed that well-deserved round of applause myself; it appeared during my semi-annual cross-New England migration when I was offline. I think that what we also need, in addition to that post, is a movement to get flapjax enshrined (as Jo Jones has been since 1979) in the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:19 PM on September 24, 2010


haha! Thanks, LeLiLo!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:45 PM on September 24, 2010


I hear a lot of tap-dancing in this. And sure enough, from the wiki, "He worked as a drummer and tap-dancer at carnival shows until joining Walter Page's band, the Blue Devils in Oklahoma City in the late 1920s".

Also, completely brilliant solo.
posted by Wolof at 11:15 PM on September 24, 2010


Great clip.

Aesthetically, I've always preferred drummers who bash it out on a small, simple kit (the one in the clip is pretty close to the most basic you can get). The moment I see roto-toms or extra cymbals or (god forbid) a gong my bullshit detector starts to blink red.

Then again, Keith Moon and Stewart Copeland and Neil Peart are great in their rock-n-roll context. It's just a complex you'll notice with beginning drummers or older ones who frankly aren't very good -- the idea that the next piece of gear will make you great.

So here's my choice clip: the dude from Deerhoof, going off on the most basic of kits and using all kinds of cool tricks to get the most out of his equipment.
posted by bardic at 11:17 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my all time favorites
posted by Vibrissae at 12:26 AM on September 25, 2010


Hey, we have a drum solo thread! Great chance to introduce Kenny Clare - one of the best drummers on the post war big band scene in Britain. Here he is in a feature duet number with trumpeter Grisha Farfel, and he has a good solo spot in this clip of the Clarke/Boland Big Band.

(Does it count as a self link if I admit that he was my godfather? He and my dad were band mates in the Oscar Rabin band in the early 50s.)
posted by woodblock100 at 4:02 AM on September 25, 2010


> "the dude from Deerhoof, going off on the most basic of kits and using all kinds of cool tricks to get the most out of his equipment."

Yes! I love Greg Saunier too. I think he rocks out a little more in this clip though.

I'm trying to find something on YouTube that conveys why I love Can's Jaki Liebezeit.
posted by palimpsest at 4:56 AM on September 25, 2010


I love this thread!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:22 AM on September 25, 2010


I thought the solo from the main link was absolutely terrible. What a boring, tedious, meritless piece of nonsense. It was just totally random, it didn't add up to anything, it didn't go anywhere. There was barely a shred of musicality to it. What on earth kind of exalted mental state do you have to be in to find that enjoyable, really? A completely rhythmless disconnected collection of uninteresting noises. What is enjoyable about it? The fact that it's so amusical? Is it the amusicality which appeals through some snobbish sense of elitism? Why isn't there a flipping beat? Boring!!!
posted by rubber duck at 2:32 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why isn't there a flipping beat?

Ah, but there is a flipping beat, my dear rubber duck! In fact, there are lots of them! You see...

There were flipping beats.
And skipping beats.
Hopping and sliding and hipping beats.
Beats within pulses,
pulses and taps.
Beats close together,
beats with wide gaps.
Rhythms born of a shuffle, a step,
from street-corner cats that were savvy and hep.
Beats made of meanings, all interrelated,
beats that are slippery, beats syncopated.
Beats that don't pound like some thudding machine,
but rather, move lithely: they shift, bend and lean.
Rhythms you missed cause you are not attuned,
missed cause your ears must be plugged or cocooned.
Couldn't pick up, couldn't hold in your hand,
a whole world of rhythm, you can't understand.
And sadder, yet still, is you seem somehow proud
of not feeling the groove, yes, you shout it out loud!
"I don't hear the rhythm!" you scream, clear and true,
never mind that there's millions, yes millions who do.
But hey, listen man, ain't no biggie, don't sweat it.
With luck, hey, who knows?
Maybe someday you'll get it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 AM on September 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hey Flapjax, great poem! Have you been reading much Dr. Seuss lately? :-)
posted by woodblock100 at 5:41 AM on September 26, 2010


I love Seuss. He is a kind of god to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:44 AM on September 26, 2010


My favorite drum solo was in a They Might Be Giants concert where the drummer did solos in the styles of John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon, Stevie Wonder (pre- and post-'80s), and Animal. John Flansburgh would yell, "To hear Keith Moon, press or scream 18" (or whatever), we did, and the guy sounded like Keith Moon. And so on.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:06 AM on September 26, 2010


Rhythms born of a shuffle, a step

There's an invisible anvil some wear round their necks.

There was barely a shred of musicality to it.

My kid could do that! Any booboo could do it!

What a boring, tedious, meritless piece of nonsense

Now that shit don't swing. Let it be on your conscience.
posted by Wolof at 8:25 AM on September 26, 2010


Another statesman, still with us, at 84. Snap, Crackle, Haynes.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:37 PM on September 27, 2010


kirkaracha, a recording of that can be found on the TMBG compilation album Dial-A-Song.
posted by audacity at 3:34 PM on September 29, 2010


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