Q:When playing in a jazz band and a drum solo comes along, I sometimes find myself lost in the form of the song. How do you approach not losing track of yourself in the drum solo? — Eric
A:What you ask about keeping the form of the song during a drum solo is an interesting point concerning playing together in a group. The simplest way I have of looking at that problem is through understanding the exchange of communication that is going on.
To break it down, if two musicians in a group “lose” each other one way or the other, then there’s a breakdown of communication. Between any two in a group, when the communication is good, it is 2-way. Let’s take the pianist and the drummer. They’re “playing together.” Communication-wise, that means they’re “agreeing” over and over again where they are and that they’re hitting “together”—every note, every phrase. If one “loses” the other—and it’s agreed that they shouldn’t—then something the drummer played didn’t get understood by the pianist—or vice versa.
It then becomes a responsibility on both their parts to become more understandable to the other. Again, it’s a 2-way proposition: the pianist must learn what the drummer is playing and the drummer must play in a way that’s understandable to the pianist.
Ok, so much for theory. Practically speaking, if you “lose” the drummer and if he’s playing the form correctly, then you may have to listen to recordings of the performances and try to work out what he’s doing. If that’s a problem, ask him to show you what he’s doing. On the other hand, if he’s blowing the form and you’re trying to understand that, then it goes downhill from there.
And an even more practical piece of advice: talk to the drummer about it.
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