Nate Smith, master drummer – as a composer and musician he is both bandleader and session-sideman. He’s racking up the credits – in the last week or so I’ve reviewed his James Gadson-aping star-support turn on the Jose James album of Bill Withers covers and his furious funk attack as a cameo-star with The Fearless Flyers. And there are plenty more examples to find and dig.
Plus there are his own albums – and tons of great Insta/YouTube/Facebook videos…
So here Smith presents a half-hour study in solo drums. Which is, I realise, something that’s almost entirely for drummers only.
Although, DJs, producers, bass-players, songwriters might all find application for this.
Some 30 years ago Bernard Purdie released a similar thing, a groove album (in fact there were two volumes). And that’s the obvious touchstone. Simple backbeat groove playing that then branches out. We hear, over two and three-minute running time, fills creeping in, clever alternate sticking, cymbals being choked, ghost-notes piling up, grooves are being built and then expounded upon – and it’s all for education rather than merely showing off; the most musical drumming you might hear in a solo context.
There’s plenty of space in these grooves (Get Down, Get Down and DumDum). At other times Smith builds to thunder (‘Spress Thyself, Big/Little Five). There’s even a tribute to Tony Allen’s rubbery, elasticated feel (Ghost Thud) where Smith keeps a simple groove firing and manages that Allen-trick of offering surprising mid-meter fills that never confuse or complicate, that seem both surprising and simply par for the course.
Inspiration here for drummers of all ages and perhaps for musicians wanting to cop ideas, or merely hear how drums can be used.
And of course, in keeping with one of the album title’s meanings it’s important to remember these are just the offcuts he had lying around. It’s a business card of sorts, but it’s by no means all this great musician is capable of providing.
Check it out down below:
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