This video provides a wealth of ideas and information plus incredible trio performances featuring John Abercrombie and Marc Johnson.
Peter demonstrates and discusses his philosophy of the jazz ride pattern, ride cymbal technique, basic jazz independence and coordination, improvisation and composition on the drumset and more. PDF booklet included.
Expanded Intro by Peter…
“Time” has been an object of fascination and study for me ever since I first played a drum. Learning how to create a rhythm on its own or with the accompaniment of a band (during my early years this was almost always in the form of a vinyl LP record) was an exercise in music-making trial and error. Traversing the arc from imitation to creation, ultimately discovering how to “own” a beat and drive any song or ensemble to its full potential has been a life-long pursuit. I like to think that I’m finally beginning to get it.
“Time” is a musical essential. But I chose not to label this pair of videos, originally produced in the late 1980s, as “Timekeeping is Everything.” Rather, I specifically embraced the notion that everything we do in the course of making music should be part of that rhythmic continuum that provides the pulse and center to any performance or song. “Time.” So, whether you are playing a simple beat or a fill or solo, time should inform every choice you make at the instrument.
The musical performances, exercises and examples that comprise this video are all meant to encourage the viewer to regard time as a most-trusted ally and friend. Listen to this friend … pay close attention to what time has to tell you … and respect this friend by giving it the proper space in which to breathe. The goal is to realize your greatest potential. Playing from muscle habit is music-numbing. Make the music feel good and have fun with the dialogues that are possible within the rhythm section and the rest of the band.
“Time” is not always so kind when it comes to the effects of ageing. But I can say with some relief as well as pride that the contents of this video compilation have stood the test of time. I may have lost some hair and increased my waist size over the years, but the musical truths contained herein have aged well and I am happy to report that I can still recognize them.
I wish you enjoyment and, hopefully, some enlightenment as you view and listen to this DVD. Be sure to take advantage of the newer/bonus materials we’ve included in this DVD edition: a brushes lesson that I filmed in my home studio for the benefit of the Vic Firth company that fills the one gaping hole always present in the original VHS series, plus a terrific performance from a 2004 PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Conference) clinic gig in Louisville, Kentucky with vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and bassist Tyrone Wheeler. Like much of the other music on the DVD, these tunes were played without rehearsal. The glue that holds it all together? “Time.”
Be sure to also check out a video montage that my son Taichi Erskine put together (to the accompaniment of the song “Cats & Kittens” performed by the Lounge Art Ensemble with Bob Sheppard on saxophone and the late Dave Carpenter on bass). The photos represent a life happily spent playing music. Playing time. Everything is timekeeping.
To paraphrase Willie Maiden, a saxophonist and composer/arranger who manned the baritone chair in the Stan Kenton Orchestra when I first joined the band in 1972, here’s something he would say at the conclusion of every clinic presentation he made about (what else?) time.
Now’s the time to take the time to improve your time, and I promise: you will have the time of your life.
~ Peter Erskine