Quarter Notes

Gotta start writing again. Too much material to share. Many news too.

Instead of blabbering about everything I could just get down to the important stuff. Guess what: quarter notes. Actually not the notes themselves but more of what they hide into them.

Each kind of music has its own pulse and in most cases during the rise of western (and mostly pop) culture that pulse gets its groove by the syncopation that surrounds all those quarter notes.

Take disco for example. Oh forgot to mention something. For the past month I just listen to Disco-Funk playlists and records. Anything that went around 1977-1984 before the real heavy drum machinery made it’s way to most big studios is my cup of tea at the moment.

As with every musical phase I go through, I tend to continually stumble upon the right modern records that were influenced by that particular genre. And finally I get to my point. Take disco for example.

Some facts about this song. It’s a track from a record called ‘All Night Long’ by the B.B. & Q. Band. Discogs credits the drummer to be Yogi Horton and I can really believe that because the grooves on this album are IMMENSE. This particular song was sampled by NxWorries aka Anderson Paak & Knxwledge in the song ‘Scared Money’.

It’s a medium to slow (considering the age) disco song. And guess what, the groove is just quarter notes on the hihat. Ooor maybe it’s not just that. No, it’s a constant 16th note pulse that’s being used as a subdivision for little fills and kicks during the songs. These disco dudes could play a whole 6-minute arrangement using the hihat only and still hitting all the right spots in the mix.

Anyway, just listen to this damn record. Lyrics are awful but the production is beautifully smart and the grooves are tastier than pancakes.

John ‘JR’ Robinson is messing with my brain

It was clearly about time I would take serious notes on John ‘JR’ Robinson‘s discography. Obviously, the starting point of the obsession was this following video (I bet most of you already know it).

After you experience that a lot of things start crossing your mind. Things like”Dude, how many 80s tracks I ‘ve considered cheesy music with good drum machines?” or “how ignorant am I to NOT know this song has a live drum take of this caliber in it”. Anyway, I get pretty sentimental with trivia like that.

The research led me to start listening to all the Rufus feat. Chaka Khan records but particularly the ones they recorded with JR behind the drums (79-83). Masterjam is probably my favourite one until now. The album kicks off with the following track:

Yeah I know, Quincy Jones is the Midas of pop but before we give him the credit for the whole thing just check out this drum take. I was out taking a stroll while listening to it, feeling it and grooving with it. And then… the 2.54 mark hits me like punch.

Some drummers just need less than a quarter note to make themselves legendary in a track. I honestly don’t know how do you keep your composure while knowing you CAN do that but it inspired me deeply to follow that method in every way I can.

 

 

Andy Newmark -The Space Between

Along with the infamous Mike Clark (standalone post will be done later), Andy Newmark is for me one of the most iconic musicians of funk discography. He’s the drummer on ‘Fresh’ by Sly & The Family Stone, a record that has made funk history.

I was never aware of his session career until I made a careful listen to Roxy Music‘s ‘Avalon’ (1982). There are numerous songs with special grooves in there but the one that really stands out for me is ‘The Space Between’.

The drumming here brings out a  darker ‘JR Robinson’ vibe with a tendency to small artistic intricacies rather than serving a strict pattern. All in a ‘one take’ kind of attitude.