The Sound of Joe Morello

Been a long time but summer is busy here. Got a bunch of posting ideas soon to be published.

Today’s subject, mr. Joe Morello. The guy that made people sing the drum solo due to the massive hit material of Dave Brubeck Quartet’s in “Time Out”.

As it occurs, I’m really trying to get my feet on the ground on jazz comping. My opinion is that -as in everything we do- you gotta find the sound that suits for you. It would be like an example you can always steal and rely on.

Being a rock drummer myself, you can tell that comping is not my strong suit. I took me years to throw away the concept of playing swing without thinking strictly the ride pattern. I believe that’s a major step. But in the long way I still have I have the difficult task to make my kit sound good while doing so.

Enter Joe Morello, the guy with the rockiest bass drum and tom tuning during the ’60s jazz era. It’s easy to tell when its him banging the skins mainly due to his signature tom phrasing tonality.

I ‘ve never seen the Dave Brubeck Quartet play a standard before and I’m glad this upload exists cause you can really delve into Morello’s thinking. Like most of the drummers I like he’s always on the hunt for THAT lick tha will make every song part bounce and feel light/heavy/danceable whatever you name it.

He’s got the sound I would go after… I’ll see you again in 50 years then…

Some Don Henley Magic

“Well, tell me this. What does Modern Drummer want with me anyway? I’m no drummer.”

Don Henley’s question to interviewer Robert Santelli.

When you think of rock drummers, Don Henley doesn’t cross your mind early on the list. He may not even appear ever in there. That doesn’t mean you can’t remember every single fill he played on ‘Hotel California‘. A fine example of smart drumming, parts someone could actually sing and raw attitude, Don Henley is not a player to ignore.

He had a strong opinion on the sound of the instrument and that can be seen in the documentary ‘History Of The Eagles’ where he remembers the fights he had with the great Glyn Johns about the tom micing. Don wanted them to be separately mic’ed cause he knew he could really sell his minimal fills. You can witness it by the time the band started making records with producer Bill Szymczyk.

Note the simplistic 8th note fills before the choruses of “One of These Nights”. Toms baby!!

Stongly influenced by the Ringo sound in the late Beatles albums (Abbey Road and later…), his snare drum became iconic for the LA sound of the ’70s. Generally, a 14×6,5 Supra played smoothly and in a relaxed backbeat fashion was his weapon. Gearwise, as I can see in the documentary pictures he always prefered a lacquered natural finish Ludwig kit (3ply w/ reinforcement rings) and ALWAYS in concert mode. That means no reso skins at all. The resos came back when the band reunited but that era won’t concern this article.

I ‘ve delved into their discography for days now¬† and as I understand his laid back style really drove the band in terms of group time. At many points, it seems like he’s dragging the groove back and forth and it’s probably true. Many drummers criticise him for that in forums. I personally LOVE that. You see, many things about The Eagles had to do with personal expression of the members. Everyone sang perfectly¬†so when it came to instruments, each one had his ‘little things’. For Don, one thing was surely loose time feel (ex. above on “You Never Cry Like A Lover).

And then he started dragging some more:

And some more:

But you see that’s the thing with “soft rock” it gotta sound soft ain’t it? Hence, the fat snare, the simple melodic fills, the careless dragging time feel. I wouldn’t imagine these songs played in any other way. And that’s enough for everyone to respect mr. Henley.

“I was definitely a “less is more” drummer, there’s no doubt about that. And that was by choice. I could have played more complex stuff. I could have been a busier player. But that’s not what I wanted to do. I played what I wanted to play. I even started out with the traditional grip. And then when Ringo came along I turned around the left hand and started playing that way. So that takes away some of your dexterity right there. When you turn that stick around, rolls and things like that become almost impossible, although I can do sort of a rudimentary kind of thing with that grip. And remember, I was singing. And that in a way forced me to be simple. But the simple drummers were always my favorite kind of drummers.”


Time for my personal favourite Don Henley recording:

I don’t know, people tell me I got the soul of an old man.. But I just can’t get enough of that verse.

And then of course there’s this live performance from 1977 that really wraps up the whole purpose of this post. Notice how he plays every fill of ‘Hotel California’ exactly like on the record (lots of songs are on YouTube from this performance).


PS. Check out the whole interview on Modern Drummer magazine here.


Drum Cam Footage #3 Spectralfire Live

Spectralfire is the trip-hopish project of a man I really admire who goes by the name of Labis Kountourogiannis. The selft-titled debut record is a real eye-opener for fans of alternative pop genres. Have a listen here (drums played by that guy Serafeim Giannakopoulos).

I have the honor of being the gigging drummer of Spectralfire for two years now which is something I paricularly enjoy since the band is consisted of extremely talented people. Special shoutout to Giorgos Bouldis, a BEAST on the bass. The gig is pretty demanding considering that I have to be consistently tight with a click track + loops which I dont control. Room for mistakes: none.

ps. Lost my balance there in the 5.58 mark but saved in the last moment.

Vox/Guitar/Synths – Labis Kountourogiannis

Guitar – Orestis Falireas

Keys – Matina Kountourogianni

Bass – Giorgos Bouldis

Gear Used: Gabriel Custom Bass Drum 22×16, Premier Royal Ace ’69 Snare 14×5.5

Bosphorus Cymbals: 15″ Traditional Dark Hats, 20″ Traditional Thin Ride

Roland SPD-SX (not used on this paricular video)