The Beat Beginner
Songs Beats & Fills Technique Rudiments Drummers Gear

5 Jazz Licks You Should Learn

Steve Lyman  /  UPDATED Nov 21, 2023

Steve Lyman loves sharing his favorite jazz licks – like he did in this video – so he’s back with more!

Here are five awesome jazz licks you can take away, make yours, and push forward in your own way:

Roy Haynes – “The Matrix”

In uptempo playing, this phrase – which is built on dotted quarter notes with eighth note triplets in between – sounds like it slows down the time to create a unique texture.

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 4.44.16 PM

Tony Williams – Crossover doublestops

This lick uses crossover doublestops between the floor tom, snare and hi-hat and creates a really cool rhythmic sound. Your right hand plays on the downbeat, and you put the doublestop (where you hit the drum with both sticks at the same time) on the e.

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 4.44.24 PM

Bill Stewart – 5 note crossovers

Take this five note lick (RLRRL), incorporate the bass drum, and orchestrate the pattern around the kit as a crossover.

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 4.44.33 PM

Eric Harland – Ascending tension

In this lick, you get an upward tom motion that’s great for building tension at the end of a musical phrase.

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 4.44.41 PM

Steve Lyman – 9 note lick

Inspired by Tony Williams, add four single strokes to RLRRL. It sounds great between the snare and ride – using the ride as a ‘pivot’ – or between the toms. You can incorporate this into different rhythms to create tension and release at the ends and beginnings of song forms.

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 4.44.49 PM

If you like Steve’s style, check out his jazz drumming course on Drumeo!

Steve Lyman is an American jazz drummer, composer and educator. As a performer, Lyman has enjoyed sharing the stage with some of the leading voices in jazz and contemporary music, including Aaron Parks, Jon Batiste, Gilad Hekselman, Nir Felder, Julian Pollack, Chase Baird and many more.

Improve your speed on the drums with El Estepario Siberiano’s FREE course.
Enter your email to get all 10 exercises sent to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll also receive our ongoing free lessons and special offers. Don’t worry, we value your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.