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10 Insane Contemporary Jazz Grooves (Plus Free Drumless Loops)

Brandon Toews  /  Quick Tips / Oct 8

Did you think the golden age of drumming ended with Tony Williams and Buddy Rich? Think again. Modern drummers like Kendrick Scott and Mark Guiliana are pushing the boundaries of the instrument and doing things no one’s heard on the drum kit before.

If you want to get inspired and challenge yourself, check out these 10 new drum grooves played by contemporary jazz drummers. They’re rhythmically, technically, and creatively unique.

And if you want to try them out for yourself, download the drumless track under each song!

(Download the sheet music here)

1. “Respond” by R+R=NOW

Drummer: Justin Tyson

You’ll hear quarter notes on the ride, the hi-hat foot ‘chicking‘ on 2 and 4, the bass drum on every downbeat and ‘a’ of beat 4, and ghost notes filling in between the backbeats. There’s also a quick 5 stroke roll going into every four bar phrase.

Download the practice loop with the click:

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2. “Smash” by Avishai Cohen

Drummer: Mark Guiliana

This song is complex but accessible (it’s in 4/4). You’ll notice some cool kick groupings and broken ride cymbal parts. When you repeat the four bar phrase, take out the very first kick on bar 1 and add it back in on the third rotation (so it lines up with the bass part).

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

3. Be Water” by Kendrick Scott Oracle

Drummer: Kendrick Scott

Kendrick Scott is a thoughtful and expressive player, and his dynamic range is amazing. He makes odd time signatures feel smooth and seamless. This song is in 11/4, but it might help to think of it as alternating bars of 6/4 and 5/4. You’ll like the chill ghost note groove here.

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

4. “We Are The Drum” by Kendrick Scott Oracle

Drummer: Kendrick Scott

The dynamics in this song are ridiculous, and the track is basically a drum solo. The opening section is particularly interesting with a groove that goes between two bars of 5/4 and a bar of 4/4. Check out that syncopated ride bell groove!

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

5. “Dance Of Shiva” by Billy Childs

Drummer: Eric Harland

This song is in 11/4 time (we’ve broken it down into two bars of 4/4 and a bar of 3/4). Eric Harland plays straight quarter notes on the ride and syncopated patterns on snare and kick, which line up nicely with the rest of the band.

Download the practice loop with the click:

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6. “Eleven Wives” by Avishai Cohen

Drummer: Mark Guiliana

This two bar pattern is an 11/8 shuffle! It’s broken up into three groups of 3 with two 8th notes left over at the end.

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

7. “Human Nature” by Vijay Iyer Trio

Drummer: Marcus Gilmore

If you know the Michael Jackson track of the same name, you’ll recognize the melody. This version is in 13/8 time with groupings of 5s and 3s.

Download the practice loop with the click:

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8. “Vardavar” by Tigran Hamasyan

Drummer: Nate Wood

Can you believe this complex-sounding tune is in 4/4? Check out those complex groupings and rhythms.

Download the practice loop with the click:

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9. “The Court Jester” by Tigran Hamasyan

Drummer: Nate Wood

The drum parts work brilliantly in this song, with bass drum and hi-hats in unison, ghost notes filling in, and a variety of groupings of 2 and 3.

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

10. “The Grid” by Tigran Hamasyan

Drummer: Arthur Hnatek

While the bars of 17/16 and 15/16 technically add up to 4/4, there’s a LOT going on. With 5 note groupings, it almost has a quintuplet feel. Put a bell on one of the rack toms if you want to recreate the creative percussive sounds used in the tune.

Download the practice loop with the click:

Download the practice loop without the click:

What do you think? Are we in a modern golden age of drumming? Would you try these complex drum parts?


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