November 2002

Jae Sinnett
Musical Drumming Concepts

Jae Sinnett is humbly devoted to what he calls “high-level music,” and produced this video with the goal of helping you articulate your ideas and strengthen your interpretation skills in a more relaxed and confident way. He advocates developing “a more compositional drumming approach by learning the importance of musical elements such as form, thematic development, shape, texture and tension and release,” realizing the “importance of relationships, respecting and trusting your fellow musicians.” In addition to musical skills, his vision requires “soul, passion, fearlessness and the desire to have fun.”

This is all amply demonstrated during bassist Terry Burrell’s Gerald Veasley-like electric bass turn on the samba “Brother B.” Sinnett’s onomatopoeic take on Moeller, Stone and Chapin-type technique-builders encourages the student to rely on their inner clock and not fall into “comfort zones,” instead making practice routines more musical and—dare I say it?—fun. His “Open Solo” in 6/8, with an A-A-B-A form, illuminates the importance of studying jazz harmony, history, composition, theory and “the work of many jazz drummers and musicians and their individual approaches,” including the elastic, flowing styles of Jack DeJohnette, Philly Joe Jones, Peter Erskine and Marvin “Smitty” Smith. When playing straight-8th-oriented tunes such as “Twist and Jarrett” with his McCoy Tyner-influenced pianist, Allen Farnham, the emphasis remains on a “clear understanding of the roles of the other instruments and great listening skills,” to improve comping and inspire spur-of-the-moment improvisation.

While acknowledging that “touch, nuances, phrasing and intentions are different” after Burrell switches to acoustic bass, and Sinnett himself adapts to a smaller drum set, his advice becomes practically invaluable, as in “if you can’t hear the other instruments, then you’re playing too loud.” Playing straightahead jazz requires even more knowledge of how chord progressions resolve and the use of turnarounds, substitutions and phrasing, as illustrated on Sinnett’s tribute to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” entitled “The Bear.” Because real jazz is “busier rhythmically and harmonically,” utilizing space as a sound with dynamic “highs and lows” enables the drummer to tell a story, with an intro, smart pacing into a dramatic climax, and a logical resolution.

Sinnett’s video is heady, conceptual stuff, and it’s highly recommended.

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