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Drumeo: The Jazz Drummer’s Best Friend

How Drumeo and jazz drumming make the perfect match

Larnell Lewis (left) and Greyson Nekrutman
Larnell Lewis (left) and Greyson Nekrutman

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When he titled his 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman probably didn’t expect that shape to be a familiar one. Nor did he expect it to wear bow ties, be 19 years old, and match Art Blakey and Buddy Rich note for note with ease.

But for today’s jazz drummers, that’s what—or who—the shape of jazz to come is: Greyson Nekrutman. Exploding on YouTube in 2021 with a cover of the final sweat-drenched solo from the movie Whiplash—a cover that now has 4.8 million views—Nekrutman has since become the Big Band Drumming coach on Drumeo.

And being what some have called the future of jazz drumming, he’s perfect for the job. Because like Drumeo, he’s exciting and bringing something new to jazz. With his 13-minute “Caravan” performance, he’s showing us the timelessness of big-band and demonstrating that this bygone era isn’t really gone. And with his breaking down of five “impossible Buddy Rich licks,” he’s demystifying jazz and showing us that Buddy was mortal after all.

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Aside from Nekrutman’s insight into solos, grooves, and showmanship—all of which he highlights in his 12-part course—Drumeo subscribers get a level of accessibility that jazz education has never seen before. The coaching roster alone is worth a second and third glance. Past names have included Billy Cobham, Antonio Sánchez, and Peter Erskine, and the 2022 lineup includes Larnell Lewis, Cindy Blackman Santana, and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Instead of learning jazz as a single thing—an at-times intimidating and ill-defined thing—drummers learn it from A-listers who break it down into subgenres and relevant topics. This makes it more approachable and, dare we say it, definable. It gives drummers of all levels a structure, a clear and frustration-free view of what to practice and why.

Take Nekrutman’s lesson titled “Chart Interpretation,” for example. First, he walks students through what to look for first in a chart: hits, time signatures, what he might do here, what he might do there. Then he plays it straight through as students follow along. And at the end, he assigns downloadable charts—among them “Caravan” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia”—for students to listen and play along to. (Of course, that’s in addition to the over three thousand other songs available on the platform.)

Students find this same step-by-step structure and clarity across entire courses. From Steve Lyman’s “Jazz Independence” to Rob Brown’s “Improving Your Jazz Flow” and Billy Cobham’s “Internal Synchronization” to Peter Erskine’s “Creative Practicing,” students get courses with easy-to-follow, easy-to-apply concepts that no jazz drummer should go without.

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Then there are coaches, such as Grammy Award-winning artist Larnell Lewis, who have taught multiple courses. Lewis, who began with Drumeo in 2014 and went viral in 2021 when he listened to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” for the first time and played it flawlessly on the first pass, has taught three courses. He’s also currently teaching lessons on soloing.

Yet as fun, conversational, and engaging as Lewis’ teaching style is, it’s the exact style that students have come to know and expect from all Drumeo coaches. On top of the engagement and consistency that has brought Drumeo multiple educational awards from Modern Drummer and DRUM! Magazine, its coaches provide personalized feedback on students’ playing.

This interaction, combined with forums and regular live events, creates a sense of community and a shared learning experience among the students and teachers. And who better to appreciate a lively group dynamic than jazz musicians?

In no other online space can jazz drummers directly access the industry’s biggest names while also accessing the resources to make it in that industry. Drumeo is the jazz drummer’s best friend—and what a perfect match it is.

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