Rich Thompson: How to Play Drums in a Big Band

Rich Thompson: How to Play Drums in a Big Band

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Improvisation is at the heart of jazz, but knowing how to play stylistically correct in a large jazz ensemble is also a necessity. How to Play Drums in a Big Band offers tips, suggestions, examples and a play along CD to help you put it all together.


The book features seven sample pieces - two jazz standards and five originals – covering a range of jazz styles from Basie and Latin to ECM and contemporary jazz (the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bob Brookmeyer, etc.):

Morning (Clare Fischer)                 Bossa Nova
Basie’s Blues (Jim Snidero)           Basie-style study
Burungkaka (trad.Indonesian arr. Dobbins)    
Strayhorn (Clare Fischer)              
A Doll
La Curandera Negrita
Rock On                                     Jazz-funk-rock


The book includes advice on how to read and interpret big band charts, how to correctly setup and tune your drums plus a list of do's and dont's to help you play in the big band style.


The accompanying CD includes two tracks per song. A listening version, where the volume level of the drums is raised slightly so that it can be easily heard, as well as a play-along version in which the drums are muted, ideal for use with you as soloist using headphones.


The CD was recorded at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York in 2003 by an 18-piece band conducted by Dave Rivello which included Rich Thompson (drums) and Bill Dobbins (piano).


Book/CD, 72 pages



Rich Thompson is an Associate Professor of jazz studies and contemporary media at the Eastman School of Music.