Get Your Groove On: Exploring Some Essentials of Jazz Funk Drumming

Apr 19 / Von Baron
If you're a fan of groovy, Funk beats and cool Jazz rhythms, then you'll enjoy learning Jazz Funk drumming.  Jazz Funk is a style of drumming that combines the improvisation and sophistication of Jazz with Funk's rhythmic and harmonic elements.

In Jazz Funk, the drummer is the backbone of the music, providing the essential groove and creating a musical dialogue with the other instruments. In this article, we'll explore the essential elements of Jazz Funk drumming and how you can start learning it today!

The Parts of the Jazz Funk Groove

Jazz Funk is all about the groove. Groove, is the underlying rhythmic pattern that drives the music forward and gets people moving.

In Jazz Funk, the groove is typically based on a combination of Funk's syncopated rhythms and Jazz's swung feel. The drummer plays this groove using ghosted and accented snare drum notes and syncopated hi-hat and bass drum patterns.

Ghost notes are notes played very softly on the snare drum, typically between the main counts of a drum beat. They add dynamic depth and texture to the groove and help create a sense of forward motion.

Syncopated bass drum means playing the bass drum on offbeats and between the main counts. For example in counting with 16th notes, not always playing the bass drum on counts 1, 2, 3 or 4.  Instead playing on the "e's," "and's" and "a's" of the beats. 

If you don't completely understand what this means don't worry. I explain it all in detail in my Intro To Jazz Drumming Course. This syncopated technique adds to the overall funkiness of the groove.

With the hi-hat, we play a variety of patterns both opening and closing to hi-hat cymbals to add accents and texture to our grooves.

We can also play grooves on the ride cymbal which adds more sound color choices to our playing. 

Creating a Musical Dialogue with Other Instruments

In regular Funk drumming, there's not too much opportunity to play your limbs in a way that constantly changes in response to the other musicians' playing.  Our primary job is to lock down the groove.

In Jazz Funk drumming however, we also plays a crucial role in creating a musical dialogue with other instruments.  We need to listen carefully to what the other musicians are playing and respond with complementary rhythms and accents.

For example, if the bass player is playing a super funky bass line, we might add more syncopated bass drum patterns to imitate or accentuate the bass player's groove. 

If the guitar player is grooving on a nice chord progression, we can add a variety of hi-hat and cymbal colors and textures to accentuate the chords and harmonic movement.

Developing Your Jazz Funk Drumming Skills

A good place to start in developing your Jazz Funk drumming skills is by listening to and studying the music of Jazz Funk drumming pioneers, like Bernard Purdie, Clyde Stubblefield, and Chris Dave.

These drummers are known for their innovative groove playing. Check out any of their recordings and you'll get a bigger picture of this drumming style.  It's also good to practice along with their recordings. Try and play their grooves and match their drumming feel. 

Get the foundations and feel of Jazz Funk drumming in my Jazz Funk Drumming Course here at Jazz Drum School.
Ready to Groove? Join My Jazz Funk Drumming Course and Unlock Your Inner Rhythm!
Here's an example of this drumming style from one of my gigs here in Japan.
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Jazz Funk drumming is a super cool style of drumming that blends Jazz and Funk into a swinging and funky feel. Learning Jazz Funk drumming gives you another tool for your Jazz drumming tool kit. We use this style a lot on Jazz gigs too so I think it's essential for every Jazz drummer to know it.

We've covered the parts of a Jazz Funk groove, musical dialogue and how to develop your Jazz Funk drumming skills.  Now you're ready to take a step further and really learn this stuff.  I'll see you in my Jazz Funk Drumming course! Keep swinging in my friend! 
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