John Blackwell Technique, Grooving and Showmanship
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John Blackwell, world-class groove master and drummer with Prince, offers his approach to developing the amazing technique he has become know for, including key exercises that he used as a student, and still uses today, demonstrations with bassist Baron Browne, performances with his great band, Matrix, and more. Includes brilliant performance footage from the Modern Drummer Festival 2002 and studio footage that features Baron Browne. Segments include: Heroes and Influences, Practicing, Teachers, Building a Solo, Single-Hand Rolls, Single-Pedal Technique, Building a Groove, Shuffles and a detailed demonstration of his incredible Stick Twirling Technique. Included is footage of John s entire performance at Modern Drummer Festival 2002 with Matrix.
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Among the "secrets" I learned was how to do single-handed drum rolls. I've carefully studied Buddy Rich for years and could never come close to his single-hand roll technique. However, Blackwell shows how to do it is a straightforward manner. In less than two days of practice I have it down. That alone is worth many times the price of this DVD, but there is more. If you've ever heard Blackwell play you'd swear that he is using a double bass pedal. Not so - his amazing bass pedal work is single pedal, and he shows how to achieve the same speed and bass groove in the same straighforward manner as he did with the single-handed rolls. It comes down to doing coordination exercises with your sticks and fitting in the bass patterns. Simple on the surface, but extremely effective.
Throughout this video I learned one technique after another. Blackwell does not jealously guard his secrets - indeed, he is effusive in giving credit to his many influences - and he comes across as sincerely interested in sharing them. He is also a font of knowledge when it comes to the history of great drummers and, in one fascinating discussion connects the dots of influences back to Baby Dodds. Another thing I enjoyed (and learned from) is his ability to recreate the style of drummers who influenced him, then combine those styles into composite solos.
Like those who came before him, Blackwell - thanks to this video - has a profound influence on my own playing. I mentioned earlier that his and my styles diverge, but the techniques he imparted have been incorporated into my own playing, and if anyone asks me who my major influences were Blackwell will be on the short list.
If you want to take your skills to the lext level get this DVD and practice (and practice some more!) I also recommend getting a copy of Tommy Igoe's "Groove Essentials" (ASIN B00064YTKM), which will augment Blackwell's techniques and expand your range and technique even more.