Elvin Jones on Blues To Elvin
by Tim Lake
Full transcription of Elvin Jones's comping
Elvin Jones was a big inspiration to me when I got more seriously into jazz drumming. He still is, not least for what he contributed to Coltrane's classical quartet.
Elvin has a very distinctive way of playing that is quite unlike most other jazz drummers. Heavily triplet based and polyrhythmic, lithe and flowing around his kit.
One of the best places to start with learning jazz and learning jazz drums is "Coltrane Plays the Blues", not only because of Elvin's playing but also because of its introduction to that master key of jazz, the blues.
The album features a number of distinctive blues tunes at a variety of tempos.
The lead track is "Blues to Elvin". This is a great play-along track for getting to grips with the blues form, and it also opens a door for delving a little deeper into Elvin's playing. It is more accessible than some of the later music with Coltrane and provides plenty of ideas for the student of jazz drumming.
The PDF is a complete transcription of what Elvin plays. One of the most interesting and important features is how his comping develops and grows in intensity and density through the solos, pushing Coltrane to new heights.
There are a lot of ideas in this transcription that could be broken down further and developed to work into your own playing.
Bar 127, below, is a typical Elvin comping figure, playing the middle note on the first (and third) beat, and the upbeat (third note of the triplet) on the second (and fourth) beat. It's a figure that features a lot in this transcription.
The hardest part of the transcription is the first four bars of the last chorus, which sees Coltrane at his most intense. Bars 121 - 124/125 shown below. Be careful not to rush.
This was originally posted on "Jazz Drumming Blog" back in 2009. However, the text has been substantially changed.