POWERFX The Samplist Guide to Jazz Drums

Drummer Ralph Peterson provides a wealth of musical and historical information about jazz styles in his sound library The Samplist Guide to Jazz Drums, published by PowerFX. The collection is a CD-ROM of jazz-based loops and grooves in the WAV format, which includes video footage of the author demonstrating the rhythms visually.
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Morethan just a collection of samples, The Samplist Guide to JazzDrums offers a historical look at some of the great drummers andbands in jazz.

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The PowerFX Samplist Guide to Jazz Drums ($49) is acollection of beats, patterns, and samples played by jazz drummer RalphPeterson and produced by Bil Bryant. The CD-ROM contains nearly 450 MBof 16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV files, as well as video interviews (in WindowsMedia Player format) of Peterson demonstrating his extensive knowledgeof jazz drumming.

The collection is organized into five main folders according tostyle. Each folder contains samples or subfolders of samples and avideo of Peterson demonstrating how the jazz greats played the enclosedpatterns. Most of the phrases are two measures long for easy editingand looping. A sixth folder, Tools, contains individual samples ofdrums, fills, solos, cymbals, and cymbal combinations.

All That Jazz

The stylistic categories on the CD-ROM are Afro-Cuban-Latin, Bop,Brushes, Funky, and Old School. In each category, Peterson playspatterns that are based either on specific songs or on the playing ofdrummers known for a particular style. Conveniently, the names of thesamples include the musical style or drummer as well as the bpm.

The Old School category takes you from New Orleans, the birthplaceof jazz, to the unmistakable tom-based playing of Gene Krupa on“Sing, Sing, Sing.” Peterson includes examples of variousMardi Gras — Indian and second-line beats, and he captures thehi-hat feel of Count Basie's drummer, Papa Jo Jones.

The Afro-Cuban-Latin folder holds five subfolders: Bomba, Bossanova,Calypso, Mambo/Rumba, and Samba. Peterson plays the Latin-based rhythmsmade famous in the early '50s by Dizzy Gillespie's percussionist, ChanoPozzo, and later by John Coltrane's drummer, Elvin Jones. Jazz legendBilly Higgins, who played the bossa nova with brushes and a stick onhis snare rim, is also represented. The styles of Art Blakey, MaxRoach, Tony Williams, and Jimmy Cobb help make the Bop folder a Who'sWho of jazz drummers.

Funky is the least explored of the five drum styles, but Petersondoes capture the syncopated feel of virtuoso drummers Steve Gadd andHarvey Mason. Brushes play a major role in jazz, and in the Brushesfolder, Peterson shows his mastery of many feels, from fast bop toswing and ballads.

Making History

The Samplist Guide to Jazz Drums is as much a history lessonas it is a treasure trove of samples. Peterson is well qualified toshare his extensive knowledge of jazz drumming; he studied the subjectat Rutgers University, played with Art Blakey, and worked with BranfordMarsalis, the Count Basie Orchestra, and Stanley Turrentine.

The CD-ROM is well recorded and captures a soft, old-style sound.Although Peterson's kit is close-miked as well as room-miked, thebalance creates an appropriately open and live sound. Every nuance ofeach instrument is present across the stereo spectrum, from the ringingof the toms to the rich sustain of the ride cymbal.

The Samplist Guide to Jazz Drums is worth investigating forits historical value alone. The information presented in the linernotes, videos, and recordings gives a true feeling of what jazz is allabout. If you are looking for samples of authentic and well-played jazzdrumming, this CD-ROM is an excellent choice.

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4.5

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