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Groove Alchemy Book reviewed at Mike

Groove Alchemy was recently reviewed over at

Click here to read the full Groove Alchemy review over at

The Review:

Groove Alchemy by Stanton Moore is a passionate investigation about the mystery and the magic generated by drum funk grooves in history. Stanton himself gives a great definition of groove

“A groove is often described as what happens when two or more people lock into each other and the music at hand in a way that transcends just playing the notes. A good groove can make a whole room full of people suddenly want to move.”(Page 7)

So if you analyze this definition the groove cannot be quantized or created in a laboratory. It is something that involves feelings and creativity.

So the question is: can you learn and practice the essence of groove? According to Stanton the answer is YES !!

He proves that if you follow his program you can learn from the roots of funk drumming in order then to create new grooves using your creativity.

Groove is alchemy and with Stanton”s microscope you can see, listen and practice in depth the great grooves of the James Brown drummers and in particular John ”Jabo” Starks and Clyde Stubblefield and the great Zigaboo Modeliste, drummer of the funk super group The Meters.

In the chapter “Playing in-between the cracks” Stanton explains very clearly the fact that most of the great funk grooves are not played as straight sixteen notes or triplet but rather something in between. This is an important aspect in order to gain control and to play with the right approach.

The next section, “Getting creative”, is probably the most important because it shows how to take the previous grooves and make them yours with simple but effective variations.

After many and useful examples Stanton demonstrates the role of the clave in the New Orleans second line and funk drumming literature again with useful demonstrations in 4/4 and odd time signatures.

The chapter “Swing/Shuffles” is all about swing grooves with a brief history of the ride cymbal pattern. Stanton explains that

“A lot of the drummers that we consider to be the greatest groove players-Earl Palmer, Zigaboo Modeliste, John Bonham, Steve Jordan, John Jabo Starks- grew up hearing jazz and music that swung. They were all raised on Big Band jazz, bebop, blues, rhythm and blues, early rock”n”roll-all music based on swing. To be able to really groove, I think it”s important to be able to swing. With swing, it”s not enough to just play the notes. You have to make the notes feel good and groove.”(Page 96)

The last chapter is about backbeats. Stanton again starts with a brief history and with his magic magnifier he highlights the importance of placement and chatter notes.

As a bonus at the end of the book the author included rhythm charts for the four play-along tracks performed by Stanton”s trio with Will Bernard on guitar and Robert Walter on Hammond organ.
The book comes with a CD with 603 mp3 audio tracks that includes all the examples notated plus the last four songs with and without drums.

Groove Alchemy is an enthusiastic, powerful project assembled by Stanton Moore not only for its historical value but mostly for a very creative approach that allows the student to improve groove and creativity.

It is a must have for every serious drummer.

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