Groove Alchemy review at reviews Groove AlchemyBart Elliott reviews Stanton Moore’s “Groove Alchemy” Book and CD. Click here to check out the Groove Alchemy book review over at drummer cafe.


The Groove Alchemy Book/CD explores Stanton Moore’s approach to funk and other types of groove drumming; essentially a continuation of his first book, Take It To The Street.

The book starts out with a nice, in-depth introduction, Stanton’s biography, information about the supplemental audio disc, and how to practice with the book.

In the first section, The Roots of Funk, Stanton gives a brief history of James Brown’s drummers, Nat Kendrick, Clayton Fillyau, Melvin Parker, John “Jabo” Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, then takes a closer look at some of the rhythmic innovations these drummers all came up with. Basic grooves to“I’ve Got Money”, “Big Chief”, “Limbo Jimbo”, “Soul Food, Parts 1 & 2”, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”, “Out of Sight”, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, “I Got You”, “Jabo”, “Cold Sweat”, “I Got the Feelin'”, “Licking Stick — Licking Stick”, “Say It Loud — I’m Black And I’m Proud”, “Soul Pride, Parts 1 & 2”, “Mother Popcorn”, “Funky Drummer”, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine”, “Super Bad”, “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose”, “Talkin’ Loud And Sayin’ Nothing”, “Get Up, Get Into It And Get Involved”, “Soul Power, Parts 1 & 2”, “Make It Funky”, “Pass The Peas”, “I Know You Got Soul”, “Stoned To The Bone”, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”, “The Chicken”, “Think (About It)”, “Hot Pants — I’m Coming”, and “Make It Good To Yourself”. To close out this section, Stanton gives some insightful tips on how to practice “Funky Drummer”.

Section two focuses on the stylings of one of Stanton’s all-time favorite drummers, Zigaboo Modeliste, from the band The Meters. Grooves include “Cissy Strut”, “Groove Lady”, “Funky Miracle”, “Hey Pocky A-Way”, “Jungle Man”, “Fire On The Bayou”, “Live Wire”, “Look-Ka Py Py”, “Pungee”, “Little Old Money Maker”, “Oh, Calcutta!”, “Tippi-Toes”, “Hey! Last Minute”, “People Say”, “Just Kissed My Baby”, and“Africa”.

In section three, Playing In-Between The Cracks, Stanton explains how many of the grooves illustrated in the previous two sections, especially those beats played by Modeliste, Stubblefield and Starks, are not actually played as straight sixteenth-notes or triplets, but rather something in-between. He goes on to show this with the ‘Ratcliff beat’ and a number of grooves from Bill Withers hits.

Section four is the heart of the book, Getting Creative. Here Stanton shows how he takes these legendary grooves and makes them his own by first examining the original beat, then morphing, combining and varying the grooves. Good stuff!

Moore expands the funk drumming study by answering the question, “one or two hands on the Hi-Hat?”, and how he uses these two different approaches when coming up with new ideas and rhythms.

The next twenty pages cover grooves with an underlying clave or rhythmic structure; something seen in the New Orleans second line. Besides identifying the grooves from previous sections that use clave, Stanton gives even more funk drumming examples from players such as Mike Clark and David Garibaldi. Also in this section Stanton shares how he uses the rhythmic structures concept when approaching odd time signatures, such as 5/4 5/8 and 7/8.

Swing/Shuffles is the next section, where Stanton shares the importance of understanding swing and its subtle nuances. He starts with the quarter-note pulse and the ‘jazz ride pattern’, then goes back and shares some of the history as to where this Ride cymbal pattern originated. From there, it’s shuffles, starting from the basic two-handed pattern and morphing it into a variety of different grooves.

In the last section of the book, Moore discusses backbeats, that is the accented notes on beats 2 and 4 (in 4/4 or Common Time). He talks about the origin of the backbeat, how it evolved, placement (top/middle/back of the beat), ghost-notes and grace-notes … which Stanton groups together and refers to as ‘chatter notes’.

The supplemental CD included with the book contains audio examples, in MP3 format, for each of the grooves notated in the book, plus 4 play-along audio tracks; in all that’s 603 audio tracks in all. Rhythm charts for the 4 play-along tracks is included in the back of the book.

The historical value of Groove Alchemy Book/CD, with its accurate transcriptions and performance examples of some of the most important drum grooves in history, plus Stanton’s own approach to developing your own vocabulary of new funk grooves and patterns, makes Groove Alchemy Book/CDmust have for every serious student of drumming; beginner to professional. I highly recommend it; add it to your library today … the package is worth every penny.

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