What are we learning?
In this episode of learning licks, we'll be breaking down the playing of Yussef Dayes during a live video of him and Alfa Mist improvising at Red Bull Studios. Yussef Dayes is the drummer for Yussef Kamaal and The Yussef Dayes Trio, as well as various other projects, such as this one with Alfa Mist. His frantic, drum and bass and breaks influenced drumming has made him a popular drummer in the UK jazz scene and this short clip will give you an idea of what he's all about!
What is he playing?
In this video, Yussef Dayes is playing a heavy, drum and bass influenced groove with almost constant 16th notes between the Hi-Hat (or ride) and snare drum. The bass drum pattern is fairly simple but drives the beat forward, allowing a lot of room for improvising with your hands. A unique thing about this pattern is that the snare accents fall on beats '3', '1+' and '4', instead of a usual '2' and '4' back beat, creating a displaced sound, reminiscent of jungle drum sampling. The majority of the variations are best played as single stroke rolls (RLRL) but it's the speed at which they are played that is the real challenge!
Things to watch out for!
The most important thing to make this beat really groove is the consistency of the fast 16th notes and the dynamics. It's all about playing ghost notes on the snare with your left hand to compliment the Hi-Hat and really letting those accents come through with a nice punchy sound. If this style of playing is new to you, I'd highly recommend starting with a simplified pattern in the same style- something like 'The Amen Break' would be a great place to start! It is also worth checking out some books such as 'The Breakbeat Bible' by Mike Adamo and 'Groove Alchemy' by Stanton Moor for a detailed break down and explanation of the rich history of break beat and drum and bass drumming.
When you're ready to go, have an experiment with this style of drumming in a jazz setting and see what you can come up with. Remember that what Yussef Dayes is playing here is completely improvised and he wouldn't play it exactly the same at the next gig- so with that in mind, use this as inspiration, but don't feel that you have to play it note for note (unless you want to!) Download the free drum transcription below and have some fun with it!
Transcription: Learning Licks- Yussef Dayes