Beat Breakdown #26 - Theon Cross - Activate

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be looking at the groove to the A section of London based Tuba player Theon Cross’s Activate. The drummer on the track is Moses Boyd, one of my favourite players on the UK jazz scene. If you dig the playing in this song, make sure to go and check out Learning Licks #6 on this blog to check out some more Moses Boyd notations!

Break it down.
I think of this groove as a call and response. The first bar (call) is a back beat groove with a syncopated hi hat pattern that repeats throughout the song and the second bar (response) continues the groove with a variation on the second half of each bar. One you have the main groove down, it’s just about learning each fill variation and then piecing it all together. All of the fills are based out of 16th notes and are mostly based off of singles or a KRLK linear lick. If this is new for you, just practice the KRLK pattern nice and slow and loop it until you have built the muscle memory to put it back into the groove!

One thing that took me a little while to get used to is that Moses Boyd has a super laid back feel, often playing right back behind the beat. For me, I tend to play right on the click or sometimes like to push ahead to really drive a groove forward, so it took some time to get used to locking in with Boyd’s flow. Pocket is something that everybody feels differently and playing behind, on and in front of the beat all have their place in music of all styles - as long as you’re feeling the groove and it sounds good then you are good to go!

Download the sheet music for free below:

Notation: Learning Licks #26 - Theon Cross - Activate

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