NPR, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and public radio station WBGO have premiered a new episode of Jazz Nights in America, “More Than Keeping Time.” It’s a primer on the intricate art of jazz drumming, with composer and bandleader Allison Miller in the hot seat.
Over the episode’s five minutes, Miller presents a quick demonstration of ‘melodic drumming,’ or how jazz drummers work melody and rhythm into one cogent whole—while still keeping time. She uses the Duke Ellington standard “It Don’t Mean a Thing” as a reference point, extracting the piece’s main melodic line and transposing it, with pitches, onto her kit.
The episode isn’t so much of a masterclass as it is an ‘Explainer’-style introduction. So even if you don’t bang the drums, it’s worth the watch. Check it out here: