I remember discovering Alex Cohen’s work a couple of years back as I was entering this mad phase of coordination practice. I thought I had achieved some higher level of coordination after months of intense practice and then I realised after checking some of Alex’s solos that… I really was nowhere! For the ones of you still unfamiliar with this New Yorker, he has been making some fuss online over the past few years with his unique style of drumming and his insane coordination exercises.
The Ultimate Progressive Drumming is a title that describes perfectly the madness that you will find within these 60 or so pages of Alex’s work. The book starts gently with some eye opening exercises on how to rethink coordination and voicing as a whole. As we go on through the chapters, Alex takes us on this technical crescendo featuring “out of the box” challenges that any normal brain would probably never think of but somehow turn out to sound very musical played in the right context. Finally, this book ends in a big soloing fireworks mixing all of the newly acquired skills throughout these six chapters.
Despite the fact that this book is rather thin (only just over 60 pages), do not be mistaken, it will definitely take you a while to go through the insane amount of work is contains! I really like the easy notation and spaced out layout of the book which makes those exercises maybe more accessible to many drummers, without mentioning the online videos that can help us through some of the later chapters.
Finally, the unexpected feature of this work is that, despite that Alex’s main influences are highly technical proggy drummers, these exercises can help players in any genre (set aside the exercises featuring double pedals). I would however not advise this book to unexperienced drummers as most exercises require a certain independence already. If you are looking for a new challenge for your 2021 practice sessions though, this book is definitely for you!