DVD Reviews July 2012
DVD Reviews July 2012
Florian Alexandru-Zorn – The Brush Secret
Alfred Music brings us this double DVD set from Florian Alexandru-Zorn which explores “the secret of playing brushes” and gives the student drummer the tools to apply his/her own voice through this often overlooked technique.
Florian Alexandru-Zorn (whose book/DVD combo ‘The Complete Guide to Playing Brushes’, was reviewed last month here; http://www.mikedolbear.com/story.asp?StoryID=3166) is fast becoming a worldwide authority on brush technique. Through his clinics, books and now double DVD he is changing the perception and application of brush playing and enlightening a new generation of drummers.
The Brush Secret cover bears an uncanny and no doubt intentional likeness to the best-selling self-help book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. This is an intriguing marketing ploy and certainly caught my eye when I first saw it. The DVD content itself is set in a gloomy stone laden environment and the scene changes are accompanied by brooding neo-classical score. Thankfully this does not distract too much from the educational content but certainly does not complement it.
What is most evident from the outset is the masterful skill Florian Alexandru-Zorn exhibits in his brush technique. The clarity he achieves in the various example strokes and motions provides a clear benchmark for the student drummer to aim for.
After a brief introduction, the section ‘Sweeping Concepts & Sounds’ contains the main foundations of brush playing with detailed examples of all motions and rhythms from full circular quarter notes through to linear triplet eighth notes. The following section, ‘Developing Your Own Voice to The Brushes’ is where this DVD really shines. This section explores styles from 7/8 swing to reggae and everything in between. You will find ideas and concepts in this section that will completely redefine your view of brush application. Each sub section contains groove examples and a play along performance. This section alone is over an hour and its detailed examination of styles and genres are worth the price of the double DVD. The consequent section on Percussion Adaptations is a brief section extending the stylistic examples into Afro-Cuban rhythms. This is done by taking inspiration from popular conga, bongo, pandiero and tambourin patterns and applying them to the drum kit.
The second DVD contains interviews and contributions from major figures in the drumming and education community such as Mike Johnston, Stanton Moore and Benny Greb. These interviews are interesting and informal and give us some insight into the role of brush technique in the professional drummer’s career. I was glad to see a section on ‘Sweeping the Rudiments’ which was an element in Florian Alexandru-Zorn’s book reviewed last month that I highlighted as being highly successful and innovative. The additional content on recording brushes and using the right equipment covers the practicalities and rounds off the DVD content well.
There is no stone left unturned in Florian Alexandru-Zorn’s examination of brush playing and its wide application in this expansive DVD. With over 9 hours footage this double DVD is a successful and engrossing course in brush playing that will massively expand your musical creativity and voice. A must have for the well rounded drummer.
Ken Scott – Epik Drums EDU
Ken Scott is a seminal figure in the history of the British recording industry. As an engineer he helped sculpt the sound of the Beatles before working with Elton John, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck etc. In his role a producer he is noted for his work with David Bowie, Supertramp and Level 42. Having worked with this remarkable roster of artists it is safe to say Ken Scott has recorded and produced some of the best drummers in the world. It is this unique and learned knowledge of the recording process and philosophy that Ken Scott sets forth in this fantastic DVD package ‘Epik Drums EDU’.
The skill set drummers must possess to maintain a successful career has constantly evolved since the beginning of recorded music. Many drummers see the changing demands during their lifetimes and must learn and grow alongside this evolution.
Changes in the music industry itself have largely dictated this development and one recent element is the popularity and ubiquity of ‘home studios’. The recent feature on mikedolbear.com ‘21st Century Drummer’ shines light on this very issue (in Part 3 of this feature we learn from British session great Ralph Salmins
Epik Drums EDU is the culmination of a journey Ken Scott has undertaken to, as thoroughly as possible, reproduce the drum sound he achieved on various records over his 48 year career in the recording industry. Drummers Billy Cobham, Terry Bozzio, Rod Morgenstein, Bob Siebenberg and Woody Woodmansey have rejoined their old producer in search of this sound. The introduction describes briefly the process that took them through various studios, acoustic spaces, masses of vintage gear including kits, mics, desks etc all in order to reproduce that specific and sometimes elusive sound.
Personally I find the journey detailed in this DVD fascinating. For example, Billy Cobham is trying to reproduce the sound he previously achieved on a record 30 or so years ago. For Billy this requires a fundamental redesign of a system he has used since 1987 which is the non sequential tom tuning, he must go back to classical approach in his playing before Ken Scott can even search for that recording sound.
This DVD package does not only contain the documentary style footage narrated by Ken Scott but it also contains video lessons on recording and mixing, a unique insight into the comparison of analogue and digital recording and two free sessions from the Epik Drums virtual instrument/plug in. These sessions contain various stems including fully mixed sessions with all the mixing information viewable and editable within your DAW software (ProTools, Logic, Cubase etc.)
Whether this is your first insight into the art of recording drums or you are well versed in recording techniques and practices, this double DVD set is a must have for the 21st century drummer.
Alfred Music Publishing
Narada Michael Walden – Out of Time
The prolific American producer, singer and drummer Narada Michael Walden brings us his first drum DVD, ‘Out of Time’. Through his writing and producing collaborations Narada Michael Walden has won an Emmy award and three Grammy awards. Having worked with Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Al Jarreau and performed on stage with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the legendary Jeff Beck, Narada Michael Walden is an accomplished figure in the music industry and deservedly so. In this DVD we get an insight into the various stylistic and technical elements of Narada Michael’s playing with a combination of instructional and interview style footage.
The DVD content brings us organically through the accompanying performance with Narada and his band allowing a natural flow which few instructional DVDs share. This through composed order creates a certain lack of focus in the DVD’s educational aim but does allow a more personal insight into the mind and creativity of Narada Michael Walden.
Chapter titles include Dynamics, Locking into Bass and Lead Kick. These sections consist of roughly 2-3 minutes each and consequently barely scratch the surface of the subject. It is important to note that these sections, Dynamics for example, are not designed to educate the audience on the broad subject but specifically to provide insight into the relevance of these concepts to the drumming of Narada Michael Walden. This at first might narrow the appeal of this DVD within the drumming community but it gives us a rarely seen personal depth and lets Narada Michael Walden show his eccentric charm and powerful unique playing.
Taking example from Billy Cobham to Elvin Jones and discussing the importance of control, Walden’s broad understanding is evident throughout this DVD. Despite the lack of clear instructional content the audience can learn a lot by just listening as Narada Michael imparts his knowledge and experience.
Although there is an emphasis on odd metre drumming within the discourse of this DVD, I would not describe this as an instructional DVD. This is on the other hand is a window into the drumming passions of Narada Michael Walden and through his enthusiasm and eccentricity you might find yourself more motivated to practice than having watched a straight forward instructional DVD.
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