Over my many years as a professional drummer, a few artists had a game-changing effect on my playing. One was the late, great father of Afrofunk: Fela Kuti and his amazing drummer Tony “Oladip” Allen. Fela’s music and Tony’s drumming were hypnotic the first time I heard them play. It became a staple in my practice methods. I would often turn the heat up in my drum studio to 90 degrees or more in order to capture the vibe of playing at The Afrika Shrine in Nigeria in the ’70s: hot, muggy, and full of love. Songs like “Water No Get Enemy” and “Confusion” at a whopping 25 minutes long not only challenged my physical abilities to hold down the groove but more importantly the control over my mental space. It’s a meditation that when practiced properly can propel your physical drumming ability as well as your confidence when it comes to performing and improving.
The groove for this month is one that includes consistent, relaxed movement of all four limbs. By using all four limbs, your mind is allowed to drift towards what many runners would call the “runner’s high.” The secret is staying very relaxed.
In the video, I’m playing a gajate bracket and woodblock with my left foot. I highly recommend trying it. The different sound from your left foot helps grow your musicality and the creative communication from your brain to your left foot, which is by far the last thing most of use in a creative form. If you don’t have a woodblock, use your hi-hat, employing a basic heal/hat splash movement that when done on the woodblock or kick pedal creates a double. Remember, stay relaxed and focus on how you feel. Imagine you are lightly jogging and shaking your arms loosely. Let your mind flow.
Kent Aberle is a first-call drummer from Atlanta, Georgia currently performing and recording with a number of artists including The Swear, Darling Machine, R.AH. (Ross.Aberle.Hollifield), Michelle Malone, Kristian Bush, and others. He is the owner and engineer/producer of Here Be Dragons Recording in Atlanta. Kent has over 30 years of international touring experience including China, Japan, Australia, Canada, and others. Kent has performed on The Conan O’Brien Show, The Today Show, The Talk, Austin City Limits, and The Grand Ole Opry.