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THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
became a successful MGM studio drummer in California, was one of New Orleans' foremost early percussion artists, and that a musician known simply as "Battleaxe," who played with Jim Europe's Army band in World War I, was among the first Negro jazz drummers. In the East there was no shortage of percussive excitement: Willie The Lion Smith singles out for tribute Arthur "Traps" Mclntyre. "That guy was so fast, the only drummer today who could come near holding a candle to him would be Jo Jones," roars The Lion.
The sound of jazz has changed with the decades not only in the nature of the music, but in the rapid evolution of its physical raw materials. A comparison between the early percussionist and the highly skilled and well accoutered percussionist of today must take into account not only the extent of the latter's studies and their application to an advanced technique but also the immeasurable advance in the quality and quantity of his equipment.
George Wettling points out that much of the early drummer's kit was used more for novelty and comedy effects than for real integration into the performance: "The torn toms originally were all Chinese and made of thick pigskin; they featured painted dragons and all kinds of art work, and no two were alike. They were there as much to be seen as heard. And those corny temple blocks—they had sets of those, of different pitch, used for tonal effects. Vic Berton deserves a lot of credit for making the drummer's job easier and more varied. I think he started the foot-cymbals back around 1925, and way back around that same time he was using a pair of tuned tympani with an octave range— from low F to B Flat and from B Flat up to F."
New timbres were at the drummer s disposal constantly during the next decade. The crude Chinese cymbal gave way to the sonorous, majestic Zildjian. Originally made in Turkey and now the product of XJ.S.-domiciled Turks, their diameter may be as much as 22 inches. The insistent tone of the Zildjian has assumed an increasingly important part in contributing to the beat of the rhythm section. The foot-cymbal gave way, soon after 1930, to the "high hat cymbal," two cymbals facing each other and made to meet through pedal control.
Wetrling credits Warren "Baby" Dodds, whom he heard in