The Story of the Brush Sessions DVD


The Story of the Brush Sessions DVD

Adam Nussbaum had come up with a fantastic idea for an educational DVD and explained it to me one day in mid-2006. Since all drummers have their own distinctive way of playing with brushes, it would be fascinating to film a number of drummers playing brushes to the same tempos and feels. This way we’ll have a direct comparison of how different players approach the same tunes. I presented this fresh idea to Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis of Hudson Music; they loved the concept and wanted to go ahead with the project. Since they have so many projects currently in the works they asked me to get involved as a co-producer and work with Adam to develop the idea into a full-blown production.

The first thing Adam and I did was to determine which tempos we would focus on. We got together a number of times at The Drummers Collective in New York City with brushes, two snare drums, our iPods full of tunes and a metronome. We tried to determine what would be the most interesting feels and tempos to address where the players would possibly use a different technique or have to change their moves, that way we would see the greatest variety of approaches.

We zeroed in on a number of different feels and tempos incorporating 4/4 swing, ballads, 3/4 time and latin. Since we wanted all the drummers to play along to the same tracks, we enlisted jazz veterans, guitarist Vic Juris and bassist Jay Anderson, to record the tracks. We spent a day at Jay Anderson’s upstate NY studio where we recorded 17 tracks. We would use 7 different tracks for the DVD but we made sure we had enough tempos for a state-of-the-art, 17 track, “play-along” CD to include with the final package.

Adam, Rob, Paul and myself worked on a list of “brush masters” that we wanted to see perform on the DVD. Adam made the calls and over a period of months we confirmed five incredible drummers: Charli Persip (Dizzy Gillespie/Billy Eckstine), Billy Hart (Herbie Hancock/Stan Getz), Ben Riley, (Thelonious Monk/Ron Carter), Eddie Locke, (Roy Eldridge/Coleman Hawkins), and Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck/Marian McPartland).

Adam and I then developed our ideas for the filming over a series of emails and meetings. We performed and videotaped a brushes clinic at The Drummers Collective on January 27, 2007 to clarify our approach. Meanwhile Rob and Paul where checking out studios and assembling a team to record and film the DVD. It was determined that we would film at Bennett Studios (owned by Tony Bennett) in Englewood, NJ on February 4-6, 2007.

The three days that we spent in the studio were life changing for me. It was enlightening to see how the different drummers played the same tunes with such vastly diverse approaches and techniques. Each one of the players sounded superb, they all swung hard and played with extraordinary musicality.

Adam and I interviewed the players about their concepts, techniques, musical influences and experiences. To hear them talk about music was one revelation after another -- these drummers are as articulate as they are wise. We have over one hour of documentation from each drummer, including Adam and myself, plus we have 30 hours of behind the scenes, “fly on the wall,” footage of some funny and revealing anecdotes with the drummers hanging out and trading stories.

What remains is the gargantuan task of viewing the footage, taking notes and organizing an edit of all of this valuable information. I’m confident that this DVD will be a vital resource for all drummers, which will never go out of style; the information is timeless and priceless. We’ll also be including bonus material in the form of historical footage, essays, listening lists, a “play-along” CD and more.

Steve Smith