Vinnie Colaiuta’s All Time Best Drum Solo

On November 9, 2014, in Vinnie Colaiuta, by feldiefeld

I know I will get grief about this. And I welcome the debate because what it means is that I (and therefore you) will find out about more great Vinnie solos that rival this one. I have loved this particular solo since I first saw it, which was about 25 years ago. I even have a lot of it transcribed…in various notebooks lying around the apartment. So, readers, if you are interested, let me know and I can try to pull the pieces together and post a transcription.

Here it is….Vinnie Colaiuta at Zildjian Day in New York from 1984. This is the first solo …..not the odd time solo he takes later in the performance. My favorite part begins at 2:32 and ends at 3:13. It’s 45 seconds of pure blistering madness Vinnie style. You’re going to love this. YouTube Preview Image

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The rhythm created by playing every third sixteenth note is one of my favorites. I’ve used it a lot in fills and soloing vocabulary. I think that I initially got the idea for applying this to a cymbal pattern in grooves from something (surprise!) I heard Vinnie Colaiuta play. I know, shocking.

The only way to get something like this together is to create some exercises, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. So, here it is, the beginning of a series that will seek to give us freedom with this idea as it is applied to grooves. I have not, by any means, mastered these exercises as of this writing, but early indications are that this is going to sound amazing.

The first step is to take the simplest eighth note rock beats–the first beats we all learned–and try to layer this new cymbal pattern on top.


In 4/4 time, the dotted eighth note pattern will resolve after three measures, so the exercises are all three measures long and repeat. Although these are the most basic of all rock beats, you may find that the layer of dotted eighths on top will give these beats a new life. There is a brand new texture on top which I think, as I work through these, is going to sound very cool.

As a summary and to build some real control, the final exercise (6) includes a four measure bass drum and snare pattern that repeats until the cymbal pattern on top resolves. The underlying four measure snare/bass drum phrase is similar to the type of rock beat you might encounter in a real playing situation. But, to gain real freedom playing these ideas while maintaining our new cymbal idea, you need to be able to play it while rotating through the entire system of the cymbal pattern. Tricky and fun.

Here is the PDF: dotted eighth independence one

Very different. Lots of fun. Have at it.

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“Indian Time Zones” appears on Warren Cuccurullo’s 1996 album, “Thanks To Frank.” The tune is in 5/4 and Vinnie Colaiuta takes an eight bar drum solo on the track. My favorite part of the solo is the 2nd half. A transcription of those last four bars is presented here.

The 2nd half of the solo is where Vinnie really blasts off–machine gunning us with a bunch of mostly 32nd note ideas.
I’ve included a one beat pick up (the last quarter note of the fourth bar) on the transcription to maintain the flow of ideas. Where the sticking is difficult, I’ve included my suggested sticking.

Here is the PDF: Indian Time Zones 2nd Half

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Yesterday I revisited a cymbal pattern that I like. Below, the notation, with the left foot playing the hi-hat on quarter notes and the ride cymbal notated above that with the right hand:

the 1eand 2eand pattern illustration

I think I first heard this cymbal rhythm as played on the hi-hat by Narada Michael Walden on “Come Dancing,” a track from the Jeff Beck album, “Wired.” If you listen to the introductory drum groove that Walden plays at the top of the song you’ll hear it.

Inspiration for the grooves came initially from Vinnie Colaiuta’s last solo on “Ben Casey,” from the Randy Waldman album “Unreel.” If you check out that track, you’ll hear VC playing the pattern as notated above at the beginning of the solo.

Here is groove 1, loosely based on some ideas I heard Vinnie play in that solo:

the 1eand 2eand groove 1 illustration

The second groove also contains some Colaiuta phrases but has a little taste of Gadd’s Samba phrasing as well. I’ve never heard Steve use the cymbal pattern as notated, but I think the groove (it is definitely more of a solo type of groove) sounds interesting and may give some of you an independence work out as well. Here it is:

the 1eand 2eand groove 2 illustration

Finally, here is the PDF for you to print out and take to the practice room: Fusion Grooves

Have at it…I am working on this too.

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Vinnie Colaiuta Playing Heuer Drums

On March 11, 2014, in Vinnie Colaiuta, by feldiefeld

VinnieThere’s been much speculation about Mr. Colaiuta’s gear since his short-lived association with Ludwig Drums. The drum geeks of the world were looking to see what Vinnie would be playing when he went on the road with Sting this year. The wait is over. The answer is Heuer.

You can read about Chris Heuer’s drums at his website:

Although this may come as a bit of a surprise to many, Chris has gained a reputation for doing top-notch restoration, customization and repair work for many of Los Angeles’ top drummers for a while now. Apparently, he builds custom drums too. Good ones. Really good ones.

A quick look at Vinnie’s website shows that the empty grey space next to the Paiste logo on the “links” page has been replaced with the Heuer logo. Check it:

In addition, check out the photo, above, of VC playing Heuers on the Sting tour.

It looks like Heuer’s business is about to take off.

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Vinnie Colaiuta Leaves Ludwig

On October 23, 2013, in Vinnie Colaiuta, by feldiefeld

vinnie_bannerIt has been a little over a year since Ludwig announced that Vinnie Colaiuta was an official Ludwig artist. I remember when the rumors began that Vinnie was leaving Gretsch and Zildjian. At the time, a quick look at his website revealed that the links to those companies had been replaced with links to Ludwig and Paiste.

Well, guess what?

The Ludwig logo on Mr. C’s website is now absent. In it’s place? A grey box. And to the right of that grey nothingness where the Ludwig logo used to be is the Paiste logo….still firmly in place.

There has been no official word on Colaiuta leaving Ludwig as being a stone cold fact; and I was tipped off to it by a posting on the Vic’s Drum Shop blog. But based on the evidence apparent on Vinnie’s own site, it appears to be highly likely that Ludwig and Vinnie are no more.

A quick look at the Ludwig website shows no Vinnie on their list of artists, either….hmmmm.

Let’s see what happens next.

I know, it’s gossip. But we’re not talking trash about anyone….just watching interesting things happen in the industry we love, with the drummer we all love.

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The notion of Pattern Control on drum set means that you take a pattern you are interested in exploring and then manipulate it through different metrics and over various numbers of measures so you can see how it plays out. The point is for you to find ways to use it that make sense.

I’ve found this idea very useful to my playing and I’m continuing to explore it.
Pattern Control RLF as 32nds
You can find other examples of my explorations of this topic by checking out the Blog Category, “Pattern Control for Drumset.”

This time, we explore the pattern “RLF” (right hand, left hand, bass drum) as it applies to 32nd notes. The worksheet assumes that you play the right hand on the floor tom and the left hand on the high tom, but that is just because I find that as the most powerful and useful way to play the pattern most of the time. I also like to move my hands to the snare drum sometimes to get different accents or play back beats.

Note that there is a hi-hat notated for the left foot on all the quarter notes. This is a skill that is helpful to have developed, but it is not always necessary to play the pattern that way. Consider it as an option for you to have under control if needed.

I’m using this worksheet myself to explore some soloing ideas and I am finding it very useful for figuring this stuff out. This pattern is very powerful and it is not often heard as 32nd notes, although I’ve heard Vinnie Colaiuta use it this way (of course!)

Get thee to the practice room and work on this if you need something new and exciting in your drumming life.

Here’s the PDF: Pattern Control RLF as 32nds

Nasty Groove 1

On February 17, 2013, in Linear Grooves, Nasty Grooves, by feldiefeld

Nasty Groove 1This marks the beginning of a new series: Nasty Grooves.

“Nasty Groove #1″ is a linear funk beat, inspired by the likes of Dennis Chambers, David Garibaldi, Vinnie Colaiuta and Mike Clark.

It’s a very funky beat…make sure that the ghosted notes are very quiet…that is one of the keys to making these types of grooves sound great.

Here’s the PDF: Nasty Groove 1.

Have at it. Below are two videos: the first is me playing the groove at a “normal” tempo, followed by a very slooooowww version.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

This week I’ve been practicing, as I have been for months now, heel-down doubles with the bass drum. It’s been driving me crazy. But, I’m on the right track. The Perfect Balance Pedal has helped a lot.

Sometimes, when I’m working on some technical skill like this, I need some way to keep things fresh. So, I came up with this.

It comes from an idea that I heard Vinnie Colaiuta play on the track “Ben Casey” from the “Unreel” album by Randy Waldman. It’s during the solo, and it is very fast, but Vinnie plays this combination at the peak of the solo.

I just took the pattern he plays between the snare and bass drum, subtracted the ride notes he played, and added the jazz ride cymbal pattern on top for this exercise. Try it.

Here’s the PDF: a triplet independence exercise

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Nasty Lick 44: Yuda Variation 1

On August 1, 2012, in Nasty Licks, Vinnie Colaiuta, by feldiefeld

Inspired by the Vinnie lick that I blogged about last time (#43), I was messing around in the practice room and I came up with a new variation that I would like to share with you. It sounds great, is easy to play…..those are all the hallmarks of a great lick. I hope you like it.

Here’s the PDF if you need it: Nasty Lick 44

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