BY JOE SMYTH | FROM THE FALL 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!
Here we have a group of grooves that are often called “mambo rock.” Mambo rock is less about traditional mambo and more about straight eighth-note rock rhythms. The connection point is that the left hand plays the conga “slap” of the tumbao rhythm on snare on beat 2, and the 4 & open conga sound of the tumbao on a tom (Ex. 1).
In Ex. 2, you can move the tom part to other drums to create more interest.
Playing rim-clicks rather than the snare (Ex. 3) gives a different intensity to the groove.
In Ex. 4, swap the positions of the snare and tom parts for more of a “surf beat” feel.
By varying the bass drum part, you can explore the possibilities for this groove. Ex. 5 is a groove I use for a “trop rock” feel.
In Ex. 6, try varying the right-hand cymbal part to change the groove.
Experiment with right hand sounds with all these examples: ride cymbal, cymbal bell, cowbell, or even rim of the floor tom. Add the mambo rock groove to your toolbox and see where it takes you.
JOE SMYTH is a founding member of the award-winning Sawyer Brown band, touring the world for the past 37 years. He also teaches drums and percussion at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.