Musicality, phrasing, developing ideas, and improvisation are all important when it comes to playing jazz. Once you feel comfortable with the basic left hand independence chops from our previous lessons, you are ready to take the next step by creating small phrases. In this lesson we look at creating and developing ideas within four-bar phrases.

In this series we have looked at downbeats, upbeats, and the second and third partials of the triplet under the jazz ride pattern, thus will limit our ideas to these three.



Triplet Partials


In Ex. 1, the idea of one downbeat, one upbeat is played in bar 2 and then developed in bar 4. Exs. 2–4 further develop this idea of phrasing.

Ex. 1


Ex. 2

Ex. 3

Ex. 4

In Exs. 5–6, the idea played in bar 2 is then developed in bar 4.

Ex. 5

Ex. 6

Exs. 7–8 utilize three-beat phrasing.

Ex. 7

Ex. 8

We can see how to develop solid jazz left-hand ideas by simply using these three basic ideas. Remember to always use space in your playing and try to think in small groups of phrases rather than endless meandering. Your best bet is to grab a bass player, and maybe a guitarist or piano player, and start jamming to see which of your ideas are keepers.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.

Lesson: Second and Third Jazz Triplet Partials

Lesson: Left Hand Upbeats in Jazz

Lesson: Left Hand Downbeats in Jazz