Anatomy of a Drum Solo presents newly-recorded, in-studio footage of Neil discussing, in detail, his approach to soloing. Using a solo recorded in September, 2004 in Frankfurt, Germany, as a framework, Neil talks about each segment of this nine-minute tour de force that is a feature of each Rush performance. He describes the inspiration and the conceptual thinking behind each part of the solo and discusses, and often demonstrates, the technique necessary for playing that segment.
Also included are two "explorations" -- completely improvised workouts at the drums, each over thirty-minutes long; a never-before-released solo recorded in Hamburg, Germany in September, 2004 ("Ich Bin Ein Hamburger"); "O Baterista", Neil's Grammy(r) Award-nominated solo (previously released on the Rush in Rio DVD); two full Rush performances from Frankfurt '04, all shot from the perspective of the drum cameras; interviews with Lorne Wheaton, Neil's drum tech, and Paul Northfield, Rush co-producer and engineer; a full-color booklet, a photo gallery and more.
drumming in the shadow of giants
Four score years ago (give or take), our forefathers brought forth the drum solo. The people watched and listened, danced and cheered, and it was good.
Prophets and pioneers like Baby Dodds, Chick Webb, and Big Sid Catlett passed the sticks down to Gene Krupa, and his showmanship and rhythmic grace brought the spotlight to the drum solo as a popular performance piece. Gene Krupa was the first and only drummer to have a movie based on his life, and more than forty years ago, before I ever touched a pair of drumsticks or knew what a snare drum was, I saw The Gene Krupa Story on late-night TV. To the boy I was then, the notion of being a drummer seemed exciting, glamorous, elegant, and dangerous, and my eyes must have been shining with inspiration and desire. I remember thinking, 'I wanna do that!'
A few years later, when I did get a pair of drumsticks, and learned what a snare drum was, I began to get a sense of how much I had to learn. By the mid-'60s, so many giants had come before, pushing the frontiers of what had come to be known as jazz music. Buddy Rich's amazing technique and musicality had raised the drum solo to an even higher level of artistry and popular appreciation, and other inspired soloists like Louie Bellson, Max Roach, Joe Morello, Sonny Payne, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, and Jack DeJohnette took the form in fresh, exciting directions.
And at the same time as I was starting out, drum solos began to bloom in rock music too, in concerts and recordings. Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, Carmine Appice, John Bonham, Carl Palmer, and Michael Shrieve brought audiences to their feet in theaters, arenas, stadiums, and festivals, and fired me with more inspiration and desire 'I wanna do that!'
Through the '60s and '70s, jazz remained vital and constantly changing. Its various mutations produced brilliant innovators like Billy Cobham and Tony Williams, who built a bridge between jazz and rock'a bridge that would later be crossed in both directions by Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Peter Erskine, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Dave Weckl, and many others, all traveling with their own musical mastery and unbounded imagination.
For anyone who appreciates drum solos, whether playing them or watching and listening, I hope Anatomy of a Drum Solo will be entertaining, informative, and maybe even inspiring.
For those who recognize the feeling, "I wanna do that!", I can atleast demonstrate and articulate the way this drummer thinks about drum soloing, but my far greater hope is to inspire others to build their own solos, tell their own stories, as an expression of their tastes, their character, and their lives.
The drum solo is a tradition handed down to us, our heritage, as it were, and it is a heritage worth celebrating. Giants have come before us, and giants will come after, but even while us mere mortals play in their shadows, we can be inspired to aim just a little higher every day - or every night.
Drum solos are not for everyone, of course, whether they're drummers or music lovers. But even drummers who choose not to perform drum solos can still enjoy and benefit from a private indulgence. Exploring and experimenting freely, and even just that kind of practicing on your own, can only nourish and improve your playing.
At the end of my commentary in this DVD, I offer a blessing, or a wish, that is not just for drummers, but for everybody:
Go forth into the musical wilderness, and play well!
Camera Option - during Neil's performance of "Der Trommler," the viewer can choose between the program edit and two isolated cameras for different views.
Alternate Edits - during parts of Neil's analysis of "Der Trommler," the viewer can choose between the program edit, or an alternate edit with the playing example shown full-screen without Neil's commentary.
Audio-only tracks, "Momo's Dance Party" and "Pieces of Eight," composed and performed by Neil, which can be accessed at various points in the program.
Two Rush performance recorded and filmed in Frankfurt, September, 2004, from the perspective of the drum cameras.
Bonus Footage - a previously unreleased solo from the Rush Counterparts tour recorded March 27, 1994 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.
Solo Transcription - Neil's entire performance of "Der Trommler" has been transcribed note-for-note and is included here as a PDF.
Produced by Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis
Written by Neil Peart with Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis
Directed by Matthew Wachsman
Edited by Phil Fallo
Line Producer Dan Welch
Assistant Director Alfonse Giordano
Associate Producer Taryn Grimes-Herbert
Audio Engineer Paul Northfield
2nd Audio Engineer Sean McClintock
Video Engineer Ralph Umhoefer
Floor Manager Glenn Banning
ENG Sound Greg McKean
John "Kosmo" Kosmaczewski
Neil Peart's Drum Tech
Studio Manager Mark McKenna
Edited at Chez Fallo
Mixed by Richard Chycki and Alex Lifeson
Additional Still Photography
Greg McKean, Paul Siegel
Neil Peart uses:
Drum Workshop drums
Pro Mark drumsticks
Anatomy of a Drum Solo
"Der Trommler" (recorded September, 2004, Frankfurt)
Neil's analysis and discussion of "Der Trommler"
and of his approach to soloing
Sidebar 1 - Exclusive Hamburg solo ("lch Bin Ein Hamburger")
Sidebar 2 - "Exploration #1"
Bonus Features, including:
"O Baterista" (solo from Rush in Rio)
Interview with Paul Northfield, Rush co-producer and engineer, and Lorne Wheaton, Neil's drum tech
Lorne Wheaton setting up and talking about Neil's drum kit
Performances with Rush of "Tom Sawyer" and "Subdivisions"
Previously unreleased solo from Rush's 1994 Counterparts tour
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