Tuesday, January 18

Psst! Pssst!

If any of you have ever wondered
a ride cymbal can splash and shake
and shudder
but can’t go psst! pssst!
the way a hi-hat can

and what the difference
is between grace notes
and ghost notes

and how fingers
can do a cross stick backbeat
all in a 16th note shuffle

and why oh why oh why do
jazz lovers scorn drum machines ...

... then percussion master Bernard "Pretty" Purdie is here to explain it all:

yeaaahh ... pssst! psssst!
And a short poem from Langston Hughes:

Langston Hughes on front steps of
his home in Harlem, 1958.
Robert W. Kelley/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Midnight Dancer
(To a Black Dancer in "The Little Savoy")

Of the jazz-tuned night,
Sweet as purple dew,
Like the pillows of all sweet dreams,
Who crushed
The grapes of joy
And dripped their juice
On you?


  1. Wonderful, Lorenzo. Purdie is fabulous.

  2. joy juiced is a good way to be eh? smiles. yeah he rocks it...psst...psst...

  3. Well, I admit, I never wondered, but boy now, this is wonderful!

  4. While I listened to Bernard Purdie talk and drum with his hands, I looked at your hands on the rail, next to the bronze man's hands, on the same screen as Langston Hughes' jacketed hand, and even the blue elephant's front hooves looked ready to tap, and Miguel Hernández made the harmonica start to move. And I was groovin' . . .

  5. Yeah, a good day for drumming and grooving.

  6. Loved Purdie! It's our imperfections that make us lovable. Our particularities make us who we are. Purdie says it best: "As you can see nothing is ever precise. It's all about allowing your fingers to do the walking."

  7. Langston Hughes says it, doesn't he?

    And to think, my brother always wanted to learn the drums, never did, unless you count utensils on the kitchen table.

  8. "allright, that works!"... purdie said it best. nice possssst lorenzo ;-)

    and i love rosaria's comment, a good day for drumming and grooving indeed.

  9. I never realised the origins of drumming as described here in verse and in fact. Wonderful Lorenzo, and so uplifting.

  10. absolutely gorgous little poem there

  11. Wonderful lines here! They just ooze right off the page. Love it!

  12. OMG!! Starting my day smiling from ear to ear!!

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Lorenzo. Amazing how Purdie was able to deconstruct his creative process in such a lucid manner. I laughed at the surprised expression on his face when the hi-hat created that sixteenth note.

    The short poem is wonderful.

  14. F*! and F**K!!! sorry. my god! was he wooing a woman, dancing tight, or making love there? OHHHHH! Please, please, please, born me into another time!

    Oh, that was tight, Lorenzo!



  15. Wow! That was wonderful, Lorenzo. Such a fabulous experience to hear Purdie explain his ghost notes. Oh, that other mysteries could be explained with such confidence and abandon. Also loved the Langston Hughes poem. I was hooked at the first lines: "Wine-maiden of the jazz-tuned night . . . " Perhaps life was "no crystal staircase" for Hughes, but he mounted something comparable with this line.

  16. Hello, Lorenzo! Please forgive my absence since the holidays. It's so good to see you again. And what an awesome post! You are right on. Yes, I scorn drum machines, too.

    Bernard "Pretty" Purdie is a genius! And what a performer. As I watched his expert, masterful hands and listened to him speak, I kept thinking that I was watching a poem unfold. Yes, it is poetry. A poet can learn a lot about rhythm from a musician, of course. Now I've got to write those ghost notes!

    The Langston Hughes poem is also wonderful. Another master, he is one of my favorites. Thank you so much, Lorenzo. This is wonderful.

  17. Absolutely awesome :)

    I promised to shout out when I returned to the blogging world... and here I am, less eternally distracted than before!! :)

  18. Hah I live with a drummer, not so much psst psst in my pool room I can tell you.

  19. The Langston Hughes is a delicious treat.

  20. Always you introduce me to more beauty.

  21. This is fabulous Lorenzo, love the jazz world it has the beat of the city of the fields of life all around us, I would say hey "listen say listen" the choreographed beat -- it seems to work as you walk about all about you -- and discovery the beat.

    warm wishes

  22. His soul is pure rhythm - always rockin', always groovin'. Loved how he talked and thought and kept tapping at the drums.

    Thank you!


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