Carl Palmer Conducts A Rare Drum Clinic On Long Island!
Imagine what it would be like to take a lesson from a man who brought modern drumming to a whole new place. A man who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of what we call Progressive Rock. He merged elements of big band, classical and rock to form what we now know as the Carl Palmer style. On Wednesday October 4th 2000 – at Long Island's Vanderbilt Club – the king held court and his loyal subjects hung on every note the master played and every word he had to say. Emerson Lake and Palmer have been around for about thirty years and if any one knows drumming be it live or studio it's Carl Palmer. The evening was an extended drum lesson with Carl. This in itself was a rarity because he hasn't done a formal clinic tour in over 20 years.
He covered a great range of topics related to the craft. I may have been one of the few people in the room who was not a drummer but even I got something out of this evening. Carl instantly made us all feel like this clinic was going to be an informal, comfortable setting. "If you have any questions about what I'm doing please ask me, don't wait till the end." And that's what people did. "Hey Carl could you show us the part you played on..." Carl was happy to oblige. One audience member asked to see the famous "One Hand Roll." This is a pretty cool technique. Carl positioned his stick to look as if he was going to drive it through the head of his snare. Then with a steady back and forth motion began to sweep the snare head from left to right. He started slowly and increased speed gradually. He's got this down cold! It sounds like he's doing a roll with both hands. This type of "One Hand Roll" will free you up to play other parts. "Now you can throw in a cymbal part here." The audience laughed at this point because he made it look so effortless.
He ran down his choice of cymbals and why he uses them. His choice of heads and why they change from studio to live performances. "Black Dots heat up under the bright stage lighting and tuning becomes a little tricky." He discussed being influenced by such jazz greats as Joe Morello, Joe Jones and of course Buddy Rich. Carl told us that it's important to listen very carefully to other players and as he put it "Nick" from them but make it your own.
When it comes to playing drums, Carl believes it should be done with gusto. This was evident in his hi-hat demonstration. "Have you ever seen a drummer playing hats like this?" (Carl then played a timid Da dit dit Da dit dit Da beat on the hats) "Let me show you another way to play them." He then proceeded to give those hats a severe working over. He even threw in a little Buddy Rich. While playing a pretty tight 32nd note roll, he hit the hats underneath with the back of the stick and then came back up for the top of the hat. Let me remind you that there is a lot of extra arm movement involved for this little trick. You can't finger tip this one.
One of the high points of the evening was when Carl played a piece called "In A Moroccan Market." "I was on vacation in Africa and I heard a drum band playing in the market place and I thought, these guys are great." Wanting to save their performance, he pulled out his pocket recorder and recorded the band so he could study it later. He then composed a solo drum piece that recreated what this group of percussionists played. The right hand playing the part of one musician. The left hand playing the part of another. His foot still another. Carl became this Moroccan drum band. This piece was a true testament to the total independence Mr. Palmer is known for.
The evening was topped off with a very friendly Meet & Greet Autograph Signing. The audience had a chance to talk to Carl up close, get an autograph or have their favorite ELP album signed. I don't know if Carl will be doing more of these clinics. Personally I'd like to see him get back to making some more of that mesmerizing ELP music.
If Carl decides to do some more clinic dates, make it your business to attend.
© Tony DiLorenzo