[Dixielandjazz] Rushing

Ken Mathieson ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk
Tue Jun 8 17:16:08 PDT 2010

Hi Gang,

My take on this is that it's everyone's job to play in time as well as in tune. I agree that there has to be a leader within the rhythm section, ideally the person who plays the most even time, regardless of instrument, although it's it's easier for the drummer to enforce things. You've just got to hope he's the guy with the evenest time!

Rushing shouldn't be confused with playing at the front of the beat. This involves playing in time but a tiny fraction ahead of dead centre of the beat. It comes naturally to some players and not to others. Dave Tough used to talk about "dynamics in time" by which he meant advancing the attack at the front of the beat as a soloist increases his intensity. The space between the beats remaines the same, but the placement of the beats is being advanced. The trick is to fall back to the centre of the beat at the end of the solo (unless of course the following soloist or ensemble coe in like a storm). Sid Catlett was a master of this.

If I me up against erratic time players in the rhythm section, I do my best to blot them out of my mind, as rushing or dragging can be a bit infectious if the guilty party won't correct. Some people get obsessive about rushing. I saw a drummer in Atlanta GA who had fitted a digital read-out to his hi-hat which showed the beats per minute he was playing. He ignored everyone else in the rhythm section and concentrated on his read-out. The result was wooden, inflexible and lifeless. When I sat in, I switched it off and got a quiet thank you from the bassist and pianist! 


Ken Mathieson


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