Comping for Jazz Drummers

Master the essential component of jazz drumming with this simple approach. This book offers a clear step-by-step method suitable for anyone new to jazz drumming and also provides a thorough work out for more experienced players.

Includes 128 downloadable play-along audio tracks

Rhythm Changes Soloing
Play Video
Master the coordination whilst also learning to improvise musical sounding phrases, giving you the confidence to 

Are you an experienced drummer but new to jazz?

Do you struggle to know what to play on the snare or bass drum when playing jazz?

Do you find the coordination required to play jazz a challenge?

Are you looking for a more structured approach to develop your jazz drumming?

Then this introduction to comping for jazz drummers is for you! 

This book is aimed at drummers who have some experience in playing other styles but are new to jazz. It is not a “how to play the drums” book, but deals specifically with some common problems which drummers face when learning to play jazz. In particular, comping, which to the uninitiated can seem quite random! Jazz drummers don’t loop beats, they play time and comp. They respond and react to what is happening around them at the moment. This requires a different approach from learning a rock/pop song with a fixed arrangement. You have to be prepared for anything! Which means you have to have a different approach to practicing. 


This book breaks the process down into clear steps with a thorough series of exercises that improve your skills as your confidence and understanding increase. It offers not only a clear practice method, but also explains how to apply the material in a musical context and develop a fluency with comping which enables you to improvise your own ideas, as you would on a jazz gig. 


The first part of the process focusses on developing your coordination skills with a logical and thorough series of exercises working systematically through the fundamental rhythmic ingredients of comping. 


The next step takes those ingredients and creates melodic phrases using snare drum and bass drum combinations. This is where the language of jazz comping is developed with many examples provided as samples for you to practice and use as a template for your own ideas. Clear strategies, such as question and answer phrasing are demonstrated to help you turn the exercises into music on the drums. 


A chapter on polyrhythmic phrasing shows how the same basic ideas and ingredients can be used to produce the complex phrasing often played by Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. 


The last step puts you into a musical situation using play-along tracks with professional jazz musicians where you can practice improvising your own comping, listening and responding to the pianist as it happens in real time. 


There is also a chapter on how to interact with the soloist to bring the drums to the forefront and confidently become an equal partner in the music. You are not there just to keep time! As the great Duke Ellington said, “Jazz is democracy!”


A chapter on “Checking Out The Masters” offers analysis of some classic recordings which show the incredible evolution of jazz drumming from the hard-bop of 1954 to the post-bop of 1964. With each track certain comping phrases are identified and matched with exercises in the book, so you know what to work on to sound like the greats on the records! A Spotify playlist is included to make it easy for you and includes recordings by Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Jimmy Cobb, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. 


Throughout the book every example is notated and audio recordings are provided as a demonstration of each example, which means you can still use this book even if you are not a great reader. The book also comes with an appendix of play-along bass tracks at various speeds ranging from 60bpm to 300bpm for you to practice with and measure your progress. 

Don't Take Our Word For It!

"Buster has developed a systematic way of improvising using chordal notes and chromatic notes that will enable the improviser to develop jazz vocabulary and harmonic detail. I thoroughly recommend this book and will be using it in my teaching.

Steve Waterman - Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, The Royal Northern College of Music, Canterbury Christ Church University and The Purcell School. (Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Tony Coe, Victor Mendoza, Mal Waldron, Graham Collier, Colin Towns)

"A clear and easy to follow guide to improvising on one of the most important vehicles in jazz repertoire, which goes meticulously by step from simple chord tone improvisation to chromatic alterations and harmonic substitutions." 

Chris Batchelor - Senior Lecturer of Jazz Studies at Middlesex University, Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Trinity Laban conservatoire of music. (Michael Brecker, Sam Rivers, Hermeto Pascoal, Tim Berne and Uri Caine)

"Once again, Buster Birch has found creative and efficient solutions for some of the thorniest problems in jazz pedagogy. Highly recommended!" 

Rex Richardson - (International trumpet artist, Yamaha Performing Artist, Joe Henderson Quintet).

"I like the way Buster takes the learner through those important steps needed to tackle these types of chord progressions. Simple to follow and enjoyable to play along to, the student should find it easier to progress using his methods.”

Andy Panayi - Professor of Jazz and Classical Flute at The Royal College of Music and The Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. 

“Another excellent publication, an invaluable resource for jazz students and students of the music”.

Simon Purcell - International Chair in Improvisation at the Guildhall School of Music in London. Formerly Head of Jazz at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance from 2005-2017 and member of the Pop and Jazz Steering Group for  the Association of European Conservatoires from 2009-2018.

"Buster is not only a great musician, but he also presents such an accessible and well-rounded teaching approach. This is nothing short of jazz learning gold!"

Julian Nicholas - Jazz Course Leader Chichester College. (Loose Tubes, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Dudu Pukwana, Kirk Lightsey, Jimmy Witherspoon)

 “ I wish there had been more books like this when I started out, a clear and informative springboard into jazz improvising. A great addition to the library"

Stan Sulzmann - Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire. Professor of jazz saxophone at the Guildhall School of Music, Trinity Laban conservatoire of music. Former head of Jazz at the University of Exeter. Guest artist at the Thompson Jazz Studies Program, Boulder Colorado. 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. These links are all affiliate links, which means I get a small commission on each purchase, but the price is the same for the buyer.