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Sean Rickman: Compositional Drumming

John Kelman By

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Drummer Sean "The Rick" Rickman, currently on tour with the M-Base-meets-hip hop fusion of Dapp Theory, delivers Compositional Drumming , a DVD that, while mainly an instructional DVD for drummers, is a fascinating look at how drums can (and should) be an equal part of the compositional process. While the role of a drummer may be to establish rhythm and groove, he/she should be equally capable of defining melody and thematic constructs, something that Rickman demonstrates throughout this fifty-minute, eight-song collection.

Interspersed throughout the performances, which feature Rickman playing drums to pre-recorded guitar, bass and keyboard tracks, are enlightening interviews where Rickman talks about how he made his first multi-track recordings, how he auditioned for (and got) the drum chair in Steve Coleman's Five Elements band, how he was able to learn, at an early age, from watching his uncle play, and how the interaction of instruments is more about listening and less about chops - although Rickman clearly has chops aplenty.

With camerawork that covers everything from wide shots of Rickman and the whole kit to close-ups of his foot-pedal work, Rickman demonstrates strong technique that is always in service of the song. The material fits comfortably in the funk/fusion mould, and Rickman clearly shows, through his ability to seamlessly work with and shift a variety of meters, lessons learned with Coleman.

The DVD is unquestionably of primary interest to drummers. It demonstrates how the role of drummer can extend far beyond mere timekeeping, and help to establish melodic motifs and structures, but it is also a fine lesson in maintaining groove at the same time as taking on a more dominant role. Rickman's body language when he plays says it all; relaxed, loose and completely at ease, he navigates the kit as if it were an extension of his body. But as much as the DVD is aimed at aspiring drummers, it is equally fascinating for any musician and, for that matter, non-musician, who wants insight into the larger role of drums in ensemble playing. Educational and entertaining, Compositional Drumming should be required viewing for any drummer who wants to expand their musical understanding beyond the confines of the kit.

Visit Sean Rickman on the web.

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