This video of Winard Harper is another in a series of videos of great drummers playing and talking about the importance of melody that I have been bringing up through this blog.  The main things I wanted to highlight in the video are:
Winard at work
  • Starting around 4:33, Winard talks about the importance of learning melodies
  • More specifically (around 5:30) Winard talks about how all the great jazz drummers were "hearing melodies" when they were playing, even if they weren't producing specific pitches.  
  • Winard connects this idea of "hearing melodies" with the even more fundamental idea of "playing musically"
  • As an example of this he talks about Max Roach's playing and how he incorporates Max's ideas into his playing
  • At 6:40, Winard points out that all the great jazz drummers would even sing melody when they were playing, using the examples of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, and Billy Higgins
  • He goes on to talk about giving the "idea of what the melody is", and shows some great examples of how to do this by singing the melody and playing around it (starts around 7:30, uses "Now's The Time" and "All The Things You Are")
I hope you enjoy this example of Winard's beautiful playing and teaching as much as I do!