“Waltz for Sweet Cakes” Drum Transcription — Art Taylor with Randy Weston

Posted on April 2, 2023

 Waltz for Sweet Cakes

Today is a very special day for my blog: the debut of my very first transcription request! The tune is “Waltz for Sweet Cakes” by Randy Weston, and it comes at the wish of none other than my girlfriend. 

My lady friend showed me this track a couple of months ago — we can’t quite remember how she found it, but there’s a neat drum feature towards the end of the number that caught her attention, and it’s worth sharing. It doesn’t look like anyone else has tackled this drum solo, so let’s have it. 

A couple of broad things to start with — “Waltz for Sweet Cakes” is, unsurprisingly, a spritely waltz, and in the first line drummer Art Taylor whips out a lick that becomes a reoccurring motif throughout the song:

The entire track is played with wire brushes. In addition, there are no cymbals throughout the solo. Lastly, all of the flams sound like they’re played as flat flams (a.k.a double stops), where both hands hit at the exact same time.

For me, the most arresting part of the solo comes in the fourth line of the solo. Pay attention to the phrasing of the tom hits:

The toms follow an eight–note pattern, which means the start of the pattern also lines up with the whole note triplet. Because we’re in 3/4, there’s a cool polymeter thing going — look at the excerpt again and see how the tom hits move forward a subdivision each time. (Note that it won’t really sound like a polymeter since only the drums are playing alone during this moment. It’ll just sound really syncopated). 

Art has an interesting way of hitting the toms during this segment. It sounds like he’s hitting them with just the edge of his brushes. It’s as if he’s going for a type of rimshot, but it doesn’t sound like one at all. 

While we’re on the topic of playing this lick, I think the best sticking is to use singles with a left–hand lead. You could use paradiddles, which might be easier… or a lot harder.  

Moving on, Art uses some single stroke four style rhythms and then singles to take us to the climax of the drum feature:

After a final reprieve of the motif, the rest of the band comes back in to end the number. 

It’s a short little feature, but songs like “Waltz for Sweet Cakes” are good material for my blog: worth picking apart, but not insanely intense that I spend all week transcribing. 

“Waltz for Sweet Cakes” is the second transcription I’ve done with MuseScore 4, and using MS4 is really a struggle. The new features are great, but the glitches are getting out of control, and every time I use the program I discover something that’s now broken. This week, I realized you can’t even make text bold with ⌘B anymore — instead, that shortcut adds a measure to the score, for some godforsaken reason. This was working fine back in version 1.3, and that was ten years ago! 

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