Drum Transcription: “Jazz Crimes” — Tommy Igoe with The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy
Posted on March 21, 2021
Today, we’re talking about Tommy Igoe’s cover of “Jazz Crimes”. If you’re expecting me to prattle on about Tommy and Instagram, forget it — this is my third attempt at writing an intro for this post, and I spent a lot of work on this transcription, so to hell with all of that. I’m tired of stressing about the diplomatic way to discuss something I don’t care about.
Most of my exposure to Tommy Igoe comes from the work he’s done as an educator. For many, Igoe is the mastermind behind Groove Essentials and Great Hands for a Lifetime, which are adored pieces of education for many drummers. I’ve spent quite some time with both, and they’re no doubt ambitious and well–done projects.
Tommy also seems like the kind of drummer who always has an interesting perspective to share; if it’s not because of Groove Essentials or Great Hands, it’s because of videos like this one. I also really enjoy just hearing/reading about his takes on drumming and music — he seems congenial in video form, and the dude certainly knows what he’s talking about. In fact, I find myself empathizing with him quite a bit, as we both often seem to be at our wits’ end regarding the different trends and opinions drummers on the internet go through.
I haven’t met the guy, although I’ve had the chance — Tommy frequently plays/ed at Yoshi’s club in Oakland, and I grew up nearby. But I haven’t got a chance to see him play.
Of course, there’s one big thing to talk about: in addition to being an educator, Tommy is in fact a drummer. Many people aren’t that exposed to his playing on records — for most, it’s just YouTube videos. He played around in the studio quite a bit in the 90s before dialing things back for the last 15 years to focus more on education. Lately, however, Tommy has found time to front two bands: The Birdland Big Band and The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy.
Unfortunately, neither group has much material out there. Aside from a few live albums that are hard to get ahold of, each band has one studio album. Wanting to know more about Tommy as a drummer, I gave them a listen a few years ago.
Unsurprisingly, both albums are made up of jazz standards, with a more modern bent. For instance, the tune in question today is Joshua Redman’s “Jazz Crimes”, first released in 2002. The second half of the song is dominated by an extended drum solo. Tommy played the tune on his Drumeo lesson, and the performance got a bit of traction.
But it doesn’t quite compare to what he played on the record. Because… bloody hell, it’s something else. On my “About Me” page, I declared this to be the most challenging transcription I’ve done so far, simply because there’s so much going on.
The first thing to discuss is the solo vamp — if you tap your foot along to the section beforehand, you’ll notice that the vamp is offbeat. I tried my best to pick the right chords, but there’s no consensus online as to what’s being played:
Tommy starts by playing around the vamp with hi–hat barks and cymbal taps. He then starts introducing five–stroke rolls, with the last note of the roll played on the kick.
Things start to get out of hand around the 5:41 mark when Tommy starts to dish out some gnarly double stops licks — eventually, he starts playing a continuous run of 16th notes on the right hand, often subverting the vamp entirely. Quite challenging.
Things continue to escalate in the next big chunk of the solo, where Tommy unleashes a flurry of 16th note triplets and eventually 32nd notes. I tried my best to get it all down, but this stuff is nuts — these three measures took quite some time to figure out:
Afterward, we get a very demanding puh-duh-duh passage:
Tommy also makes use of an auxiliary snare in the final moments, notated with the double sharp notehead:
Most drummers save the auxiliary snare for grooves, maybe a fill or two; this is the only example I’ve heard where a drummer whips it out for a solo (ignoring drummers like Larnell Lewis who put their aux. snares in place of a floor tom).
The end of the solo is pretty straightforward, but… whew! This isn’t a terribly long solo. In fact, it’s only three pages. But man, it’s something else.
“Jazz Crimes” on Songwhip.