Mr. Taste
Ed Thigpen is an often overlooked master drummer whose taste and musicality kept him out of the spotlight.  This (somewhat awkwardly titled) series is all about highlighting  my drumming heroes  demonstrating what I would call a melodic approach to drumming.  In the video at the top you can hear Ed playing and talking about some pretty clear examples of this kind of drumming.
  • Listen to how "Edmund" explains (around :42) his approach as trying to find ways to express himself "not only rhythmically, but musically"
  • He goes on to say that he is experimenting with ways of getting "tonal quality" from the drums and cymbals
  • During the head in (around 2:00), Ed has a couple exchanges with the pianist Billy Taylor where the drums seem to complete or extend a line that the piano starts.  
  • In Ed's solo you can hear some clear Papa Jo influence, particularly the way he plays the drums with his hands.
  • You can also hear how Ed uses the sound of the vamp as an inspiration for the beginning of his solo (especially around 2:25!).
  • As I explained in an earlier post, a melodic approach to drumming is not the same as literally quoting the melody.  Ed's drumming is melodic not only because of his incorporation of the vamp and the "tonal quality" of his playing, but because of the way he phrases and structures his solo with repetition and call and response. 
  • Listen to that bass drum starting at 3:34, YIKES! 
  • One of my favorite moments happens at the end of the solo when the piano comes back in.  Listen to how Ed moves his roll from the snare drum to the hi tom to match the pianists expanded chord, so musical!