The Ultimate Guide to “Fake” Latin Jazz Beats on Drums ,

Get your free transcription here –


0:00 – intro
1:09 – sponsor message/help yourself by helping me/free download
1:23 – real latin jazz beats
3:07 – “fake” latin jazz beats
5:18 – how to play them, part 1
13:03 – how to play them in “all” meters

One of my favorite thing about jazz drums is something I’m not sure there’s a..word for…

It’s what Elvin played on a Love Supreme, or Zoltan…

it’s what Max Roach played on star eyes…

What Art Blakey played on A Night in Tunisia, with the jazz messengers.

Some of it comes from the afro-latin tradition…

…it’s inspired by that…but it’s not exactly that.

But whatever it is, it’s awesome, and it’s part of jazz drumming.

And It’s also really challenging to learn, and will help your touch and coordination along the way.

Today, we’ll explore a little – and I mean a REALLY little – of where these beats came from…

…and more importantly, I’ll show you a five step method to get you stared learning them. In any time signature!

Modern examples:

Dafnis Prieto – grew up in Cuba, played with eddie palmieri among others. If Dafnis plays it, it’s correct.

Jazz drummers like Antonio Sanchez, Ernesto Simpson, Henry Cole, Adam Cruz – in the bands they’re working with they’re stretching the definitions of clave, often they don’t have percussionists, but they’re steeped enough in the tradition that just like Jack Dejohnette doesn’t literally need to play spangalang for it to be jazz, I’d argue these drummers play things with deep roots in the tradition.

part 2 – fake latin jazz

I’m not even saying drummers like Max Roach, Blakey, Elvin Jones, Tootie Heath, etc. aren’t playing things that are inspired by afro-latin roots.

When Dizzy Gilespie recorded Manteca in 1947, he worked with cuban percussionist Luciano “Chano” Pozo to both write and record the tune, and incorporated Pozo’s playing and input into the song.

Basically I’m trying to talk about the tradition enough so that I don’t have to talk about it.

But let’s check some of these examples of “jazz latin” beats:

A Love Supreme is one the most famous.

A night in tunisia by the jazz messengers is another one.

Con Alma, with stan Getz and Grady Tate is yet another.

And how about things like the introduction to star eyes, from Max Roach?

And the introduction to Stablemates, by Benny Golson’s drummer, Philly Joe Jones.

This “jazz latin” thing has become so deeply wired into jazz drumming’s DNA that I’d argue it’s a separate lineage from the “authentic” vein.


ALL of which segues, now that you know what it is, to how to play it. Because there are books out
part 3 – how to play it

Source materials – cross stick, cymbal bell, toms


clave and cascara – it’s possible for things to be in clave even if they’re not strict
Toms – originally “tumbao” (?) – if you’re not playing with a percussionist they can be anything musical, depending on how “clave authentic” you want to be

Step 1: play the clave with the cross stick and the cascara with the lead hand – I’ll show you classic claves for a few odd meters

Step 2: HH on all 8ths or quarters, “cascara” on tom rim

Step 3: figure out the tom melody – adjust the pattern if necessary to make it more “drumistic”

Step 4: ride bell accent pattern

Step 5: revert to tom rim as necessary


Leave a Reply