Life Experience: Music

I have had musical experience as a student of jazz history, a teacher of jazz history, the editor of a jazz history textbook, a jazz critic, a jazz drummer, a jazz bandleader, a transcriber of recorded drumming solo and accompaniment patterns, the discoverer of the system underlying rhythm and drum technique, and author of a self-published music textbook.

Music History

My study of jazz history occurred primarily as a result of my personal and professional association with Dr. Mark Gridley, teacher of jazz history and author of eleven editions of Prentice-Hall's Jazz Styles, America's top-selling jazz history textbook, and seven editions of Prentice-Hall's A Concise Guide To Jazz. I met Dr. Gridley in 1972 at the age of 13, when he invited me to sit in on his jazz history course at Case Western Reserve University. Subsequently, I ended up acting as a substitute teacher for the same course beginning at age 16, as the editor of the first four editions of Jazz Styles, and as the drummer chosen to demonstrate jazz drumming techniques on the cassette that has accompanied the book since its third edition. From my decade-long association with Dr. Gridley and my involvement with his courses and books, I received a thorough education in jazz history and styles.

Education

History & Styles Of Jazz (Course I) And History & Styles Of Jazz (Course II) were courses offered at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio during the summer of 1972 and the Spring of 1975, respectively. Because I "audited" these courses informally, at ages 13 and 15, at the invitation of the instructor, I did not receive credit for my work. However, because I did perform all the required class functions, including all homework, I received an "A" in both classes.

Lectures

I lectured on several different occasions at the History and Styles of Jazz course at Cases Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio, on Miles Davis (Spring 1976) and John Coltrane (1980, 1981).

Scholarship

I assisted in the research and preliminary editing of the first edition of a music text book, Dr. Mark Gridley's Jazz Styles, published by Prentice Hall in April of 1978. I subsequently was hired by Prentice Hall to act as editor of the second edition, 1982-83, and by Dr. Gridley as editor of his additions to the fourth edition, 1989.

Documentation:

Thank you note from author Mark Gridley, regarding my work as researcher/editor of Jazz Styles, 1st Edition

Acknowledgments, Jazz Styles, 1st–11th Editions

Thank you note from author Mark Gridley, regarding my work as researcher/editor of Jazz Styles, 2nd Edition

Music Criticism: Jazz

Through a combination of my study of jazz history with Dr. Gridley, and my own private study of jazz through attending live performances (on a weekly basis from 1973-1975 and on a frequent basis from 1976 through the present), my accumulation of (and memorization of most of) a large jazz record collection, and my own development as a drummer and bandleader, I developed a knowledge of jazz sufficient to work professionally as a music critic. From age 16 through the present, I have had my writing on jazz published in several different local and national newspapers, magazines, and books.

Newspapers:

The Scene: I worked as the jazz critic for The Scene, Cleveland's oldest free newspaper (in existence approximately 35 years) at age 16, from 1975-76, authoring several record reviews.

New Review: I contributed a concert review of the jazz group "Weather Report," to New Review, a Village Voice-style Cleveland weekly, at age 16, in 1976.

Cleveland Press: I worked as the jazz critic for the Cleveland Press, a Cleveland Newspaper analogous to The New York Daily News, 1977-78.

Documentation:

The Scene: "Keith Jarrett: Backhand," record review published in The Scene 1976.

"Weather Report," concert review by Chuck Braman published in New Review, May 1976.

"Jazzman Rivers to Crest at Oberlin," article by Chuck Braman published in the Cleveland Press, February 16, 1978.

Magazines:

Jazz Magazine: I published a book review in Jazz Magazine, a national jazz monthly, 1978.

The Cleveland-Akron Jazz Report: I worked as a writer for The Cleveland-Akron Jazz Report, a free monthly magazine, from 1978-79.

Percussive Notes: I contributed to Percussive Notes Magazine, the quarterly journal of the Percussive Arts Society, in 1994.

Documentation:

"Paul Motian," article by Chuck Braman published in The Cleveland-Akron Jazz Report, December 1984.

"Paul Motian: Method of a Master," article and interview by Chuck Braman published in Percussive Notes, April 1994.

Books:

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz: I contributed biographies of Kenny Washington, Leon Chancler, Idris Mohammed, Peter Erskine, Paul Motian, and Steve Gadd to The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, late 1980s.

Documentation:

"Paul Motian," biography published in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.

Radio:

WRUW 50th Birthday Salute To Miles Davis: I participated with James Szabo (Program Host & Moderator) and Dr. Mark Gridley (Case Western Reserve Faculty), in a 24-hour, 50th Birthday Salute to Miles Davis on Radio Station WRUW, in Cleveland, Ohio, May 25, 1976.

Development Of Drumming Skills

At age 16 I decided to begin the study of drumming with the goal of becoming a professional musician. While still in high school, from 1975-78, I studied privately while practicing four hours a day in the evening. Upon graduation I made a deliberate decision that I could learn more about jazz drumming techniques through my own private study than through conventional college study (I had won a scholarship to Berklee College in Boston, which I turned down). From 1978-1981 I practiced 6-10 hours daily and from 1982-89 I practiced 1-6 hours daily. During this period I also began the process of systematically transcribing and then learning the techniques of all the drummers I admired. From 1978 through the present I have worked professionally as a drummer, making a full time living from 1981-89.

Development Of Drumming Technique:

Private study on the drumset with Bob McKee (Cleveland's most highly regarded private instructor), fall 1975 through 1979. During and following this period I mastered the following books, among others: Stick Control, by George Lawrence Stone, Accents and Rebounds by George Lawrence Stone, Syncopation by Ted Reed, Drumset: Advanced Studies by Bob McKee, Basic Rhythms for the Club-Date Drummer by Ted Reed, Creative Coordination for the Performing Drummer by Keith Copeland, Rock Drums Off the Record by Tony Caselli, The Sound Of Brushes by Ed Thigpen, Brush Artistry by Philly Joe Jones, Different Drummers by Billy Mintz, It's Time by Mel Lewis and Clem DeRosa, three books of advanced classical snare drum etudes including Portraits In Rhythm by Anthody J. Cirone, The Solo Snare Drummer by Vic Firth, and a book of Brazilian rhythms for the drumset by Airto. In addition, I also learned to read drum charts by studying several music-minus-one big band records and many drum charts written for contemporary popular music.

Learning Of Various Drumming Styles:

I was employed professionally as the drummer for the Case Western Reserve Jazz Lab Band from 1979-81, where I refined my skill at playing big band music, including the reading of big band drum charts.

I studied mridangam and the South Indian rhythmic system with Ramand J. Ragvahn (mridangam player for John McLaughlin's group "Shakti.") from January 1985 until July 1985.

I read "A History and Analysis of Jazz Drumming Until 1942," by Theodore Dennis Brown, a lengthy college dissertation that includes many transcriptions of early jazz solo and accompaniment patterns, for which I both located recordings and learned to play.

I prepared lectures and live drum demonstrations for several different occasions at the "History and Styles of Jazz" course at Cases Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio, on the topics of Elvin Jones (Winter 1979 and Spring 1981) and the evolution of the jazz rhythm section (various times, 1980-81).

I was hired by the Northeast Ohio Jazz Society to prepare a lecture/demonstration on the style of drummer Roy Haynes on April 23, 1995, from 2:30-3:15 at Severance Hall. (They paid my airfare to and from NYC plus the cost of the lecture.)

Documentation:

"Jazz Styles: The Cassette," a tape which accompanies the book Jazz Styles, History and Analysis, currently the number-one selling jazz history textbook in America, features myself demonstrating jazz drum styles and timekeeping patterns.

My original notes to my 1979 Elvin Jones lecture at Case Western Reserve University.

Transcription (Practice):

I have transcribed the solo and accompaniment drumming patterns on hundreds of jazz, rock, funk, fusion, reggae and blues recordings for the purpose of study, analysis, learning and assimilation. Most of these transcriptions are of a length, complexity, level of detail, and accuracy that is unprecedented in the work of other transcribers of drum music. I subsequently learned to play all of these transcriptions at their original tempos along with the recordings they were transcribed from.

Documentation:

Roy Haynes Transcriptions: a cassette featuring jazz drummer Roy Haynes recorded in various contexts, each followed by Chuck Braman performing his own transcriptions of those recordings, along with copies of the transcriptions themselves. (Created at the request of Roy Haynes.)

A five page long list of all of my transcriptions, created on Microsoft File database software, and sorted according to drummer, artist, album, selection, length of transcription, musical style, and whether the drumming in question is solo or accompaniment.

Videos of my bands  which can be viewed on the bands link of this website.

Development Of Original Drumming Style:

I developed an original style of drumming through the above activities in conjunction with the activity of earning a full-time living as a freelance drummer in Cleveland, Ohio, 1981-89.

Documentation:

Videos of my bands , demonstrates me performing in a style influenced by the many drummers I've studied and analyzed over the years, yet distinct from all of them.

Jazz Bandleader

From 1978 through the present I have acted as the leader of the Chuck Braman Trio, a group which has been the subject of articles in the Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press, the Cleveland-Akron Jazz Report, Echelon Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, and the Lakewood Sun Post; radio broadcasts on stations WCPN, WGAR, WRUW, WKSU; and television broadcasts on WJKW, Viacom Cable, and Warner Cable. In addtion, I have been interviewed in the capacity of bandleader on radio stations WCPN, WRUW, WELW and WGAR, and my group has performed concerts and clinics at the Interlocken Arts Academy (October 1986), and the Steifel Fine Arts Center (September 1988).

Documentation:

An article, "Braman Drums Up a Quartet," by John Richmond, published in the Cleveland Press, September 28, 1978.

An article, "Following a Serious Beat," by Phyllis Dixon, published in Echelon magazine, January 1985.

An audiotape of the Chuck Braman Trio, recorded during the summer of 1992.

A videotape of the Warner Cable TV broadcast of "Jazz From Schwannies," featuring the Chuck Braman Trio.

Videos of my bands , which can be viewed on the bands link of this website.

Original Music Research & Theory

To develop my own drumming style I had to first learn the vocabularies of the drummers who have preceded me whom I admired. To do this I would locate a recording of drumming which I liked but which I did not understand, and replay the various passages over and over again at both half and regular speeds, highlighting the frequencies of the specific components of the drumset with an equalizer, in order to notate on paper what the drummer was playing. The transcription of recorded drumming has never been done before to the extent to which I did it, in terms of the length, complexity, level of detail, and accuracy of most of my transcriptions. In 1986, after having surveyed and worked through many of the drum practice materials on the market, and after having learned the vocabularies of the great drummers, I was able to abstract the essential patterns underlying what drummers play and the relationships between them. In effect, over the years I had discovered the system underlying both rhythm and drum technique, and for the next three years I set about working out all the implications of this discovery, which I then published in book form.

Transcription (Research):

I have transcribed the solo and accompaniment drumming patterns on hundreds of jazz, rock, funk, fusion, reggae and blues recordings for the purpose of study, analysis, learning and assimilation. Most of these transcriptions are of a length, complexity, level of detail, and accuracy that is unprecedented in the work of other drum music transcribers.

Documentation:

Roy Haynes Transcriptions: a cassette featuring jazz drummer Roy Haynes recorded in various contexts, each followed by Chuck Braman performing his own transcriptions of those recordings, along with copies of the transcriptions themselves. (Created at the request of Roy Haynes.)

A five page long list of all of my transcriptions, created on Microsoft File database software, and sorted according to drummer, artist, album, selection, length of transcription, musical style, and whether the drumming in question is solo or accompaniment.

Theory:

Drumming Patterns: From 1976-87, through the process of devising my own practice routines, I discovered the system underlying rhythm and drum technique. This system is a never-before detailed rhythmic equivalent to the harmonic system that non-drummers use that reveals the nature of rhythm and drum technique in a way similar, for example, to the way that grammar reveals the nature of language. From the 1986-89 I organized this system for presentation to the public in the form of a 176-page book, in the process discovering and detailing its applications to the drumming techniques, rhythms and styles prevalent in the United States.

Documentation:

Drumming Patterns: book by Chuck Braman.

An Introduction To Drumming Patterns: A conceptual overview of the rhythmic/technical system discovered by Chuck Braman, as presented in his book, Drumming Patterns.

Endorsements: An advertising flyer featuring praise from Jim Chapin (Author of "Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer," considered one of the top drum books of all time), Louie Bellson (former drummer with Duke Ellington and the Tonight Show band), Ed Soph (jazz clinician and instructor at The University of North Texas) and John Beck (former president of the Percussive Arts Society, Chairman of Percussion at the Eastman School of Music.)

Favorable Reviews: Copies of reviews from Rimshot Magazine, Rhythm Magazine, Percussive Notes Magazine, Modern Drummer Magazine and Downbeat Magazine.

Radio:

Paul Motian And The Evolution Of Jazz Drumming Since 1960: An original, scholarly, two-hour long analysis on WCPN (Cleveland Public Radio) in 1987 of the contributions made by drummer Paul Motian to jazz drumming, illustrated with recordings.

Documentation:

CD recording.

Misc.

I earned a Certificate of Achievement from participating in Beachwood Recording Studios Music Production Workshop, weekly sessions, December 1985 through May 1986. This was a course in which students learned recording studio equipment and techniques, and then applied their learning by producing a finished tape of both a jazz group and a pop music group. Besides hands-on experience and instruction, the class was required to read Modern Recording Techniques, Second Edition by Robert E. Runstein and David Miles Huber (Howard W. Sams & Company, 1986).