MHC drumming instructor Gregory Caputo recently published a book called Classic Swing Drumming: Methods and Techniques for the Development of the Swing Feel.
“It’s a versatile book,” Caputo says. “The book is for any musician who wants to know the swing feel and who wants to teach the swing feel to students. It’s for drum students, musicians who play any instrument, and for people who want to know the history. Swing is a very important part of American culture.”
JazzTimes magazine calls Caputo “the keeper of the Big Band flame.”
In addition to helming his own group—The Gregory Caputo Big Band—Caputo has performed with many of the jazz greats in a career spanning 40 years. They include Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Nelson Riddle, Benny Goodman, and more. He is experienced in Latin, Motown, and contemporary styles.
In the book, Caputo explains what the swing feel is, how players can instill it in their drumming, and what jazz artists look for in a drummer.
“I teach it by having them vocalize the swing feel. It’s a combination of singing and playing the rhythms,” he says. He includes a list of significant songs, who played them and where they are available.
The book opens with a forward by alto saxophone player Phil Woods, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and an introduction by pianist and composer Dave Brubeck. It includes photos from the beginning of the swing era, which is generally thought to date to a 1935 performance by Benny Goodman and his band at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles.
Classic Swing Drumming, and Caputo’s CD Classic Swing with a Modern Drive, are available through his website.
—By Ronni Gordon