The following are some recordings you should check out. They are geared towards the set drummer or hand percussionist. All of these have greatly influenced me in one way or another and contain fantastic music.
Chick Corea and Return to Forever -- Light as Feather
Verve 314 557 115-2
One of the most inspirational recordings I listened to as a young guy. This record is so full of life that you can’t help wanting to go play after listening to it. Airto is simply amazing in every way on this record and it makes you wonder why he is not well known as a drum set performer. His brushwork on “You’re Everything” should be required listening for every aspiring drummer. Try to get the double CD version with the alternate takes.
Miles Davis -- Four and More
This live recording captures a young Tony Williams at the beginning of his unbelievable career. There are only two tempos on the record (fast and faster) but the raw energy created by the rhythm section of Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Tony was (and still is) groundbreaking.
McCoy Tyner -- The Real McCoy
This record features the Coltrane Rhythm section (along with Ron Carter on Bass) which included Elvin Jones on drums. The tunes, recording and playing are all magnificent. My favorite Elvin record (and there are a lot of great ones).
Pat Metheny -- Question and Answer
This comparatively current recording prominently features the awesome Roy Haynes. The drums are mixed way out front so you can really experience all the snap crackle and pop of Roy’s drumming.
Wynton Marsalis -- Black Codes from the Underground/Standards Volume 1
This record captures Jeff Tain Watts at the beginning of his career. His playing is less dense here than his current recordings and you can really hear the Tony/Elvin influence clearly. Standards contains lots of good examples of metric modulation. Great stuff.
Larry Golding -- Any Record with Bill Stewart
I love organ trios and this is my favorite lineup. Stewart plays with amazing restraint and groove. He truly has his own sound.
John Scofield -- Blue Matter, Loud Jazz and Pick Hits
This was many drummers first exposure to the incredible drumming of Dennis Chambers who had played with Parliament Funkadelic for years. The sparse playing of Scofield fits Chamber’s monster chops and groove perfectly. These are my favorite Chambers recordings.
Chick Corea -- Friends and Three Quartets
These two records feature Steve Gadd who is one of the most influential drummers of all time. The records are very different compositionally which is why I recommend checking both of them out.
Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Big Band -- Anything
Mel Lewis was and still is my favorite big band drummer. His understatement and taste are unmatched. While not a technical dynamo like some other big band drummers Mel always played for the music and enhanced it. Check out his phenomenal brushwork.
Keith Jarrett Standards Trio -- any of them
There are a lot of these records out and they are all great so I won’t recommend a single one. Jack Dejohnette’s drumming is always musical and he really finds a unique voice on all of these recordings.
Fort Apache Band -- Any of their 7 recordings, especially Rumba Para Monk
This is my favorite Latin Jazz group. Steve Berrios is on drums and he always creates an incredible organic backdrop for the true merging of the groups traditional Latin rhythms with modern jazz. No group does it better.
Michel Camilo -- Any of his many CDs
Camillo’s groups feature many different drummers such as Dave Weckl, Marvin Smitty Smith, Cliff Almond, Joel Rosenblatt, etc... This is Latin Jazz at its most exciting. Camillo posses incredible piano technique and seems to push his drummers to the brink.
Sinatra and Basie -- any of the three albums they did together
This is Sinatra at his best and the Basie band with Sonny Payne on drums swings (as usual) like mad. Required listening.
Tower of Power -- Anything with David Garibaldi, especially “In the Slot”
For anyone interested in Funk Drumming this should be required listening.
Buddy Rich -- Big Swing Face
One of my favorite buddy albums this is a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with his style. The way he drove his many bands and his awesome technique will never be matched.
The Beatles -- Any of the later albums starting with Revolver
A perfect example of how a drummer with limited technique can be the one and only match for a band. I could not imagine the Beatles with another drummer besides Ringo (or was it Paul?)
Led Zeppelin -- Anything
When I was coming up John Bonham was my favorite Rock Drummer and he still is. His power and groove were incredible and this always came through on all the Zeppelin recordings.
Steely Dan and Donald Fagan -- Asia, The Royal Scam and The Nightfly
These records make great listening and studying for many reasons. There are several different drummers on them: Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, Jeff Pocaro, Jim Keltner etc. There are a great variety of grooves and styles and the drum sounds are all so different.