Breaking Down The Breaks #2: Simon Allen (of The New Mastersounds)

Breaking Down The Breaks #2: Simon Allen (of The New Mastersounds)

3. Ziggy Modeliste – “Look Ka Py Py” by The Meters (1969)

Another classic Zigaboo break. This is the title track of the album that “Oh Calcutta!” is on, so the drum production sound is pretty much the same. The main drum groove of this is counter-intuitive, with some of Ziggy’s syncopated snare hits being doubled-up on the kick drum—we are more used to hearing the kick and snare play off against each other in funk—but it sounds utterly righteous.

“The main drum groove of this is counter-intuitive, with some of Ziggy’s syncopated snare hits being doubled-up on the kick drum—We are more used to hearing the kick and snare play off against each other in funk—but it sounds utterly righteous.”

About fifty seconds into the track there’s a snare drum roll heralding a really tasty two-bar break. The beauty of this is that Ziggy almost certainly never played this exactly the same way twice—it’s pure feel—totally improvised. Even Zig’s bars of “regular” groove are all slightly different.

4. Bernard Purdie – “Got Myself a Good Man” by Pucho and His Latin Soul Brothers (1969)

I was dancing clumsily to this track way before I knew who Bernard Purdie was. It turns out I was digging his drumming on all sorts of groovy tracks before there was a reliable way of finding out who played what on what.
On this, an inspired instrumental cover of a Gladys Knight song, the drums are mixed over quite a way to the right, and the feel—even the snare drum pickup at the start of the track—is unmistakably Purdie.

His eight-bar drum break around 1’15” into the track is punctuated every two bars by stabs from the rest of the band. The last bar is particularly exquisite. Stick around for another three and a half minutes and you’ll get a second helping, but this time Bernard is trading licks with the congas coming from the other side of the stage.

Part of the first break was sampled by The Chemical Brothers in “Block Rockin’ Beats” from 1997. But it was the Beastie Boys who really bottled Purdie’s essence the following year by helicoptering his signature “da DA – CHI CHI CHI” fill a minute-and-a-half into their oddly titled “The Negotiation Limerick File” track from Hello Nasty.

We finally got to meet Bernard a few years ago when he was the “artist at large” at Bear CreekFestival, our favorite US music festival. We had a second kit set up and he joined us to jam out a version of the Johnnie Taylor song “Who’s Making Love” which was captured from the front of the stage.

It could have been a really intimidating experience—especially for me when we started trading fours—but BP put us all at ease from the start with his huge smile. He and our bassist Pete Shand really clicked that evening and they have since gone on to make a new record together, also out this month.

Danny

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Partly as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, partly as a freelance music journalist, but above all: out of love for all types of good music.