dixieland drumming....help!


I have a gig I took for the 23rd of this month. I have done plenty of straight ahead jazz gigs before, but I've never done dixieland jazz before, I know this style proceeds the jazz I do play now, so it's probably very important to know. I was hoping for some help on this subject. I need to know at least enough to pull off a two hour hit. any help is greatly appreciated. thanks to all.


Just take a very simplistic jazz approach, maybe even revert to 4 on the floor. Dixieland was influenced a lot by marching.

Michael G

Silver Member
Well you could in theory pull of a Dixieland gig with your current jazz knowledge, after the ride cymbal came into play Dixieland drummers also began incorporating the ride and hi hat more and more, and the snare drum and woodblocks/cowbells not so much. Geo Wettling is a great example of a swing dixieland drummer. Later in his career, his primary focus shifted to the cymbal time keeping but you can still hear him rock a press roll. Check out some of his recordings on his Drummerworld page with Eddie Condon.

Since it is an important technique (press roll) for more of an authentic Dixieland drumming sound, you should learn how to do the press roll. You can hear Baby Dodds play it on his page on Drummerworld.

The press roll is essentially 4 beats with the right hand, dragging your left hand in a press on 2 and 4. After a little practice when you have it smooth, you and the audience hear just this lovely rhythmic shuffle sound. Some variations are a continuous press roll and accenting the right hand on two and four, called the Shimmy Beat. The SB isn't really a set rhythm, and I can't really explain it, but I'll dig up an example of it for you. It's a Baby Dodds lick but Jo Jones explains it with a cleaner recording so I'll probably lean there.

Woodblocks were a huge part of time keeping that eventually faded away for most Dixieland drummers, but it is a great time keeping method to add more color to the band. The best woodblock player I would attributed to Dodds. He would play these combinations of rudiments of flams, paradiddles, drags, triplets, or double strokes that compliment the band so nice, and are impossible to mimic. He was truly one of a kind. Woodblocks are just extra though, if you want to go that extra mile to make an impression. You can do just fine with out it.

And of course, what would be a post where someone didn't talk about "listening."

Check out some great dixieland drummers like Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Ray Bauduc, Tony Sbabaro (Spargo), Happy Goldston, Geo Wettling, or Paul Babarin. As always, there is plenty more but that should be a great base to get started with.

Also about the 4 on the floor thing, generally that is true except when it the number is very fast, in which the base drum only does 1 and 3.

Hope that small touch of Dixieland helps ya.

Edit: Uploaded Jo Jones explaining the Shimmy Beat. Move into it about 1:30 if you don't want to hear the part before it.


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Platinum Member
Do some research. Try typing "Dixieland" into youtube. There are a lot of good clips there.



Fantastic ! Thanks for the educated and very helpfull advice from all. I feel much better about doing this gig now. :)