Change The Guard

This chant became a warm up exercise along with being one of the most challenging chants to perform at fast tempos. “Change The Guard” has alternate titles and was written by alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. This lesson is based off the version recorded on Tao of Mad Phat. There are numerous live versions on audio and video and this composition and chant have been the skeleton for many performances where other classics are superimposed into this particular sequence. Most Western chants start with a kick drum and a crash. It is the most common familiarity in Western drum set concept. However, “Change The Guard” begins with the snare followed by a double kick and a ride bell pattern. It sounds backwards. Then there is the form that is S S L or Short, Short, Long. You can call this the framework from which the composition is rhythmically based. There are two sections that flip flop triggered by a horn cue I play on rhythm guitar during the performance with the accompaniment. When I auditioned for Steve in April of 1996, I walked into Ultra Sound rehearsal studios in NYC on West 30th in Midtown Manhattan. It seemed as if every drummer in New York City was there. I didn’t intend to nail this audition or be chosen for the band. I attended because a friend suggested it and I figured it was a fast way to meet a lot of drummers in an instant. Many of the drummers that auditioned before and after me were typical and didn’t have the ability to translate unusual rhythmic patterns on the spot. Steve was looking for a musician with quick ears and the sense to adapt in an uncomfortable situation. Next thing I know, I’m in the band and my first gig was scheduled for North Sea Jazz Festival in July that year. Steve was beginning his residency plans in which he sets up residence in a city for a couple weeks performing, woodshedding and conducting workshops. The band was in residence in Oakland, CA and Stanford University from June – August 1996 and those weeks set the pace for the following six week European Tour. I would go on to work with this band for the next 6 years until 2002. I rejoined in 2012.

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