Lesson 8/21

Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set:
Lesson Series with Rich Thompson

Episode 2: "Adam's Air"

We're excited to present the second episode in a series of "Jazz Solos for Drum Set" lessons with Rich Thompson, Associate Professor of Jazz Studies, Contemporary Media and Drum Set Instructor at the Eastman School of Music.  In each of these lessons, Rich will perform a solo from his books, "Jazz Solos for Drum Set" and "Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set" which features the musical styles of legendary Jazz drummers throughout history. In each lesson, Rich shares his insights into the background of the artist, lists essential recordings and dives into the details of the solo to help you understand the context and stylistic approach of each drumming master.


In our first episode, Rich performed and broke down "Foster's Fare", a solo dedicated to Al Foster. In this lesson, Rich dedicates a solo to fellow Zildjian Artist Adam Nussbaum based on his recording of "Red's Blues" with Jerry Bergonzi. Download the sheet music and learn from Rich as he details Adam's intricate interpretation in this jazz swing solo.


from "Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set" by Rich Thompson

Foster's Fare PDF


ABOUT THE MUSIC (excerpted from "Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set")


Adam's Air - dedicated to Adam Nussbaum


Adam Nussbaum was born on November 29, 1955. He grew up in Norwalk, CT and started studying piano at age seven. At twelve, he began playing the drums and soon became interested in saxophone and bass. In 1975, Adam moved to New York City to attend The Davis Center for Performing Arts at City College. While at City College, he worked with pianist Albert Dailey, saxophonist/vocalist Monty Waters, singer Joe Lee Wilson and vocalist Sheila Jordan. Adam performed in Milwaukee, WI with Sonny Rollins in 1977, and in 1978, he joined Dave Liebman's quintet, which included John Scofield on guitar. Nussbaum continued to work with Scofield throughout the 1980's.


I used to watch him perform in the "The Village" with guitarist Leni Stern at a little club called 55 Bar, which is located on Christopher St. and 7th Avenue. I also enjoyed listening to Adam play in the celebrated orchestra of Gill Evans at another club called Sweet Basil on 7th Avenue.


Towards the end of the 1980's, Adam joined the Eliane Elias/Randy Brecker Quintet and he also performed with Gary Burton and Toots Thielemans. In 1988, he recorded with Michael Brecker's quintet on a Grammy winning record called "Don't Try This At Home."


In the early 1990's, Adam performed with the Carla Bley Big Band and a new trio which included John Abercrombie and organist Dan Wall. In the mid to late 90's, Adam toured, recorded and performed with Abercrombie, Tom Harrell, the Kenny Wheeler Quartet, and the Jerry Bergonzi Quartet. Nussbaum has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University, the New School and the State University of New York at Purchase. His clinics and master classes have been given around the world.


In "Adam's Air", stylistic solo ideas were inspired from "Red's Blues" on the album "Just Within" by saxophonist/leader Jerry Bergonzi. This is a trio featuring Bergonzi, Dan Wall on organ, and Adam on drums. Upon listening to this tune, one can see why Nussbaum is compared with the Elvin Jones camp in terms of style, technique and musicality.


Suggested Listening:

Tom Harrell "Sail Away"
Jerry Bergonzi "Just Within"
Dave Liebman "Monk Mood"
Steve Swallow "Always Pack your Uniform on Top"
John Abercrombie "Tactics"


     - Rich Thompson

Check out Adam Nussbaum's playing the original recording of "Red's Blues" on Spotify

Or on another recording with Jerry Bergonzi, Mulgrew Miller and Dave Santoro (below):

Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set

by Rich Thompson

Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set was written by Rich Thompson to supplement the solo literature available to high school and college drum set players. Each solo pays homage to a famous jazz drummer. A full performance CD includes all the tunes in the book and will enable students to have immediate feedback as well as a chance to play along with each solo. Short biographies with suggested listening examples have been included for each piece.


Collection Contains: Foster's Fare; Roy's Ruse; Adam's Air; Puttin' It On; Sum Of Bill; Joey's Bet; Brian's Bop; Jack's Journey; Gadd's Groove; Cobb's Cadence


Rich Thompson has been in demand as a top call drummer in Rochester for the past 25 years. Besides serving as the drum set instructor at the Eastman School of Music since the fall of 1996, Rich has toured, performed, and recorded with the “who’s who” of jazz greats including pianist James Williams (Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers), The Count Basie Orchestra, Tito Puente, Frank Foster, The Byron Stripling Quartet, saxophonist Rich Perry, the Bill Dobbins Trio, Harold Danko, Marion McPartland, Trio East (which includes Clay Jenkins and Jeff Campbell), trumpeter Snooky Young, guitarist Gene Bertoncini, Carl Fontana, Phil Woods, Joe Pass, and a host of others too numerous to mention. The Boston Globe cited Rich as “the drummer who drove the Basie sound” when he appeared with them at the Boston Jazz and Blues Festival.


Rich has been touring this country and abroad with the Byron Stripling Quartet for the past five years. His new CD entitled “Trio Generations” was released in May of 2012 on Origin Records. It was included on the long list for two Grammys. His new CD entitled “Less is More” was recorded with trumpet sensation Terell Stafford, pianist Gary Versace, and bassist Jeff Campbell and was released in March of 2013 on Origin Records also. In 2016 Rich recorded “Have Trumpet Will Swing” w/the Bryon Stripling Quartet and in 2017 “I Believe in You” by the group Triocity was released. Triocity features multi-saxophonist/reedman Charles Pillow and bassist Jeff Campbell.


Rich performs regularly with numerous symphonies in the U.S. and Canada, the world renowned “Jazz Cruise” and clubs throughout the U.S. and Europe with the Byron Stripling Quartet. His clinics and performances have taken him as far as France, Thailand, Japan, Switzerland and Newfoundland. Rich has written four drum set books published by Kendor Music USA and Advance/Schott Music-Germany. Visit Rich on his website to listen to clips or watch a video of his trio at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.