Top 5 Drummers to Study in Each Genre

For all the drum teachers out there who offer private lessons to students of all ages and abilities, here is a resource you can use with your students when they ask about a genre of music that maybe is not your expertise, but that you can certainly help them with if given the right direction. As most of us know, there is an unlimited number of bands, and therefore we can only follow a certain amount at any given time. I compiled this list after having several moments where I didn't quite know where to take a student based on what their interests were.

When teaching a student metal drumming, which I have a finite knowledge of, I would sort of scramble to find something interesting and that had strong musical content for me to draw lesson material from. It wasn't necessarily the best choice, and so to make sure I always had the best choice of drummer for the occasion, I began researching and making lists of drummers for each genre.

I would also note several key albums, so the next time a student asks who the best blast-drummer is, I would know which drummer for them to check out, as well as some key albums that highlight their drumming.

These are by no means definitive lists, and I am open to suggestions, put comment in the comment section, or send me an email.

If you think this is a good resource for other teachers then please share!

 

 

Rock

 

1. Neil Peart

Best known as the drummer of prog-rock band Rush, Neil Peart is considered one of the most influential rock drummers of all time.


Recommended Albums:

2112 (Rush)

Hemispheres (Rush)

Moving Pictures (Rush)

 

 

2. John Bonham

Drummer for the British rock band Led Zeppelin, there might not be a single rock drummer on the planet who doesn't site "Bonzo" as an influence on the instrument. His unique style and sound have given Led Zeppelin an instantly recognizable sound.


Recommended Albums:

Led Zeppelin I

Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin IV 

 

 

3. Dave Grohl

Drummer for Nirvana and has also worked with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails.


Recommended Albums:

Nevermind (Nirvana)

In Utero (Nirvana)

Songs for the Deaf (Queens of the Stone Age)

 

 

4. Todd Sucherman

Best known for having been a member of Styx since March 1995.


Recommended Albums:

Return to Paradise (Styx)

Live at Riverport (Styx)

 

 

5. Jon Theodore

The original drummer of the Mars Volta, and current drummer for Queens of the Stone Age.


Recommended Albums:

 Deloused in the Comatorium (The Mars Volta)

Frances the Mute (The Mars Volta)

One Day As a Lion

 

 

 

Progressive Music

 

1. Bill Bruford

Drummer for King Crimson, Yes, Gong, and bandleader of Earthworks. Bill Bruford was a pioneer in world of progressive drumming.


Recommended Albums:

Red (King Crimson)

Discipline (King Crimson)

Close to the Edge (Yes)

 

2. Matt Garstka

One of the great young drummers of the genre, Matt Garstka pushes the boundaries of progressive music. He is best known as the drummer for Animals As Leaders.


Recommended Albums:

The Madness of Many (Animals As Leaders)

Live 2017 (Animals As Leaders)

 

 

3. Jojo Mayer

Virtuoso Austrian drummer who was one of the main proponents of progressive electro-drumming.


Recommended Albums:

The Distance Between Zero and One (NERVE)

Reloaded (Depart)

 

 

4. Vinnie Colaiuta

An inductee of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, Vinnie Colaiuta is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time.


Recommended Albums:

Joe’s Garage (Frank Zappa)

Ten Summoner’s Tales (Sting)

Vinnie Colaiuta (Vinnie Colaiuta)

 

 

5. Mike Portnoy

Ex-Dream Theater and inductee into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.


Recommended Albums:

Systematic Chaos (Dream Theater)

Awake (Dream Theater)

Scenes from a Memory (Dream Theater)

Liquid Tension Experiment

 

 

Studio Greats

One of the most recorded drummers in history. Has made his mark in several different genres.

1. Steve Gadd


Recommended Albums:

Aja (Steely Dan)

Friends (Chick Corea)

One-Trick Pony (Paul Simon)

 

 

2. Jeff Porcaro

First call session drummer in the 80s who had a knack for creating unique grooves that influenced the future generations.

Recommended Albums:

Toto IV (Toto)

Thriller (Michael Jackson)

The Nightfly (Donald Fagen)

 

 

3. Bernard Purdie

Studio legend and inventor of the infamous "Pretty Purdie Shuffle"

Recommended Albums:

Young, Gifted and Black (Aretha Franklin)

Live at the Fillmore West (Aretha Franklin)

Soul Drums (Bernard Purdie)

 

 

4. Hal Blaine

Claiming over 35,000 recording sessions and 6,000 singles, Hal Blaine's drumming is featured on 150 US top 10 hits, 40 of which went to number one.

Recommended Albums:

Pet Sounds (Beach Boys)

Bookends (Simon & Garfunkel)

Leisure Time (Hal Blaine & The Young Cougars)

 

 

5. Jim Keltner

One of L.A.'s busiest studio drummers since the 1960s.

Recommended Albums:

The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (The Traveling Wilburys)

Bring the Family (John Hiatt)

Salutations (Conor Oberst)

 

 

Metal

 

1. Derek Roddy

His ability to record entire drum tracks in one or two takes earned him the nickname "One Take".​​​

Recommended Albums:

I, Monarch (Hate Eternal)

Black Seeds of Vengeance (Nile)

Serpents Rise (Any Album)

 

 

2. Danny Carey

Known for his work with the group Tool.

Recommended Albums:

Lateralus (Tool)

Aenima (Tool)

Undertow (Tool)

 

 

3. Gene Hoglan

A highly-influential drummer known for his creative use of double-pedals.

Recommended Albums:

Alien (Strapping Young Lad)

Dark Roots of Earth (Testament)

Individual Thought Patterns (Death)

 

 

4. Joey Jordison

Best known for his work with Slipknot, and is considered one of most influential metal drummers of all-time. 

Recommended Albums:

Slipknot (Slipknot)

The All-Star Sessions (Roadrunner United)

 

 

5. Tomas Haake

Drummer and principal songwriter for metal superband Meshuggah. As been named Best Metal Drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine.

Recommended Albums:

The Violent Sleep of Reason (Meshuggah)

Koloss (Meshuggah)

ObZen (Meshuggah)

Nothing (Meshuggah)

 

 

Jazz

 

1. Elvin Jones


Recommended Albums:

A Love Supreme (John Coltrane)

My Favorite Things (John Coltrane)

Puttin' It Together (Elvin Jones)

 

 

2. Max Roach


Recommended Albums:

Study In Brown (Clifford Brown & Max Roach)

Parisian Sketches (Max Roach)

Money Jungle

 

 

3. Tony Williams


Recommended Albums:

Miles Smiles (Miles Davis)

E.S.P. (Miles Davis)

Empyrean Isles (Herbie Hancock)

 

 

4. Papa Jo Jones


Recommended Albums:

Count Basie at Newport (Count Basie)

The Essential Jo Jones (Papa Jo Jones)

Jo Jones Trio (Papa Jo Jones)

 

 

5. Buddy Rich


Recommended Albums:

Big Swing Face (Buddy Rich Big Band)

The Drum Battle (B. Rich, G. Krupa)

Lester Young Trio (Lester Young)

 

 

Modern Jazz

 

1. Eric Harland


Recommended Albums:

13th Floor (Eric Harland)

Invisible Cinema (Aaron Parks)

Back East (Joshua Redman)

 

 

2. Ari Hoenig


Recommended Albums:

The Painter (Ari Hoenig)

Bert’s Playground (Ari Hoenig)

Jazz Side of the Moon: Music of Pink Floyd

 

 

3. Nate Smith


Recommended Albums:

Pathways (Dave Holland)

Critical Mass (Dave Holland)

Underground (Chris Potter) 

 

 

4. Brian Blade


Recommended Albums:

Pursuance (Kenny Garrett)

Trilogy (Chick Corea, Christian McBride, B. Blade)

Footprints Live! (Wayne Shorter)

 

 

5. Mark Guiliana


Recommended Albums:

Family First (Mark Guiliana)

Beyond Now (Donny McCaslin)

Mehliana (M. Guiliana, Brad Mehldau)

 

 

Funk

 

1. Clyde Stubblefied


Recommended Albums:

In the Jungle Groove (James Brown)

I Got the Feelin’ (James Brown)

The Original Funky Drummer Breakbeat Album

 

 

2. Mike Clark


Recommended Albums:

Thrust (Herbie Hancock)

Heritage (Eddie Henderson)

The Funk Stops Here (Mike Clark & Paul Jackson)

 

 

3. Zigaboo Modeliste


Recommended Albums:

Cissy Strut (The Meters)

Struttin’ (The Meters)

I’m on the Right Track (Zigaboo Modeliste)

 

 

4. Stanton Moore


Recommended Albums:

Flyin’ the Koop (Stanton Moore)

All Kooked Out (Stanton Moore)

The Other Side of Midnight (Galactic)

 

 

5. David Garibaldi


Recommended Albums:

Back to Oakland (Tower of Power)

East Bay Grease (Tower of Power)

Soul Vaccination (Tower of Power)

 

 

R&B/Hip Hop

 

1. Chris Dave


Recommended Albums:

Black Messiah (D’Angelo)

Chris Dave and the Drumhedz

Double Booked (Robert Glasper)

 

 

2. Steve Jordan


Recommended Albums:

Continuum (John Mayer)

Try (John Mayer)

Made In America (Blues Brothers)

 

 

3. Adam Deitch


Recommended Albums:

Uberjam (John Scofield)

Up All Night (John Scofield)

Tonight (Average White Band)

 

 

4. Karreem Riggins


Recommended Albums:

The Evolution of Oneself (Orrin Evans)

Emily’s D+Evolution (Esperanza Spalding)

Welcome 2 Detroit (J Dilla)

 

 

5. Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson


Recommended Albums:

Voodoo (D’Angelo)

How I Got Over (The Roots)

Phrenology (The Roots)

 

 

World Drumming

 

1. Dafnis Prieto


Recommended Albums:

About the Monks (Dafnis Prieto)

Absolute Quintet (Dafnis Prieto)

Taking the Soul for a Walk (Dafnis Prieto)

 

 

2. Ignacio Berroa


Recommended Albums:

Heritage and Passion (Ignacio Berroa)

Worldwide (Giovanni Hidalgo)

Supernova (Gonzalo Rubalcaba)

 

 

3. Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez


Recommended Albums:

Habana (Roy Hargrove)

Thru My Eyes (Michel Camilo)

El Negro and Robby at The Third World War (H. Hernandez, R. Ameen)

 

 

4. Airto Moreira


Recommended Albums:

Live at the Fillmore East (Miles Davis)

Weather Report (Weather Report)

 

 

5. Trilok Gurtu


Recommended Albums:

Arkeology

The Glimpse

 

 

Solo Drums

 

1. Terry Bozzio


Recommended Albums:

Solo Drum Music

Melodic Drumming

 

 

2. Ari Hoenig


Recommended Albums:

The Life of a Day

Time Travels

 

 

3. Dan Weiss


Recommended Albums:

Tintal Drumset Solos

Jhaptal Drumset Solos

 

 

4. Nate Smith


Recommended Album:

Pocket Change

 

 

5. Billy Martin


Recommended Album

illy B Eats Vol.1 Groove Bang and Jive Around

 

 

---

by: Brandon Goodwin    
Montreal, QC, Canada    

 

 

Brandon Goodwin Bio

Brandon has worked with renowned jazz musicians such as Braxton Cook, Grammy-award winning artists Delfeayo Marsalis, and Kebbi Williams, as well as some of Canada’s top talent, including Fraser Hollins, Al McLean, and Samuel Blais.

Brandon has studied with some of Canada’s top drummers, including, Nasyr Abdul Al-Kabyr (Dizzy Gillespie), Dave Laing, and Dave Robbins, and has also studied privately with internationally acclaimed drummers Ari Hoenig, Dafnis Prieto and Dan Weiss.  

He has taught masterclasses at high schools and universities in Canada and the U.S. and is the owner/principal operator of Studio Drum MTL. Based out of Verdun QC, Brandon services Greater Montreal, Lasalle, Lachine, NDG, Westmount, and Cote St Luc with his high quality drum lessons.  

www.studiodrummontreal.com 

Brandon’s group B’s Bees has performed concerts in North America and in Asia, at major jazz festivals and in some of the best jazz clubs in the world. The group has also performed masterclasses at high schools and in universities in Canada, the U.S. and in Asia. 

www.bs-bees.com

 

______________________________________________________________ 

 

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4 comments

  • Musse Mekonen
    Musse Mekonen A.A Ethiopian
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    Thanks, it helps me to focus on something specific...

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    Nensela New York
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  • Park Nom
    Park Nom Oslo
    Love it

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  • Neil
    Neil Montreal
    Very interesting list! So many observations to make, so I will start with your suggestions for studio legend Jeff Porcaro. He needs at LEAST four albums rather than three, so here is what I pick: 1) Skip Nightfly. It features Porcaro on only half of the tracks (Green Flower Street, Ruby Baby, The Nightfly, The Goodbye Look), although the other drummers are also top session players (James Gadson, Ed Greene, Steve Jordan). The main issue I have with Nightfly is that Donald Fagen/Steely Dan became obsessed with their drummers being timekeepers first and foremost (they were pioneers of the drum machine), and so despite all of the top talent Nightfly I do not consider it a particularly interesting album from a drumming standpoint. If you have to pick one Steely Dan album it should be Katy Lied, where Porcaro (only 20) got to play a broader range of grooves and stretch out a bit more. But my favourite Porcaro track for Steely Dan is Night by Night, from their prior album, Pretzel Logic. Could he really be 19 with feel like that??? 2) Skip Thriller. It is one of the biggest albums of all time, but there albums where Porcaro is given a much greater opportunity to add to the pop mix. You must check out Energy, by The Pointer Sisters (Porcaro plays on most tracks, but ironically not the Steely Dan cover). So many killer grooves. As just one example, on Hypnotized he spends most of the track just playing a simple beat with metronomic precision, but just feel that pocket created by the precise dynamics of of the high hat and kick. Hypnotic! 3) Porcaro was the consummate session player, willing to do anything to find the perfect groove for the track without stealing the spotlight. Some good examples would be The Pretender, by Jackson Browne, and Welcome Back, by John Sebastian; Porcaro's drumming is never overbearing but adds so much. However, he takes a slightly more prominent role on Toto albums (as you might expect) and Toto IV is required listening, particularly for the grooves in Rosanna, Africa, etc. So we agree on that one! 4) If you only listen to those albums, you will appreciate Porcaro's subtlety, but underestimate his chops. The cat could flat out PLAY. Listen to his work on one of the instrumental albums he played on, like Earmeal by Janne Schaffer, or Les Dudek's self-titled album. Wow, is there some good drumming on there. Another option would be Larry Carlton's largely instrumental self-titled album (before Carlton went full muzak). Thanks for compiling these lists! I am still working my way through them.

    Very interesting list! So many observations to make, so I will start with your suggestions for studio legend Jeff Porcaro. He needs at LEAST four albums rather than three, so here is what I pick:

    1) Skip Nightfly. It features Porcaro on only half of the tracks (Green Flower Street, Ruby Baby, The Nightfly, The Goodbye Look), although the other drummers are also top session players (James Gadson, Ed Greene, Steve Jordan). The main issue I have with Nightfly is that Donald Fagen/Steely Dan became obsessed with their drummers being timekeepers first and foremost (they were pioneers of the drum machine), and so despite all of the top talent Nightfly I do not consider it a particularly interesting album from a drumming standpoint. If you have to pick one Steely Dan album it should be Katy Lied, where Porcaro (only 20) got to play a broader range of grooves and stretch out a bit more. But my favourite Porcaro track for Steely Dan is Night by Night, from their prior album, Pretzel Logic. Could he really be 19 with feel like that???

    2) Skip Thriller. It is one of the biggest albums of all time, but there albums where Porcaro is given a much greater opportunity to add to the pop mix. You must check out Energy, by The Pointer Sisters (Porcaro plays on most tracks, but ironically not the Steely Dan cover). So many killer grooves. As just one example, on Hypnotized he spends most of the track just playing a simple beat with metronomic precision, but just feel that pocket created by the precise dynamics of of the high hat and kick. Hypnotic!

    3) Porcaro was the consummate session player, willing to do anything to find the perfect groove for the track without stealing the spotlight. Some good examples would be The Pretender, by Jackson Browne, and Welcome Back, by John Sebastian; Porcaro's drumming is never overbearing but adds so much. However, he takes a slightly more prominent role on Toto albums (as you might expect) and Toto IV is required listening, particularly for the grooves in Rosanna, Africa, etc. So we agree on that one!

    4) If you only listen to those albums, you will appreciate Porcaro's subtlety, but underestimate his chops. The cat could flat out PLAY. Listen to his work on one of the instrumental albums he played on, like Earmeal by Janne Schaffer, or Les Dudek's self-titled album. Wow, is there some good drumming on there. Another option would be Larry Carlton's largely instrumental self-titled album (before Carlton went full muzak).

    Thanks for compiling these lists! I am still working my way through them.

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