Transcription. When anyone asks me how to learn more about ‘twenties jazz drumming, I always say it comes down to three things: transcription, transcription, transcription. It doesn’t have to be on posh music-notation software, it could be with pencil on manuscript paper, or even (with the right discipline), in your head. What matters is listening – REALLY listening – to what’s going on, and trying to get as close as you can to it.
Money-where-mouth-is time: here’s a transcription of mine from a few years ago, of good old Zutty playing with Jelly Roll Morton’s trio in 1929, free and gratis. You can hear the original record here.
[NB: Whenever a cymbal is marked, it’s a medium-sized Turkish-style cymbal (what these days would be called a ‘crash’) unless otherwise marked. Zutty used neither hi-hat nor ride cymbal.]