Play Along Book/CD by Gaetano NicolosiREVIEW

This new book/CD by Gaetano Nicolosi is a collection of 6 Rock oriented songs from Gaetano’s band, Iron Horse. The book contains original drum transcriptions, as well as 3 more versions of charts to facilitate the learning process gradually, starting wtih an easy-read drum chart, to the original drum chart. The CD contains the play-along tracks (without drums) of course, but you also get to hear the same 6 tracks with drums ... and Gaetano is in the driver's seat.

I've personally worked with a lot of play-along materials, and I must say that Gaetano has gone the extra mile with this book.

After the book's introduction, Gaetano does a nice job explaining how the player should practice and use this book/CD. He takes time to share his philosophy on practicing a new song, including developing the groove, fills and musical expressions. Besides the drum charts (more on that later), there's a page of "terms and definitions" plus a key (aka legend) which explains the notation that Gaetano used in the book. The drum notation key is important since there is not an exact standard when it comes to notation for the drumset. This is largely due to the fact that a drumset is comprised of a wide variety of instruments, all grouped together to make one large instrument ... the drumkit. Every set-up is different, therefore notation for that drumset is going to be slightly different. The notation Gaetano uses, however, IS becoming a standard through the vehicle of popularity and use. An added bonus is that the book provides you a diagram of Gaetano's set-up, so you can see how his notation works with his drum/cymbal set-up.

Now, about those drum charts. One of the innovative things about THIS drum play-along material is that you don't just get one chart per song, rather FOUR charts for EACH song! Wow! The four charts for each of the six songs are as follows: Level 1, Level 2, Road Map and Original Transcription. The "original transcription" chart is just that, a transcription of what Gaetano played on the record, note for note, which is great for sight-reading and allows you to SEE exactly what you are hearing on the tracks with drums. The Road Map chart is another name for rhythm chart which outlines the basic form or structure of the tune, plus gives cues for all the ensemble figures and important "hits". Rhythm charts are nice when you want to come up with your own grooves, beats and styles, but yet need to be able to play a tune all the way through. Session drummers, if they get anything at all from an arranger, will get a rhythm chart or lead sheet while cutting drum tracks in the studio. What want to learn to be a studio drummer? You need this play-along package! The Level 1 chart is perfect for beginners and/or seasoned players that are not used to reading drum charts. The rhythms and grooves have been simplified, allowing the drummer to get through the song without having to read/play a lot of notes. The Level 2 chart is a step up from Level 1 in that the grooves, fills and rhythmic figures that appear on the page require a bit more technique, coordination and reading skills.

When you look at Play-along with IRON HORSE you can see that author Gaetano Nicolosi is a true educator. He's spent a lot of time listening to the needs of his own students and the drumming community, and has now provided a tool for drummers to further their musicial journey and growth. I highly recommend this drum play-along Book/CD to students, drum instructors and educators.

Be sure to check out Bart's review on Gaetano's other two books, READING RHYTHMS in Simple Time Signatures.