Bernard "Pretty" Purdie in Master Class and Concert

Mr. Groove Teaches and Entertains

Bernard Purdie addresses his Master Class
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie addresses the Master Class
(Photo by Linda Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

In the late sixties and early seventies Bernard Purdie and "Funk" were, to me, one and the same. I'm sure he has been the model for most of the funk players who followed. Over the years, Bernard has appeared on thousands of records, earning him the title of the "World's Most Recorded Drummer."

On November 16, 2002, I was fortunate enough to be able to cover one of his Master Classes, which was followed by a concert. This double-header event (held at the ultra cool Daress Theater in Boonton, NJ) was put together by Pat Clark, who is also a drummer and the owner/operator of the "Drummers Corner" drum shop located on Main Street in Boonton.

I realized that the only way I could give you Drumheads the feeling of being at a Purdie Master Class/Concert was to include some audio and video among the usual still photos, which is usually a no-no with many artists. However, Bernard was nice enough to allow me to capture audio and video clips of the event and so I pulled out all the stops and brought my trustly notepad and video camera, and I brought along another "Tiger" to handle the still shots.

It turned out to be a terrific day, thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended the Master Class and the concert that followed. So here, in text, pictures, audio and video, is an overview of what takes place at a Bernard Purdie Master Class and Concert. If you ever have the chance to attend one yourself, don't miss it.

Master Class... Taught by a Master
Bernard opened up the class with the voice of experience, as he spoke about the drummer's role in the band, the business of drumming, the constant pressure that's always on the latest "top gun," and more. Listen to Audio Clip #1.

Click to hear excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master ClassAudio Clip #1: Click for Streaming Audio excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master Class.
(Requires RealPlayer. Don't have it? Download it free.)
(Audio by Bill Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

Bernard Purdie teaches the fine art of Groove
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie Teaches the Fine Art of Groove
(Photo by Linda Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

Bernard held a question and answer session next and then demonstrated some of his specialities: Including New Orleans March Style, Funk, and his famous "Purdie Shuffle." You'll hear it all in the following audio clip #2. Note that the master class was held in the Daress Theater, which is a large concert hall and Bernard had four Basix drum sets set up across the stage so that each of the students in the Master Class could take turns playing along with him as he demonstrated the rhythms. If you listen closely, you'll hear the students joining in toward the end of the New Orleans March beat segment.

Click to hear excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master ClassAudio Clip #2: Click for Streaming Audio excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master Class.
(Requires RealPlayer. Don't have it? Download it free.)
(Audio by Bill Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

All good things must come to an end and, although the students were sorry to see the class end, they picked up a lot of valuable information. And the day was long from over, as the concert was coming up next.

Bernard wrapped up the class by demonstrating all of the rhythms the students learned earlier, in an 8 minute solo that he started with his New Orleans March style, then transitioned into Funk, the Purdie Shuffle, a tom-tom beat, back into funk, and concluding with the Purdie Shuffle.

Throughout the Master Class, I had the feeling that everything Bernard played, he played for the benefit of those in the class. His top priority is the education of his students and not simply a "showoff" session. Many so-called "clinicians" would do well to take this lesson from Bernard.

Here's an audio clip from the conclusion of the class. It's a bit hard to hear Bernard at the end, but he is reminding the students to bring their tape recorders to the class next time. That goes back to the beginning of the Master Class where Bernard asked everyone if they had a tape recorder with them. No one did. It was then that Bernard recommended that they always tape a Master Class and if there were any Master Classes that didn't allow tape recording, that was a Master Class that nobody need attend. That's another lesson that so-called "clinicians" could learn from Bernard. Here are some final things Bernard had to say to his class:

Click to hear excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master ClassAudio Clip #3: Click for Streaming Audio excerpts from Bernard Purdie's Master Class.
(Requires RealPlayer. Don't have it? Download it free.)
(Audio by Bill Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

Technically, that ended the Master Class. However, the concert itself turned out to be an extension of the Master Class. Check it out.

The Concert
While the stage was being setup for the bands to perform, Bernard gave away plenty of prizes thanks to his sponsors, which included Basix drums, Cappella Sticks, Sabian Cymbals, Pat Clark (owner of the Drummers Corner), and Bernard's own Purdie Good Company.

Total Recall, Pat Clark's band, was first up and got the audience going with a number of classic rock hits.

Total Recall with Pat Clark on drums
Total Recall with Pat Clark on drums
(Photo by Bill Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

Next up, was the band that Bernard calls the number one band in the world: Rob Paparozzi & The Hudson River Rats. Leader Rob Paparozzi, on vocal and harmonica, has been called the greatest harmonica player in the world and once you hear him play, you won't wonder why. (He is also one of the original "Blues Brothers." For more on Rob & The Hudson River Rats, check out his Web site in the Sidebar on this page.)

Before Bernard began to play with the Hudson River Rats, he told the audience the story of how they first met and got together. It seems Bernard was sitting in a club listening to Rob and his band one night when he found that he couldn't sit still. All he wanted to do was get up and jam with the band. He sat in and wound up playing with the band for the rest of the night! Believe me, I know how Bernard felt because I felt exactly the same way while listening to the Hudson River Rats. All I wanted to do was sit in and play. Funk and blues are my weakness! And these guys really, really cook! But you don't have to trust me, check out the video clips for yourself. (Note: The video clips below require Windows Media Player, which is normally installed with the Windows OS or you can download a free copy here.)

All Video Clips below feature Bernard Purdie with Rob Paparozzi & The Hudson River Rats (George Naha on Guitar, Ed Alstrom on Organ & left hand Bass.)

Video Clip #1: Blues Shuffle

Video Clip #2: Slow Funk

Video Clip #3: Triplet Blues Ballad

Video Clip #4: New Orleans/Funk

(Video by Bill Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

The Closer
For the grand finale of the show, Bernard asked the band Total Recall to come back onstage along with any of the drummers who were at the Master Class that afternoon and Bernard, The Hudson River Rats, Total Recall, and a Master Class drummer rocked the audience home with one final number.

Bernard Purdie with Rob Paparozzi & The Hudson River Rats
Bernard performs with Rob Paparozzi & The Hudson River Rats From left to right: Rob Paparozzi, George Naha, Bernard Purdie, and Ed Alstrom.
(Photo by Linda Meligari www.TigerBill.com)

The perfect end to a perfect day!

Thanks to Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Rob Paparozzi, & The Hudson River Rats for for allowing us to photograph and film the proceedings. Thanks also to Pat Clark.

Until next time: Stay Loose.



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