In this lesson we will take a look at how to properly play a jump-swing drum pattern. Jump-swing is another common rhythm and blues pattern that can cross over to other genres such as rockabilly, Texas swing and boogie-woogie. This pattern also crosses state lines with the music of Louis Jordan (Arkansas), Ruth Brown (Virginia/Washington D.C.), Big Joe Turner (Kansas City, Missouri), Asleep at the Wheel (Texas via West Virginia) and Brian Setzer (New York).

Similar to many rootsy grooves, the jump-swing pattern has a seemingly endless array of varieties. With this in mind this lesson will focus on one specific pattern that serves as a default setting for this style.

Ex. 1

Starting with the ride cymbal or hi-hat, play a standard jazz “spang-a-lang” pattern (Ex. 1). There should be little to no variation within this pattern, although simplifying it down to quarter-note on every beat is certainly acceptable at times.


The snare drum essentially plays a backbeat on 2 and 4. Next, a grace note is added on every upbeat creating a three note recurring pattern starting on the & of beat 1 and the & of beat 3 (Ex. 2). Notice that the hands line up playing two eighth-notes on the downbeats of 2 and 4. Once that is in place, the hi-hat with the foot should be added on beats 2 and 4.

Ex. 2

Finally, the default bass drum pattern should be four-on-the-floor with a consistently even sound (Ex. 3). Avoid playing the bass drum too heavily as this can bog the groove down. This is a great opportunity to work on heel-down playing as your body will be more relaxed, allowing the groove the flow.

Ex. 3


Jump Swing Playlist:

  1. “Up and Down East Street” (Maceo Parker, Roots Revisited, Bill Stewart on drums)
  2. “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” (Asleep at the Wheel, Miles and Miles of Texas, drummer not credited)
  3. “Ignition” (Brian Setzer, Ignition!, Bernie Dresel on drums)
  4. “Sugar Boogie” (Marcia Ball, Roadside Attractions, Damien Llanes or Lynn 
Williams on drums)