Educator And Clinician

Big Band Drumming: What (and What Not) to Play

By Joe McCarthy
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Joe McCarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume 2

Joe McCarthy's Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume 2
In Joe McCarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume 2 (released by Alfred Music) Grammy® Award-winning drummer & educator Joe McCarthy takes you beyond the printed page of his best-selling book of the same name by demonstrating and explaining the artistry of this popular musical genre. His innovative teaching concepts in Volume II target groove development and chart interpretation. Three groundbreaking new tunes from UNA MÁS will be played and analyzed, complete with demonstrations and multiple camera angles allowing you to see his multi-level playing on one screen. A bonus section entitled “Stylistic Coordination” provides you with a series of exercises to develop groove, coordination, consistency, balance, and concentration.

Click here to see the trailer.

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Joe McCarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume 1

Joe McCarthy's Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series, Volume 1
The Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along DVD gives the drummer/percussionist an opportunity to play contemporary Afro-Cuban music in a big band setting. Playing tunes from the Latin Grammy-winning group Afro-Bop Alliance, drummer Joe McCarthy focuses on three of the predominant groove categories of mainstream Afro-Cuban music: mambo, cha-cha-cha and 6/8 Afro-Cuban. State-of-the-art camera work gives an in-depth look at Joe’s multi-level approach to playing these exciting rhythms, while his focused, straight-ahead concepts take the mystery out of applying these grooves to the music of today. The DVD features play-along tracks (minus the drums), an E-book containing the complete charts and examples demonstrated on the DVD, and bonus tracks of additional tunes from Afro-Bop Alliance.

Watch the trailer | Examples From The DVD

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Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Book and CD

Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Book and CD
This play-along book and CD gives the drummer an opportunity to play contemporary Afro-Cuban music in a big band setting. Containing 6 tracks from the 2008 Grammy award winning Afro Bop Alliance CD, Joe analyzes each tune and provides charts, transcriptions and play-along tracks minus drums.

Download Samples from the Book:


Soul Sauce

Afro Green

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Reviews Of Joe McCarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series

Big Band Play-Along Series DVD Volume II named “Best educational DVD”
– Zildjian Readers Poll

“What a kick watching Joe McCarthy blaze through complex Afro-Cuban big band jazz numbers with ergonomic perfection. He’s so sweat free and centered, it’s like he’s relaxin’ with some café con leche. McCarthy plays to tracks from his exciting Latin Grammy Award-winning CD, Afro-Bop Alliance, and discusses his grooves and his approach to the charts.”
-Jeff Potter
Modern Drummer

(volume 2) “Discussing skills development, McCarthy sites “concentration” as an additional “limb” that requires equal exercise. And, man, this drummer’s fifth limb is muscle-bound. McCarthy’s astonishing independence and disciplined groove focus are a thrill to behold. Showcasing his modern Afro-Cuban jazz big band drumming, on this release McCarthy focuses on groove development and chart interpretation.”
-Jeff Potter
Modern Drummer

“Joe McCarthy’s Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along is the state of the art: clear textual explanations, a variety of styles and tempos, and a great big band to play with.”
Professor Ed Soph
College of Music
University of North Texas

“Joe McCarthy’s book……….fills a void that we as drummers have been missing for a long time. Finally, a book of Big Band charts in the great Afro-Cuban style that offers us a chance to hone our chart interpretation skills and our Afro Cuban skill at the same time. The charts are extremely well written and easy to follow and the music is 100% authentic! If you love Big band and you love Afro-Cuban, this book is for you!”
John Ramsay
Percussion Department
Berklee College of Music

“Congratulations to Joe McCarthy. His Afro-Cuban big band “play along” charts help fill a void in this genre of big band drumming. The tracks with and without drums are a big plus. Joe has taken the time to provide an analysis and explanation of the drumest grooves used in each track which will help any drummer at any level in the interpretation of these challenging charts. I will recommend them to all my students.”
Victor Rendón
Grupo Latin Vibe, Blue Mambo
Lehman College, Bronx, NY
Author of “The Art of Playing Timbales”

“Joe’s book is a must-have for all drum teachers and students who are interested in Cuban drumming. The play-a-long recordings (all done live) have a wide variety of grooves and the charts are just like the pros use. This is an excellent way to get some hands on practice for the mid-level and advanced player. I highly recommend it.”
Mark Kelso
Professor of Percussion
Humber College.

“Joe McCarthy’s new book “Afro-Cuban Big Band Play-Along,” and the accompanying video demos on his website, address areas every drummer wants to excel in. The material is great, Joe’s explanations and playing are thoughtful and clear and the play-along tracks are a blast to work with. Check it out.”
John Riley
World renowned drummer, author, and educator

Bonus Educational Articles By Joe McCarthy

I will periodically post educational articles here. Please feel free to download, and share them with your colleagues. I hope that you find them helpful.

  1. Part 1: Action Figures
  2. Part 2: Play Maker
  3. Play Maker (Part 2) Continued
  4. Developing the 6/8 Afro-Cuban Feel

About Joe McCarthy, Educator And Clinician

Joe McCarthy has been actively involved with education throughout his career. He has been teaching on the collegiate level since 1992, upon graduating from the University of North Texas with a Masters in Percussion Performance. Joe has held positions at Texas Wesleyan University and Delaware State University. He currently holds adjunct appointments at Georgetown University, George Mason University and Washington College. Active as a clinician sponsored by Yamaha, Vic Firth, Zildjian, Remo and Latin Percussion, Joe has been a featured performer and clinician at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention PASIC (3 times), Jazz Educators Network International Convention JEN (2 times), numerous PAS Days of Percussion, MusicFest Canada (2 times), The National Jazz Workshop (faculty member), George Mason Univerisity Summer Jazz and Percussion Seminars (faculty member), The Jazz n Youth Exchange of Germany (faculty member), and many others. Joe has been featured at many of the nations top collegiate music institutions and festivals, in addition to numerous high school jazz festivals as a guest soloist, clinician and adjudicator.

Joe is published by Alfred music with “Joe McCarthy’s Afro Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series”, which includes a book/CD play-along and Vol I-II DVDS. This series has received rave reviews worldwide and is part of the curriculum at The University of North Texas, University of Miami, Berklee School of Music, Humber College and many others. Joe also educational series featured on the websites of Vic Firth, Zildjian and Alfred Music.

Joe has just completed a 20 twenty year tour with The United States Naval Academy Band, where he served as principal percussionist with the wind ensemble and Chief in Charge/drummer of the Next Wave Jazz Ensemble, one of the Navy’s two premier big bands. As director of the Next Wave, Joe focused on education through performances/clinics with the band, as well as commissioning composers to write new works for large jazz ensemble. The band recorded new works by Jim McNeely, Vince Norman, Dave Samuels and Shawn Purcell.

Joe has also designed his own signature drumstick for Vic Firth.

Schools where Joe has been featured:
University of North Texas
University of Miami
Berklee College of Music
University of Texas Arlington
University of Central Florida
University of South Florida
Florida Atlantic University
Hartt School of Music
George Mason University
Georgetown University
University of Maryland
Washington College
University of North Carolina Charlotte
University of New Mexico
Musicians Institute
Western Connecticut State University

Joe McCarthy Teaching Videos

Watch all of Joe’s Educational Videos created for Vic Firth!