Give The Drummer Some: The Instruments Of Jaki Liebezeit

In an exclusive extract from his new book, Jaki Liebezeit: Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer, Jono Podmore takes us through the instruments that contributed to the former Can drummer's unique sound and playing style

Jaki Liebezeit: Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer is the new book edited by Jono Podmore dedicated to the German drummer who went from a sideman to free jazz pioneer Manfred Schoof to become a key member of seminal psychedelic group Can. In later life, Liebezeit collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno, Jah Wobble, Philip Jeck, and Burnt Friedman. He sadly passed away in January 2017.

At just a notch over 300 pages, the book promises the first comprehensive guide to Liebezeit’s E-T theory of percussion, a "a complete practical theory of drumming", a system the drummer always intended to write down himself – "when he was too old to play the drums". Since he was still hitting the skins up to two weeks before he died, the task has been left to friends and collaborators. Along with Podmore (who himself performs under the name Kumo), the book features contributions from Burnt Friedman, discographer Bryan O’Connell, journalist John Payne, as well as current and former members of Leibezeit’s drum group Drums off Chaos, Reiner Linke, Maf Retter, Gero Sprafke, and Manos Tsangaris.

In the following extract – and over the succeeding pages – Podmore takes us through the tools of Liebezeit’s trade, the various drums and objects that made up his instrumentarium, from a tabla to a tape machine. All photos are by Jono Podmore and Birgit Berger. Jaki Liebezeit: Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer is published by Unbound Books.

Jaki’s attitude to his equipment was as idiosyncratic and specialised as his playing. The overarching nature of his theoretical work was borne out through his approach to and modifications of the instruments themselves. At times this went as far as making instruments from scratch.

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