Recommended Listening for Drummers

I’m often asked by young budding drummers “What CD’s should I listen to?” and of course the answer is “Anything and everything!”. It’s so subjective and even top drummers wouldn’t be able to agree on a definitive ‘Top 10’ list of music all drummers should listen to.

Listen to what inspires you. Listen to what makes you happy. BUT that said, some top drummers have given their take on what inspired them over the years and through the magic of Spotify it’s now so easy to listen to all this great music, NOW! So here’s a list with Spotify links where possible:-

The Art of Bop Drumming (John Riley)

The Art of Bop DrummingIn this essential drummers’ book John recommends 6 CD’s to get you started on your bebop jazz journey. If you’re not into jazz some of this might be a bit heavy, but the music listed here is genuinely masterful. Have a listen – you can open the Spotify playlist directly from here.

  • Clifford Brown & Max Roach – Clifford Brown & Max Roach
  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’
  • Roy Haynes – We Three
  • Miles Davis – Milestones
  • Art Pepper – Art Pepper + Eleven
  • Thelonious Monk – Monks Dream

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Gavin Harrison’s 10 Essential Drum Albums

Gavin Harrison 10 Essential Drum AlbumsIn the Music Radar / Rhythm feature Gavin Harrison picks out 10 essential drum albums. As Gavin points out, this isn’t just about great drumming, it’s also about great music. Not all of his picks are on Spotify but I’ve done my best to find the closest match where possible. You can open the Spotify playlist directly from here.

  • 1.  Patrick Williams – Threshold (1973)
  • 2.  Art Farmer – Crawl Space (1977)
  • 3.  Earth Wind & Fire – All ‘n All (1977), The Best of Vol.1 (1978), I Am (1979)
  • 4.  Art Farmer / Jim Hall – Big Blues (1978)
  • 5.  Jeff Beck – There & Back (1980)
  • 6.  Japan – Tin Drum (1981)
  • 7.  Randy Crawford – Secret Combination (1981) & Windsong (1982)
  • 8.  Allan Holdsworth – Secrets (1989)
  • 9.  The Blue Nile – Hats (1989)
  • 10.  Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999)

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Drums for Dummies (Jeff Strong)

Drums for DummiesFinally for now, in Drums for Dummies (which is a surprisingly good book!) Jeff lists ‘Ten Drummers You Should Know About’. He describes it as being a tough chapter to write and I don’t envy the task he had here! The list is an eclectic mix and certainly worthy of a listen. Jeff mentions that “…each have done something that changed the way we think of drumming.”. Here’s his list:-

  • Airto
  • Terry Bozzio
  • Candido Camero
  • Sheila E.
  • Steve Gadd
  • Evelyn Glennie
  • Trilok Gurtu
  • Tito Puente
  • Max Roach
  • Ringo Starr


It’s so easy now to listen great music and there’s enough stuff listed on this page to keep you occupied for some time! Buy the books, look up the drummers on Wiki, check out their discography on Spotify, have fun and make up your own lists! Although I started a ‘Top 10 Drummers Albums’ list of my own and it’s just too difficult. I’m up to 17 albums in the top 10 so far and found I started actually having arguments with myself. Here’s my take on it all – enjoy!

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