I am spending an increasing amount of time on my jazz playing and developing the ability to play softly. My rocknroll side is appalled at this but my inner Brian Blade is egging me on. One approach is learning to play with proper French grip which I just started working on with my teacher. The beginning of the journey is a bunch of odd exercises that came from Freddie Gruber.
I’ve also been working on holding my sticks further up and playing very small strokes with my normal German/American grip. I’m practicing jazz vocabulary, Bob Moses’ resolution points exercise as well as playing Samba/Bossa and funky grooves all at very low dynamics. It’s a great skill to have, especially since I play in very small venues whenever I do a gig these days.
I particularly like this video by Max Sansalone about playing softly with intensity:
And here’s another, a chap called Kris Redus, showing how to approach it by cradling the sticks French grip stylee. (He seems to have a similar ummm-aaaaah problem to me when making videos.)
I’ll try to make a video about my exploration of the topic in the not too distant future.