Letting the music breathe
Music is all about timing. It's not just about the notes you play, it's about when you play them. The key to timing is leaving space in your playing, because space lets the music breathe.
In an earlier post I talked about how successful drumming was similar to successful speaking. In that case I was talking about dynamics, but the same can be said of leaving space. Leaving space between words or phrases when you are speaking emphasizes what you are saying. Similarly, leaving space in music emphasizes what you are playing.
Leaving space in your drumming
Unfortunately because the drums do not require air to support them, very often drummers forget to let the music breathe. They instead try to cram the music with as many fast notes as possible. This is understandable, particularly in an open solo where you feel tremendous pressure to fill the space left to you. But in the words of one of my favorite authors "A joke isn't any funnier for being told faster".
The following is an example of me playing an open solo at the start of "A Night In Tunisia" using a lot of space. Unfortunately the sounds clips quite a bit, but I think the point still comes across.
This is from a Levine (the school that I teach at) concert. For those of you interested in learning more about Levine check out the website.