The Chick Corea & Steve Gadd Band Chinese Butterfly
Two iconic instrumentalists reunite, striding further.
In a highly anticipated reunion, keyboardist Chick Corea and STEVE GADD co-lead a top-flight band in a mix of electric and acoustic jazz excursions with echoes of their mid-’70s brotherhood. Corea crafted most of the double disc’s original compositions with Gadd in mind, making it a dynamic showcase for the myriad things the master groover does oh so well. There’s pocket funk (“Chick’s Chums”), swinging interaction (“Like I Was Sayin’”), percolating Afro-inflected grooves (“Wake-Up Call”), Latin colorings (“A Spanish Song”), and imaginative kit orchestrations (“Chinese Butterfly”). And, of course, we’re treated to several killer drum solos over vamps. Sidemen Steve Wilson (sax/flute), Lionel Loueke (guitar/vocals), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), and Luisito Quintero (percussion) are consummate throughout.
Disc two, featuring three long-form numbers, is where the heat maxes. A remake of Corea’s classic “Return to Forever” is a highlight. The Gadd/Quintero team approaches it with more “danceable” pattern-groove muscle than heard on the (also fabulous) original. When they kick into Afro-Latin territory, spurring on Wilson’s soprano solo, it’s utterly volcanic. Another must-have in the prolific Gadd canon. (Concord Jazz) Jeff Potter
Arturo O’Farrill and Chucho Valdés Familia: Tribute to Bebo + Chico
Rhythm reigns in this heartfelt multigenerational celebration of family and musical heritage.
Familia indeed. Two titans of Afro-Cuban jazz, pianist/composers Arturo O’Farrill and Chucho Valdés, join forces to honor their late fathers, Chico O’Farrill and Bebo Valdés, both pioneers of that musical heritage. Even better, they’ve brought their talented offspring along: pianist Leyanis Valdés, drummer JESSIE VALDÉS, trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, and drummer ZACK O’FARRILL. The compositions draw from all three generations. Disc one features Arturo’s fabulous Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, bolstered by the dual pianists. Resident ALJO drummer VINCE CHERICO presides with finesse, kicking off the set with a percolating Haitian merengue groove. Disc two highlights the younger generation in smaller band settings. Both drummers turn in inspired performances. Zack delivers edgy, multilayered propulsion on his harmonically adventurous composition “Gonki Gonki,” while Jessie’s drum solo expertly builds urgent waves on his lovely tune “Recuerdo.” Their probing jazz/Latin explorations honor both tradition and the progressive. The future is secure. (Motéma) Jeff Potter
Good Tiger We Will All Be Gone
The transatlantic progressive quintet flexes considerable songwriting muscle on its highly anticipated second album.
We Will All Be Gone beautifully captures YouTube sensation turned legitimate genre-defining force ALEX RÜDINGER’s rock-solid performance across ten dense tracks. Ably coproduced by GetGood Drums creator Adam “Nolly” Getgood and Australian progressive go-to Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Skyharbor, Dead Letter Circus), the album showcases vocalist Elliot Coleman’s now completely clean contributions as well as the instrumental mastery that fans have come to expect from the band. Rüdinger’s blazing hi-hat groove in the verse of opener “The Devil Thinks I’m Sinking,” muscular tom pattern and signature triplet fills on “Float On,” and passionate bashing on closer “I’ll Finish This Book Later” shine through on this decidedly song-oriented collection. (Blacklight Media) Ben Meyer
Quartet NL Herman Beets Bennink Jacobs
Pushing the envelope with serious fun.
At first glance this would appear to be another jazz quartet album. But any time the Dutch drummer HAN BENNINK shows up, the resulting music has an immediacy and sense of play that few other projects can match. Still active in his seventies, Bennink is a legend in the free-jazz world, noted for creativity and a sense of fun both on and off the kit. First formed in 2013, the group here is special as it draws on two musical generations, with elders Bennink and bassist Ruud Jacobs meeting pianist Peter Beets and saxophonist Benjamin Herman. Tackling compositions of another Dutch icon, Misha Mengelberg, the group embraces past and present, playing in a fresh, adventurous way. A blending of both straight and avant-garde jazz approaches ensues, with great results. Bennink plays straight brush time on the opening tune, with lots of drive and momentum, and then edges things out just so slightly, before pulling back in. Bennink is a master at setting things slightly off-kilter and creating cubist abstraction while staying within the lines. Once again, he proves himself a propulsive, adventurous drummer whose playing is musical, immediate, and sincere. (ICP) Martin Patmos
TAKING THE REINS
Pronounce the last name however you like; Carmine and Vinny Appice are rock drumming legends with a who’s who list of credentials spanning half a century.
On Sinister, brothers Carmine (age seventy-one) and Vinny (sixty) Appice finally join forces, in an ’80s-style melodic power-metal format featuring a host of guests from both of their distinguished careers. The kits are panned left and right, and if you’re familiar with both drummers, it’s easy to hear the stylistic differences and trademark licks that define them. The excellent drum mix blends the pair’s heavy-pocket grooves seamlessly to create a unique double drumming DNA showcasing the classic Appice family feel. Carmine adds lead vocals to “You Got Me Running,” the two battle it out on “Drum Wars,” and the lyrically biographical “Bros in Drums” details how Vinny followed in his big brother’s footsteps. A very cool “Sabbath Mash” mashup closes this family affair and reaffirms the Appice legacy in rock history. (SPV/Steamhammer) Mike Haid
Mark Heaney Fortunes
The former Gang of Four/Shining drummer stretches beyond traditional rock song structures and explores the outer limits of ambient music, digital programming, and percussive sampling.
The tunes on display in this solo set derive their dynamic power from the interesting interplay that Mark Heaney achieves between simpler sampled parts and more technically impressive live playing. “Signs,” for instance, features dueling manic grooves full of off-kilter accents and heavy synth movement. Though Heaney’s production credits mention that live drums for the album were recorded with three microphones in practice facilities, the sounds on display are crisp and organic, alternating between heavily compressed drum and bass patterns and warmer, open rock beats. While the album occasionally slips into grating experimental territory (“Priestess of Delphi”), these moments are a small price to pay for the more dynamic exercises that dominate. (markheaney.bandcamp.com) Keaton Lamle
Other Drummer-Leds to Check Out
Buddy Rich The Channel One Set, The Lost Tapes /// Adam Rudolph Morphic Resonances /// Vinnie Sperrazza Hide Ye Idols /// Barry Altschul & the 3Dom Factor Live in Kraków /// Bakini (Michael Spiro/Joe Galvin) En el Nuevo Mundo /// Jamison Ross All for One /// Jimmy Chamberlin Complex The Parable /// Ilios Steryannis Bethany Project
Drumming D.N.A. by Sammy J. Watson
A diverse collection of exercises and beats to help you break free from the same old.
Former Apex Theory drummer and instructor Sammy J. Watson’s new book contains the tag line “organic recipes for realizing rhythm,” and Watson manages to go beyond the normal meat and potatoes to highlight interesting patterns for students to play. Watson divides the book into four sections: applying snare exercises to the kit as grooves and fills; odd groupings; double drumming with two kits to improve double bass playing; and odds and ends including Apex Theory transcriptions.
This stuff is all over the place in a good way, not focusing on any one thing and instead featuring challenging material that Watson finds worthy and fun. There are tricky nine-stroke stickings inspired by Dave Weckl (The Weck 9’s) and cool alternate ideas for James Brown beats (J.B. Grooves), so leave your limiting genre preconceptions at the door, because you’ll be dabbling in many styles. The eclectic nature of the different notation means you can pop in for whatever you want to work on, and students can gain further appreciation for Watson’s inventive work with Apex Theory if they wish. Audio examples and play-along tracks are available from the author’s website. (Hard copy $19.99, PDF/e-book $9.99, sammyjdrums.com) Ilya Stemkovsky