An Editor’s Overview
by Willie Rose
“If I am an influence, I hope I’m a good one,” said this month’s cover artist, Steve Gadd, in his very first Modern Drummer cover story, in 1978. “I don’t play to be an influence. I feel a responsibility to the music I play. Let’s say being responsible to the music is the first step in accepting responsibility for people coming up.”
When MD first published this quote, Gadd had previously, and responsibly, laid a solid foundation beneath Van McCoy’s hit “The Hustle,” arguably redefined the concept of a pop groove on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and torn through an everlasting solo on Steely Dan’s “Aja.” These few examples from Gadd’s ’70s output, and countless other accomplishments since, still resonate throughout the drumming community today. (For recent evidence of Gadd’s impact on our subscribers and social media followers, check out this month’s Readers’ Platform.)
For me, Gadd is an incredible influence and inspiration. From the aforementioned tunes and more, there are countless “Gaddisms” that I revere and unsuccessfully try to master in practice. But one track—“Nite Sprite,” from Chick Corea’s The Leprechaun—holds a special place in my personal drumming-performance hall of fame. Gadd’s brilliant dynamic control, paradiddle permutations, samba approach, and blazing chops adorn the song before he launches into a melodic yet fiery solo at the piece’s climax. Gadd’s playing on this track blew my mind. After listening to it for the first time, I scoured the internet, probably via Netscape Navigator at that point, for any transcription I could find of his performance. The song inspired me to shed and, through some of the online notation I pored over, ignited an interest in transcribing his and other drummers’ parts on my own.
If Gadd was hoping to be a good influence close to forty years ago, his music certainly still hits home now, especially as evidenced in his story in this month’s issue.
And on the subject of influencers and inspiration, this month we’re announcing our 2017 Readers Poll results. We’d like to thank every one of the voters for the overwhelming participation this year in choosing their favorite, most inspiring players. And we’d like to congratulate each and every winner and nominee. Check out the results on page 28, and enjoy the issue!