What’s Your Favorite Steve Gadd Track and Why?
For drummers, it could be hard, if not impossible, to pick out one standout track from the extensive and legendary career of this month’s cover artist, Steve Gadd. His feel and explosive solo on Steely Dan’s “Aja,” the inventive groove on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and the genre-melding jazz and fusion work he’s done with Chick Corea on tunes such as “Samba Song” and “Nite Sprite” only offer a glimpse into Gadd’s lasting impact on the drumming world. Here our social-media followers give us their thoughts on some of their favorite Gadd tracks.
“Aja.” It’s a perfect marriage of texture, technique, sensitivity, bombast, patented licks, and signature grooves, and it’s as close as anything to a complete representation of the drummer’s taste, feel, agility, imagination, and musicianship.
His drumming on the Chick Corea albums The Leprechaun and My Spanish Heart really changed how I looked at the drums. “Nite Sprite” from The Leprechaun has some of his most intense, articulate playing, with an amazing solo to boot. And “Love Castle” from My Spanish Heart has all of the taste, touch, interplay, and groove that you could ask for.
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” It has a recognizable, repeated drum riff that anyone can play. But to create it—that’s pure genius!
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I was instantly obsessed with that opening groove, and I still am. Absolutely brilliant!
Learning “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” in Advanced Funk Studies introduced me to him, but his work with Steely Dan has kept me a fan all these years.
“Aja.” It’s tasteful, classy, and laser-perfect, with the deepest groove. I think that’s the best Steely Dan has ever sounded. They can kill a drum track by making someone do it over and over to where it’s perfect but no longer feels good. They lucked out with Steve Gadd.
“Late in the Evening” by Paul Simon. It floored me when I found out Gadd played the Mozambique pattern with four sticks on the record to get that fatter sound, especially when he goes to the ride pattern on the bell. The first time I started digging into that groove, I knew I had to make sure I brought a shovel.
On the album Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich with the Buddy Rich Big Band, Steve plays “Love for Sale.” His pickups are spot on. He just plays quarter notes on the ride, and it swings like crazy. It was one of my first encounters with jazz and big band.
“Dear Alice” by Chick Corea. The first time I heard it, it opened up a whole set of possibilities that had never occurred to me before. The groove, the collective improvisation within the group, and the way Gadd finds ways to keep upping the intensity all left a huge impression on me.
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I had to learn the song for my first final in music school because I didn’t have left-foot [coordination]. Gadd introduced a whole new world of drumming to me through that simple yet insane beat.
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