Each month, as we prepare content for the current issue of Modern Drummer, we post a drumming-related question at our online outlets, sort through responses from MD readers and social media followers, and print some of the answers in our Readers’ Platform column. Drummers eagerly let us know about their favorite tracks from specific players, genres, or eras. Or they’ll vouch for their favorite gear. Or they might offer their general opinion on the state of the drumming world. Whatever the context, it’s always inspiring to find new music, setup ideas, and views that come directly from the greater drumming community.
I found the responses to this month’s discussion about MD cover artist and Journey drummer Steve Smith particularly interesting. Fans offered their favorite Smith tracks, and nearly half of the hundreds of comments were unique choices from a wide variety of artists that the drummer has backed. While some tracks were picked multiple times, there also appeared to be no definite favorite among the comments—though Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” did squeak into the top spot by one vote.
I’ve transcribed a fair share of Smith’s playing, but I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the drummer’s greater discography. This month’s comments were enlightening, humbling, and inspiring, and I spent some time digging into Steve’s catalog as curated by the responses. His tight, diddle-infused signature grooves on “Night Flight,” from the fusion/prog-rock band Focus’s 1978 album, Focus con Proby, cut through me, as did his burning performance throughout fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty’s triumphant 1977 album, Enigmatic Ocean.
I also enjoyed how you can trace the evolution of Smith’s sound from our followers’ picks. Some of the drier, almost Steve Gadd–like ’70s tones can be found with Ponty and Focus. Twenty years later, a much more wide-open drum sound sings throughout “Night Visitors,” from the late jazz guitarist Larry Coryell’s album Cause and Effect.
You can check out some suggested Steve Smith tracks in this month’s Readers’ Platform and dive headfirst into the monster technician’s current happenings in his cover story. And if you haven’t already, connect with us on social media to join the conversation—you can find our various handles below. We want to hear from you and provide a place for drummers, who notoriously can talk tubs nonstop, to share their opinions and views with each other.
And speaking of our online outlets, we’re excited to share the news that we’ve launched our brand-new website! Now each month you can experience the entire magazine in digital form right from the front page of moderndrummer.com—including all the interviews, reviews, lessons, and departments that appear in the print magazine, along with additional video content, blogs, news, and more. You’ll also be able to access more than forty years’ worth of archival Modern Drummer material—making moderndrummer.com by far the most extensive source of drumming journalism anywhere on the internet. Check it out, and enjoy!