Too High Groove – Stevie Wonder

danball6

Junior Member
I am more and more admiring Stevie Wonder as a drummer in his own right. I've been playing along to 'Too High' from Innervisions (great album) and the groove is strange – the pocket seems all over the place, sometimes swung, sometimes straight, sometimes somewhere in between... For the life of me I can't work it out – all I know is, it sounds amazing. Any ideas as to what he's doing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8dK0iEzi1M
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I love his playing. I think it pretty much swings all the way through, though it's pretty legato, so it's not necessarily based exactly on a triplet. The swing feel as he plays it on the drums is a little straighter than he plays it on the other instruments which might be part of what you're hearing.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
It sounds lightly swung the whole time to me. And almost the whole time there's something playing on the upbeat, usually either hi hat or the bell of the ride. As for the groove, it almost reminds me of some Latin grooves. Especially on the ride
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I am more and more admiring Stevie Wonder as a drummer in his own right. I've been playing along to 'Too High' from Innervisions (great album) and the groove is strange – the pocket seems all over the place, sometimes swung, sometimes straight, sometimes somewhere in between... For the life of me I can't work it out – all I know is, it sounds amazing. Any ideas as to what he's doing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8dK0iEzi1M
I think it's just the result of an instinctive musician being able to play (virtually) all of the parts on his own album. He doesn't have to convey a feel to the drummer - he IS the drummer. I think it's just how he heard the different parts in his head, and he executed them thusly.
 
There is no denying that Stevie Wonder is a wonderful and tasteful player of many instruments and on some albums played most if not all of everything. Being old enough to have gotten my first vinyl copy of 'Innervisions' when it was new, I remember reading in articles and interviews that he would sometimes record different drumkit parts separately, which could make the sum of the combined built up parts difficult for one drummer to replicate in real time. I will attempt to track down, find a source, verify this and get back to you if someone else doesn't remember this and do it first.
 
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