Sorry folks, this is long….
I just read a few post's here regarding what the BIG fuss is about Steve as well as others criticizing his technique and chops (or lack of) … well here's my input on Steve.
I believe (and im in good company when I say this) part of what makes Gadd's "sound" so unique is that not only does he have great 'military chops' but 'jazz chops' as well ( he excelled at both styles at a very young age ) which inevitably would become his foundation for the studio work that would follow.
For instance, Steve had an uncanny ability to take rudiments and apply them to the kit and make the groove come to life. And you would never know that he was playing a rudiment, unless you took the time to dissect the groove (audio examples at bottom of page)
Stanton Moore is another very interesting drummer, who knows how to take a sticking pattern and apply it many ways around the kit musically…. But Steve was doing this on hit records in the 70's.
Lets talk about linear drumming and 4 way independence (as applied in linear drumming). Steve was without a doubt one of the originators of this style. Again, steve was pulling this stuff off musically on hit records (audio examples below) Check out Danny Gottlieb's quote, it's very interesting what he has to say.
There is MUCH more to Steve's drumming that I don’t even know how to put into words. To me, Steve's drumming will always be an enigma. His grooves are like riddles and I am constantly finding new things the more I "listen"
I guess if I had to choose just one word to describe why Steve has been so successful, then that word would have to be "feel" … Bernhard has mentioned this before, that its one thing to be able to play a Gadd groove/fill, but, it is a completely different matter in achieving his feel.
I remember reading that Paul Simon mentioned when some other drummers tried to play the "50 ways" the groove just didn’t feel/sound right even though the notes were correct. To me, this says it all.
But hey why listen to me, im just an average drummer.... So im including a few quotes from some of the greatest drummers in the world for their take on Gadd.
Danny Gottlieb (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gil Evans, Pat Metheny)
"Another interesting topic to note....Gary Chester was another great, legendary NY studio drummer in the 60's and 70's, and later in life, after his incredible studio career, before his untimely passing in the 80's, became a world renown drumset instructor. I took some lessons with Gary, and was involved with helping him get started on a drumming text, which was later published as an instruction book called "The New Breed." Since Gary's passing, the book has become one of the main texts used in the study modern drumming, and specifically in styles that relate to the innovations of Steve Gadd!
A few months ago, I was cleaning out a box of old cassettes, and I saw one labeled: "Gary Chester 1 and 2." I figured that it was a tape of me practicing Gary's book. As it turned out, it was an interview tape, of me asking Gary specific questions, to be used for the introduction of the book! As it turns out, there are very few tapes of Gary's lessons, or even his voice. I turned the tape over to his family, and they are in the process of editing it for the purpose of including it in future releases of "The New Breed."
The reason I mention it, is many of the questions I asked Gary related specifically to Steve Gadd. The point I was making, in the discussion with Gary, was that the method book he was writing contained some very advanced groove and coordination ideas, that really were not found in the traditional studio drumming that Gary himself had played. When you hear him on "Bad Bad Leroy Brown", or "Do the Locomotion", or "Do You Believe in Magic?", the drumming was straight-ahead, as compared to the advanced coordination exercises in "The New Breed."
My point to Gary, as mentioned on the tape, was that when Steve Gadd started to be recognized as a studio performer, his groove style, with creative nuances, became an example of a CREATIVE drummer, whose drumming became accepted as a commercial style. It was something to me that was almost unheard of before Steve's influence. I have heard people mention that they feel Steve Gadd invented "Disco" because he used the device of playing off-beats on the hi-hat as a musical nuance. It became one of the main points of our conversation, and when the tape is released, I hope Steve's fans will enjoy hearing Gary's responses and comments. And, of course, Gary, loved Steve's playing as well!"
"I can't think of another percussionist today who has inspired more drummers than Steve Gadd. His level of innovation, sheer technical mastery of the instrument, and dedication to the groove in every style of music he plays has delighted and instructed countless drummers in how good drumming can be. I'm grateful for every paradiddle, single and double stroke the man has ever played."
" I couldn't believe it from the first time I heard Steve. Not only does he do what he does with technical brilliance, but he basically put the word "music" right in the forefront of the drums. His influence on me was tremendous, as well as his influence on the entire drumming and musical world!
Steve contribution to the music has made a huge impact in the way drummers play everywhere. He is unquestionably one of the most important drummers that ever lived. And he's totally unique. What Steve has to say on the drums every drummer needs to heed, for he'll show you how to play music at it's highest level. Thank you, Steve, for all you've given us. We are all deeply indebted to you."
"Steve is one of the greatest drummers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He caused me many a nights' headaches trying to figure out his rhythms, but I enjoyed doing it."
"Steve Gadd is one of the greatest and most influential drummers/musicians ever! His feel, ideas and talent with music and drumming are at the highest level possible. It's an honor to know him."
"Steve Gadd has been one of my drum heroes ever since I heard Chick Corea "The Leprechaun" album. I'm proud to consider Steve my friend. He's a great and every warm-hearted human being. He is a lesson on making the band feel good!"
"If there is a finer drummer in Christendom I'm sure i don't know who it is."
"I got my first Yamaha kit in 1978 because my hero, Steve Gadd, used them. I still play a black Recording Custom kit beacuse of him."
What the musicians in Sheena Easton's band called Steve.
"His pocket is the deepest, his time is flawless and his ideas innovative. In fact, I get asked all the time about a certain fill I played in the Journey tune "Separate Ways", my answer: it's a Gadd lick, and I stole it! thank you Steve for all the incredible music"
Andy Newmark (former drummer of John Lennon, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Sly & the Family Stone, Roxy Music and many others.) ;
"Steve is an institution. When you see him play he makes it all make sense. The reason it always works is because Steve is playing Steve. He's probably the first guy to understand and have a genuine feel for rock and pop-and have the technical facility and feel of a jazz drummer as well. He's an original, poetry in motion"
"Steve Gadd represents one of the most complete players in the world. He has it all, technique, groove, you name it. I've been a big fan of his for many years."
Danny Gottlieb (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gil Evans, Pat Metheny)
"Steve is one of the originators of this style, and one of the great artists on the instrument. He was able to incorporate an individual style into something that was accepted into a commercial idiom.
Steve seems like one of the nicest guys on the planet-very real. I love him for his uniqueness-for that style he kind of invented. It's interesting to see where other drummers have taken it, like Weckl, Cliff Almond, Zach Danziger, and Tom Brechtlein. They've all drawn on Steve's style"
"The first thing I remember hearing Steve on was Chick Corea's 'Humpty Dumpty'. When I heard him play, I lost it. After that, I listened a lot to Steve's work with Chick."
Buddy Rich ;
"I love drummers, but it disappoints me because they have not elevated the art of drumming. They've set it back quite a few years. I think the only guy who made a dent in the change-over, if you want to call it that, was Gadd. Steve Gadd was and probably still is, the best at that particular kind of drumming. I think that's because he has a jazz background, so he's able to incorporate it when he plays. He was very interesting in the beginning. Out of all the drummers I've heard, Gadd would have to be the one who has the most class behind the drums"
Originally Posted by Zardoz
I'm not a Gaddhead and so far from what I've heard/seen, I really can't see why people bow down to him so much.
If someone can please list his...let's say 5 best drum parts (besides the obligatory Steely Dan songs), I'd appreciate it.
Only 5…well, when I was going through my collection I realised that there was soooo much great material to choose from that I just wanted to keep posting more and more tunes. But, I restrained myself and stopped at 20 :-) seriously thou, i dont think i could give you 5 best drum parts, each one of these tunes have their own special place. Not to mention that Steve's discography is so huge, and i dont own everything the man has played. His best work is something that i probably havent even heard yet.... but, im pretty sure that these tunes that i posted would be up there on the best of list..... enjoy the short clips..
p.s. sorry i could not resist posting tune # 7 :-)