Steve Gadd

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For other people named Steve Gadd, see Steve Gadd (disambiguation).
Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd at Bodø Jazz Open 2014
Gadd at Bodø Jazz Open 2014
Background information
Birth name Stephen Kendall Gadd
Born (1945-04-09) April 9, 1945 (age 69)
Irondequoit, New York, United States
Genres Jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion rock music, blues, R&B
Occupations Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion
Years active 1968–present
Website www.drstevegadd.com

Stephen Kendall "Steve" Gadd (born April 9, 1945,[1] in Irondequoit, New York) is an American musician. Gadd is one of the most well-known and highly regarded session and studio drummers in the industry. A true innovator, his groove on Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", and drum solo on Steely Dan's "Aja", are both examples of his seminal sound and signature style. He has worked with popular musicians from a wide range of genres including notably Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea and Al Di Meola.

Biography[edit]

Gadd is a native of Irondequoit, New York, a suburb of Rochester. When he was seven years old, his uncle, who was a drummer in the US army, encouraged him to take drum lessons. By the age of eleven Gadd had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. In a Modern Drummer interview Gadd mentioned that some of his influences at a young age and later on included Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and the "less is more" style of Rick Marotta.[2]

After graduating from Irondequoit's Eastridge High School, he attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years before transferring to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, playing in wind ensembles and concert bands. After Gadd finished college in the late 1960s, he played regularly with Chuck Mangione and his brother Gap. His first recording was on Gap Mangione's debut solo album, Diana in the Autumn Wind (1968).

Gadd was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent three years as a drummer in the Army Music Program, most of which was spent with the Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band in Fort Meade, MD. While living in the Washington DC area, he briefly took lessons from the noted jazz drummer Michael S. Smith. Following his military service, Gadd played and worked with a band in Rochester. In 1972, Gadd formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes, traveling to New York with them. The trio eventually broke up, but Gadd began to work mainly as a studio musician. Gadd also played with Chick Corea's Return to Forever but left the group.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he toured internationally, and recorded with Paul Simon and also with Al Di Meola's Electric Rendezvous Band.

In 1976, Gadd and other session musicians in New York City, including Richard Tee, Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree, formed the group Stuff. Their work included appearances on NBC's Saturday Night Live, both performing on their own and backing Joe Cocker.

By the end of the 1970s, Steve Gadd was an accomplished drummer, with transcriptions of his drum solos on sale in Japan. Corea once commented, "Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect.... He has brought orchestral and compositional thinking to the drum kit while at the same time having a great imagination and a great ability to swing."[3]

In 2005, along with Abraham Laboriel, Patrice Rushen and others, Gadd was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music for outstanding contributions to contemporary music.[4][5]


Session work[edit]

Gadd behind his drum kit in 2010

A short list of musicians with whom Gadd has worked includes Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Al Jarreau, Joe Cocker, Stuff, Bob James, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton, Pino Daniele, James Taylor, Jim Croce, Eddie Gomez, The Manhattan Transfer, Michal Urbaniak, Steps Ahead, Al Di Meola, Manhattan Jazz Quintet, Carly Simon, Richard Tee, Jon Bon Jovi, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, The Bee Gees, Michael McDonald, Michel Petrucciani, Kate Bush, and David Sanborn.

1970s[edit]

In 1975, Gadd played drums on "The Hustle" by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony. That same year, he also played the recognizable drum intro and beat behind Paul Simon's hit, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". Gadd demonstrated the strengths in his work on the title track of Steely Dan's Aja album – highlighted by Gadd's drum punctuation in the coda of the title cut. Chick Corea's straight-ahead jazz albums Friends and Three Quartets, as well as Jim Hall's 1975 album Concierto are some more examples of Gadd's jazz playing. In 1979, Gadd performed a drum solo on Carly Simon's Spy LP.

1980s[edit]

In 1981, Gadd played in the famous Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park. He was a featured performer in the 1980 motion picture One Trick Pony starring Paul Simon. Simon's hit "Late in the Evening" was the movie's main title in which Gadd implemented the "Mozambique", a Cuban dance rhythm, into the song. Frank Sinatra's 1984 studio album LA Is My Lady featured a large orchestra of some of the world's top session musicians, including Steve Gadd, under the direction of Quincy Jones.

1990s[edit]

Gadd recorded and toured with Eric Clapton in 1994/1996 and again from 1997 to 2004. 1997 also saw him on a world tour in a trio with the French jazz great Michel Petrucciani and his Paul Simon band colleague, bassist Anthony Jackson (captured on the Trio in Tokyo CD and Live in Stuttgart DVD/VHS).

2000s[edit]

Gadd played on the blues album Riding with the King along with B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Vaughan and a few others.

In 2009, Gadd returned to Clapton's band to play 11 nights at the Royal Albert Hall and was part of Clapton's touring band throughout May 2009.

Also in 2009, Gadd reunited with his band from 1973, "L'Image", featuring Mike Mainieri, Warren Bernhardt, David Spinozza and Tony Levin. The group performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, toured Japan, and released the album L'Image 2.0.

2010s[edit]

Gadd played next to Eric Clapton at Crossroads show. In 2011, Gadd worked with Kate Bush on her 50 Words for Snow album, and she declared – during an interview by Jamie Cullum – that she had wanted to work with Steve Gadd for a long time but had not had the courage to approach him; she described him as "a sweet person, really down to earth" and said that "his interpretation of music is so sophisticated", and also that she loved working with him due to a real chemistry that started to click in.

Equipment[edit]

Before signing on with Yamaha, Gadd played a mixed kit that included a Gretsch bass drum (20") and Pearl concert toms customized by Frank Ippolito's Professional Percussion Center in New York. By using Evans hydraulic heads with added bottom heads he was able to get a deeper, richer tone that became known as his signature sound, a sound still popular 30 years later. Gadd now mainly uses the "Steve Gadd Commemorative" kit, which Yamaha made for the 30th anniversary of his collaboration with the company. The kit consists of a 22"x14" maple bass drum and 12"x8", 13"x9", 14"x12" and 16"x14" birch tom toms. He uses his 14"x5.5" Yamaha Steve Gadd signature steel snare drum with wood hoops. He also has birch and maple versions of the snare drum.

He uses Zildjian cymbals, and he collaborated with Zildjian when they made the K Custom Session cymbals.

Gadd also has Vic Firth sticks with his signature on them. The drumsticks are very light and thin, black in color, and have normal "wood color" on the tips. There is also an identical model with nylon tips. The stick is slightly shorter than the American Classic 5A, and features a barrel tip for improved recording sound. It is 15 34 in (40.0 cm) long and the diameter is .550 in (1.40 cm). In addition to having his own signature stick, he also has his own signature brushes. These brushes are intended to solve the problem of wire brushes snagging on new coated drumheads by slightly angling the wires in the top 3/4” (1.9 cm) of the playing end. The wires glide across the head, allowing a smoother sweep and a velvet swish sound.

Gadd uses a variety of Remo heads: a coated Powerstroke 3 on the batter side of the snare, clear Pinstripes or coated Ambassadors on the batter sides of toms, and clear Ambassadors for the resonant sides. He uses a Pinstripe on the bass drum.[6][7]

Discography[edit]

As Steve Gadd & Friends

  • Live At Voce – Deluxe Edition (2010) [BFM Jazz]

As Steve Gadd/ with the Gadd Gang

  • Gadd About (1984)
  • The Gadd Gang (1986)
  • Pigs and Wizards (1987)
  • Here & Now (1988)
  • Live at Bottom Line (1988)
  • Gadd Gang (1991)

With Stuff

  • Stuff (1976)
  • Stuff It (1978)
  • Live Stuff (1978)
  • Live In New York (1980)
  • East (1981)
  • Best Stuff (1981)

With Patti Austin

With B.B. King

With Chick Corea

With Steely Dan

  • Aja on (title track)
  • Gaucho on ("Glamour Profession", "My Rival", "Third World Man", the title track and percussion on "Hey Nineteen")

With Simon and Garfunkel

With The Manhattan Transfer

With Warren Bernhardt

  • Manhattan Update (1980)

With Paul Simon

With Steps[disambiguation needed]

  • Smokin' in the Pit
  • Step by Step

With George Benson:

With Grover Washington

  • Winelight (Elektra/Asylum, 1980)

With Joe Brucato

With Eric Clapton

With James Brown

  • Black Caesar

With Art Farmer

With Johnny Hammond

With Milt Jackson

With Hubert Laws

With Yusef Lateef

With Jackie and Roy

With Al Jarreau

With Rickie Lee Jones

  • Rickie Lee Jones
  • Pirates
  • Magazine

With Paul McCartney

With Chuck Mangione

  • The Boys From Rochester, 1989
  • Disguise, 1984
  • Tarantella, 1980
  • Main Squeeze, 1976
  • Land of Make Believe, 1973
  • Alive, 1972
  • Together, 1971
  • Friends and Love, 1970

With Gap Mangione

  • Family Holidays, 2004
  • Stolen Moments, 2003
  • Planet Gap, 1998
  • Gap Mangione!, 1976
  • She and I, 1974
  • Sing Along Junk, 1972
  • Diana in the Autumn Wind, 1968

With Michel Petrucciani

  • Trio in Tokyo
  • Both Worlds

With Al Di Meola

With Lee Ritenour

  • Feel the Night
  • Captains Journey
  • Friendship

With Bob James

  • BJ4 (1977)
  • Heads (1978
  • Touchdown (1978)
  • Lucky Seven (1979) (Tracks "Rush Hour" and "Blue Lick")

With Michel Jonasz:

  • Michel Jonasz au Zénith (1993)
  • Où vont les rêves (2002)

With Sunlightsquare

  • Urban Sessions (2006)

With Weather Report

  • Mr Gone (1978) (Tracks "Young and Fine" and "And Then")

With Funk Factory

  • Funk Factory (1975) (Tracks "Watusi Dance", "Rien Ne Va Plus", "Funk It" and "Lilliput")

With Lalo Schifrin

With Jeremy Steig

With James Taylor

With Art Garfunkel

  • Some Enchanted Evening, 2007[8]
  • Songs from a Parent to a Child, 1997[8]

With L'Image

  • L'Image 2.0, 2009

With Lesley Meguid

  • The Truth About Love Songs, 2010

With Chet Baker

  • She Was Too Good to Me, 1974
  • Studio Trieste, (CTI 9007, 1982)

With Don Sebesky

With Masahiko Satoh

  • Amorphism, 1985

With Kate Bush

With Cedar Walton

With Richard Tee

With Mike Porcaro

  • Brotherly Love (2011) (Tracks "Rosanna", "Manic Depression", "Georgy Porgy", "Lowdown", "E Minor Shuffle", "Human Nature", "Africa", "Let's Stay Together", "Stuffy", "Jeff's Strut" and "Corbitt Van Brauer")

References[edit]

  1. ^ Braman, Chuck; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Gadd, Steve". In Barry Kernfeld. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 2. ISBN 1561592846. 
  2. ^ Rick Mattingly, Hall of Fame - Steve Gadd", Percussive Arts Society.
  3. ^ Bosso, Joe. "Steve Gadd on playing with Clapton, McCartney, and his own band". Musicradar.com July 5, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  4. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients", Berklee College of Music website
  5. ^ Cf. Gadd's official website.
  6. ^ The Official Steve Gadd Website: Set Up. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  7. ^ Yard Gavrilovic: Steve Gadd's Drum Tech. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d "Official website: discography". Drstevegadd.com. August 15, 1991. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 

External links[edit]