The Surf Symphony – The Song Of Summer

Someone around ’69 had a brilliant idea. He said: “We ‘re in California. Here, we all listen to surf music. So if I make a symphonic album based on that it ‘ll be a major hit. Won’t it?”.

The above statement is just my assumption because The Surf Symphony – The Song Of Summer is indeed a brilliantly made record. It features some of the finest session musicians of the LA scene (including one of my personal favourites, drummer Jim Gordon) and the performances in it are super smooth.


Credits:

Mike Deasy, Ben Benay and Vic Briggs (guitars), Ray Pohlman, Lyle Ritz (bass), Mike Rubini, John Myles (keyboards), Jim Horn, Jules Jacob (woodwinds), Gary Coleman (percussion), Jim Gordon (drums), Lou McCreary, Lou Hyde (trombones) and Virgil Evans, Oliver Mitchell (trumpets)

Pocket Practice #1 : Betty Wright and The Roots: The Movie

I ‘m gonna try posting in a more organised manner starting with a series of articles noted as “Pocket Practice”. This will be dedicated to records that are delightful examples of what we call “playing deep in the pocket”. You can playalong with them or simply have a focused listen and get inspired.

Post no.1 is again about ?uestlove and his band The Roots. It is a collaboration with the singer/songwriter, Betty Wright. Every track has a certain vibe from start to finish and the drums follow that throughout the record. A musically perfect example of loose, breathy and -above all- patient timekeeping. The production is awesome too.

Steve Gadd – Eric Clapton live at Budokan

Yes, it’s yet another drumblog post about Steve Gadd. Nope, it won’t revolutionise the internet. Then again, maybe this next line will:

“Steve Gadd is inhumanly HUMAN”.

Smart guy on the internet: “Yeah, man we all know Steve Gadd, he played on Paul Simon’s ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ and Steely Dan’s ‘Aja’ and he’s endorsing Yamaha and I ‘ve played his signature snare with the wooden hoops and it’s freakin awesome and etc etc etc“.

Admit it. Most of us younger drummers (including of course my self) only go so far. We ‘re spending too much time thinking about the legend of a musician rather than actually trying to find out what the hell he actually has in mind when he’ s playing. Steve Gadd is one of these cases.

The story behind this post goes like this. Like many people, I was watching Yogi Horton’s instructional video on YouTube (link) and what struck me the most (besides his outstanding groove tips) was the “body motion” subject he brings up. It’s true, we all have our own way of “dancing” around the set and many things we like to play are mostly a product of the body placement we have during that dance. We should encourage this and not fight it. Because it’s human nature.

Since then, I tried to picture many well-known drummers and their way of moving around the set. The brightest example was… tada! Steve Gadd.

You can see the point I’m making every time he moves to the floor toms. His body motion is as natural as his sound. He has the most human approach I ‘ve seen among the “pros”. He might even make you think he’s clumsy and off-balance but he’s not. He’s just dancing around the way he feels to.

Starting from that, I made a week-long series of listening to albums and watching live performances of Steve Gadd which eventually led me to the Budokan video I posted above. I just couldn’t turn it off cause every song felt like excitement and I was anxious to see what he ‘ll do as the set was progressing. I caught myself yelling “I ‘ll do that too” numerous times.

A few examples of “I’ ll do that too” scenarios:

-He starts off  the gig with two brushes in his hand. Thoughtful solution for a big venue with many guitars/keys in the band where the intricacy of the brushes is usually long gone in the big speakers.

-He totally holds himself back for at least 30+ minutes which is actually the moment the show/band gets warmed up.

-I ‘ve never seen a drummer placing his bass drum hits so well. He keep them simple, driving and smart. Best example is on the B section of “River of Tears” (36:34). Adding a bass drum on the backbeat of a 6/8 groove makes a wonderful transition.

-His hihat sound. It’s watery, it has mid-range (always loving that) and it’s not what you call a “session” hihat sound, especially when he opens it up. I may start setting it up like he does: a bit higher and facing downwards to my stomach (from the player’s point of view). If anything, it will have a similar feel with the rest of the cymbals which are actually all set higher and facing down.

Always on top of the arrangement. Always pushing it forward, not hiding it behind his skills. Because that’s the most human thing to do if you ‘re as cool as Steve Gadd. And it’s probably the most useful tip anyone can get from this performance.

Probably the longest post I ‘ve done ’till now. If you actually made it down here, thank you for reading.