He’s one of the great drummers
of our time, a designation he’s carried for at least as far back as the
1970s, when he contributed to such recordings as “Aja” by Steely Dan,
Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” and Maynard Ferguson’s Primal Scream
album. Born on April 9, 1945, Steve Gadd celebrates 70 years as the
Steve Gadd Band presents 70 Strong (BFM Jazz, 2015).
For this date, Gadd is reunited with his Gadditude ensemble:
Walt Fowler, trumpet and flugelhorn; Larry Goldings, keyboards and
accordion; Jimmy Johnson, bass; and Michael Landau, guitars.
“Foam Home,” co-written by all members of the group, is considered the
son of “Green Foam,” a track from the ensemble’s Gadditude
(BFM, 2013). This track is like a group therapy session, with all five
players expressing themselves as individuals yet maintaining the
cohesion of the group. Gadd and Johnson mostly handle background, but
they do so effectively. Fowler carries the melody with supplements by
Landau and Goldings, and each contributes a solo. It’s a strutting,
Landau composed the easygoing “The Long Way Home.” The guitar leads with
the subtle keyboard and muted trumpet providing an ethereal backdrop.
Gadd’s adept stick work on the high-hat cymbals and rim shots add a
little spice. Fowler ditches the mute about midway through. Landau,
Fowler and Goldings stretch out in turns.
“Duke’s Anthem,” penned by Fowler, is a tribute to the late George Duke.
Goldings also composed three tracks, Landau two and Johnson one. Though
Gadd has led other ensembles, including The Gadd Gang, he doesn’t seek
the spotlight. Instead, he opts for doing what he always does: work his
magic in the background with clever rhythms, stunning fills and the
occasional solo. His discography includes numerous guest spots with
other artists, including Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,”
Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E.’s in Love,” Spyro Gyra’s “Conversations,”
the Grover Washington Jr./Bill Withers collaboration, “Just the Two of
Us,” and Al Jarreau’s cover of Chick Corea’s “Spain.”
With 70 Strong,” Dr. Gadd continues to build on his legacy of