22nd April 2016
Thank you to all who enjoyed the article on Ringo Starr. Here’s the 2nd drummer in this 4-part feature – Steve Jordan.
Steve Jordan is definitely one of my favourite drummers. I actually did a full-on book project on him when I was at University. I think its so important to find out about new drummers and develop an interest in those whom we enjoy listening to. It really helps us as drummers become better listeners, better players, and also helps us to play with a band more effectively. In short, we mature as musicians. So without further ado, here’s a bit about Steve, why I think his contribution to music over the past 30 years is significant, and also some wisdom in the form of comments from the man himself as well as a few groove transcriptions.
Steve Jordan was born on January 14th, 1957 in New York. After studying as a classical percussionist at the famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC, Steve Jordan launched a legendary career in rock, collaborating with artists such as Keith Richards, Don Henley, John Mayer, The Pretenders, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob Dylan and Alicia Keys. As a Grammy Award-winning record producer, his inspired presence and craft have raised the standard. Steve Jordan is well known as a multi-instrumentalist, musical director, producer and a writer of exceptional quality. In addition to his late 70’s / early 80’s tenure with Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, Steve has been one of the most in demand session drummers in the world. He has recorded and toured with such artists as The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, BB King, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow and many more. Steve has evolved into a Grammy Award winning producer with Robert Crays’ album ‘Take Your Shoes Off’ and the nominated ‘Bring ‘Em In’ by Buddy Guy. While he has played on countless hits, from Alicia Keys ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Devils and Dust’, and he continues to produce with such works as the John Mayer Trio album ‘Try!’, the John Mayer album ‘Continuum’, John Scofield’s ‘That’s What I Say,’ ‘Possiblilties’ by Herbie Hancock, among many others. As a musical director, Steve has worked on such high profile projects as Superbowl XXXX, the Martin Scorsese/Antoine Fuqua film ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Steve Jordan is one of the most influential and sought after session drummers in the world. He has accomplished more in his drumming career than he ever could have imagined. Steve isn’t known in the music industry for playing the hardest licks ever known to the human mind, or for the technical skills that would make even the late, great Buddy Rich squirm (although he has great technique and soloing ability!). What Steve Jordan is best known for is making the drums sound good in any musical situation. He can take a simple beat and make it sound great. He can take a more complicated beat and make it sound so fluid and simple. He has taken his drumming beyond technique, having studied formally, and found his own sound, making the music the best it can be on each record he appears on. He has taken his influences, from Kenny Clarke to Carlton Barrett to David Garibaldi to Steve Gadd, and formed his own unique voice, and continues to inspire countless drummers today. Steve Jordan is one of my favourite drummers ever, and has made an amazing mark on the music industry.
Some Steve quotes:
“Every building has a strong foundation. When you’re building a rhythm track, you have to provide the foundation. The drummer has to be strong and solid.”
(The Groove Is Here DVD, 2002)
“When drummers practice with time, they usually practice with a metronome. That’s fine except a key ingredient to the secret of timekeeping is overlooked. I realise that in drumming you start the note but don’t stop it. That opened me up to a whole new world for me. You need to know the full length of a quarter note.”
On the subject of groove in an interview with Modern Drummer magazine: “That’s why people play so much stuff, because they can’t play a steady beat. But when you get into playing a steady groove and you can hypnotize somebody with that beat, that’s the bomb. And it takes confidence to know you can do that and not care what anybody says. People might think you don’t play fills because you can’t, but you have to do away with all that. They’ll feel it when it’s good” (Modern Drummer October 2010).
“Simplicity is not stupidity. Just because some- thing sounds good in your mind doesn’t mean that it’s dumb.”
“WHO DID YOU THINK I WAS” by John Mayer Trio (from the record ‘Try!’)
20th February 2016
***NEW BLOG SERIES: DRUM LEGENDS*** (VOL.1 – Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Neil Peart, Steve Jordan)
RINGO STARR IS ONE OF THE GREATEST DRUMMERS OF ALL TIME…not a sentence you hear all that much. But it is definitely one I am going to use here. In terms of technique – the statement is not true. In terms of natural talent – no. In terms of skill – no. In terms of reading music – no. Etc etc…you get my drift. But in terms of playing the right beat for the song, in terms of knowing what to play and when to play it – Ringo is one of the most influential, most copied, most underrated and most beloved drummers of all time. It helps being in perhaps the most celebrated and popular band of all time, The Beatles. Unfortunately some people have not appreciated Ringo because he isn’t “technically” a good player. And they’ll use the argument that he couldn’t play to a click, he didn’t (supposedly) play on all of The Beatles songs, and that Paul McCartney said he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles. I must admit I used to snub Ringo. But once I delved into his playing, his unique, left-handed on a right-handed kit style, his sloppy hi hat hits, his inventive drumming – I came to love him. I mean, Ringo has played some really cool beats over the years, ‘Rain’ being a great example. What about ‘Ticket To Ride’? ‘Come Together’? ‘The End’? ‘Helter Skelter?’ ‘Help?’ Of course, there are so many more great Ringo moments. What are yours? Leave a comment below.
Ringo still plays drums and tours into his 70s, wearing well for his age – and currently has drumming legend Gregg Bissonette, one of my favourite drummers of all time (and who is a Christian himself) playing in his band.
Gregg constantly talks up Ringo’s skills in interviews and mentions things such as: what about the “coolness” factor? Ringo looked great behind that beautiful Ludwig drum set! He had a big hand in making Ludwig drums famous worldwide. And let’s not forget Ringo also helped made Modern Drummer magazine famous by giving them the 1st interview he had done in a long time – back in 1982. Here’s a snippet from that interview:
MD: What were the highlights of your time in the Beatles, in terms of the band and your playing?
8th July 2015
And another ‘Church Drummer’ cover! It’s been a few months but here’s the latest one: Chris Tomlin’s ‘God of Angel Armies (Whom Shall I Fear).’ A great song from his 2013 album ‘Burning Lights.’ Nice drumming from both Paul Mabury and Travis Nunn throughout the album. Enjoy!
19th January 2015
My latest drum cover – Hillsong Y&F’s ‘Wake!’ Check it out!
1st August 2014
On the subject of practising, here are a few useful tips from one of Hillsong’s top drummers, Rolf Wam Fjell:
1. Take a 10 min run before practicing. Benefit: mentally more alert and physically firing up your systems.
2. Eat a banana before practicing / playing. Benefit: quick carbs + potassium straight to your system. Benefit: More power.
3. Do a proper carb load before big events. Lots of pasta etc. And drink MUCH water. Benefit: sustained energy.
4. Track your progress. Week one paradiddles @ 120bpm. Week two paraddidles @ 127bpm etc. Benefit: systematic progress.
9th July 2014
I thought the MusicAdemy article on top 10 do’s and don’ts for drummers in Church was really good. But I thought I’d also share one further thing I’ve encountered in my journey so far…but it is a major thing.
LISTENING. I don’t mean listening and learning the set list for Sunday. I don’t mean on a lyrical point of view. I mean listening to music. Lots of music. Not just the latest worship albums. Secular music. To be a bit forthright, I sometimes get through one of the latest mainstream worship albums and find it slightly difficult to not feel slightly bored by the third or fourth song. Yes, there is a distinctive sound, and that’s no major flaw, but a huge strength. But it’s a stylistic thing. I’m not trying to criticize it, nor could I justifiably because of the impact they and others have had on Contemporary Worship music. But it’s mainstream stuff. For the masses. And it sounds great. The lyrics are good, the musicianship is good. But…how did they form their sound? Through extensive listening…to secular music predominantly! Of course I don’t want to make this sound like an exercise, but why not challenge yourself to listen to more and more music? Funk, rock, metal, jazz, fusion, Latin pop, R&B, etc etc? Learn from great musicians, listen to great drummers, enjoy expanding your horizons. Do your research. With so much music available online there are virtually no boundaries. You’ll find that it’s really helpful in your development as a musician. Enjoy!
What about this for a listening exercise, check out these bands:
9th May 2014
Steve Gadd is one of my favourite drummers of all time. Actually, one of my favourite musicians of all time. Steve changed the way drums were played. Of course, many before him led the way: Buddy Rich with his technical and musical brilliance, Louie Bellson and Gene Krupa swinging the big bands, Max Roach’s melodic philosophy, Roy Haynes snap, crackle and pop, Elvin Jones polyrhythmic phrases etc etc. The list could and should go on. But back to Gadd. He is a one-off. He is a pocket master. His individual style saw him being elevated as a drummer and emulated. He took marching band rudiments and made them groove in rock, pop jazz, funk, fusion, big band, latin and more. He played musically and thought only to enhance the music. He never over-played or missed a beat. He always meant what he executed. He could totally beast his chops with artists like Steely Dan and Michel Petrucciani. He could just lay back and swing playing crotchets and you would still recognise his sound. He could groove on his Yamaha drums and you would recognise the tone and the way he hit them. He influenced countless drummers and raised the bar with how drums should sound and support the band.
For this first article in a series before my videos go up online I would like to highlight Steve Gadd, one of the most important drummers of all time.
31st January 2014
One of the most influential, inspiring, and spontaneous forces in jazz, Tony Williams remains a classic example of artistry transcending technical analysis. In the October 2011 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, writer Jeff Potter explains Tony’s genius and influence, while in the following MD Online exclusive, Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun shares his own insightful memories of the late, great drummer.
21st August 2013
The Church Drummer Videos, January 2012 Sessions. Posted on Vimeo and YouTube: here’s a mixture.
YouTube Channel: Brian Macleod
How Great Is Our God
Blessed Be Your Name
Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
Shout To The Lord
Mighty To Save:
In Christ Alone
My Drum Solo:
10th April 2013
Carlos Benson, Director of Drummers for Jesus, interviews Vinnie Colaiuta at the Christian Musicians Summit
INTERVIEW WITH VINNIE COLAIUTA – PART I
CB: With all the religions in the world, why Christianity?
VC: Wow, that’s a great question. One thing that I’m apt to think is that God came to me and sought me in a sense. Because see, I grew up in a Catholic background, although I was not what you might call a “GOOD, PRACTICING” Catholic, it seems as though in my younger years of childhood growing up I believed in Jesus and what I knew about him. Of course there was no scripture teaching so that was all really a mystery to me. And as I grew into adulthood I remember, I would like to say, for maybe ten years, I’m just throwing a wild number out there, before I got saved in 1998, that I had gradually found myself seeking spiritual answers, reaching out to spiritual values and higher values and spirituality and had sort of racked my brain philosophically and coming up empty. I found myself bargaining with God and I realized a lot of things. Wanting to know answers. It’s real easy for us to come up with answers to satisfy ourselves and appease our curiosity. After a lot of questioning and searching I think that God had engineered these circumstances providentially to bring me to him and that led up to me going to Switzerland [where friends of Vinnie would lead him to Christ]. So, it wasn’t like a situation where I was “SHOPPING” and looked at a laundry list: “Buddhism, Hinduism, etc, oh Christianity – that one looks good.”