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.
2nd July 2012
This video has been up for a few weeks now on YouTube but I haven’t actually posted it via my website. So here it is, my final video…a drum solo. As I said on the YouTube notes, it was literally me blowing all my frustrations from two days filming as it was the very last thing that was filmed. Coming up later on in the week will be two new tracks on my SoundCloud channel, so keep posted for that.
11th May 2012
This is a continuation of a series of things that have inspired me to be a better musician. The next thing I would like to speak well of is Modern Drummer Magazine. I have to unashamedly admit that I’m a bit of a magazine geek. I always have been. I loved trying to create my own sort of magazines as a youngster and still have a big collection of football magazines. In February 2004 I bought my first issue of Modern Drummer. It was one of the first times I had ever seen a drum magazine, I didn’t really think they existed. And, for one to be in a newsagent in Stornoway, I was taken with it. To go with that, Travis Barker, my favourite drummer at the time was on the cover. I have since collected every issue (just about). And with that I have learnt a lot about drummers, music, general concepts and tips, sight reading as well as interviews with today’s top pros and how they work in the industry. In short, I think Modern Drummer has influenced countless drummers across its history. I also have one of the book’s they published for their 30th anniversary (titled “The Drummer”) and some special editions (“Drum Gods I & II”). All in all, it continually inspires me month after month and I look forward to every issue. Call me a geek or whatever, but Modern Drummer has inspired me in so many ways and continues to do so.
Here is an article from the website, showing just one of the many good points of MD.
13th February 2012
Some more great drumming videos!
Manu Katche – (Most famous for playing on Peter Gabriel’s “So”)
8th February 2012
I think its really great to listen to new and exciting music from time to time. You hear and appreciate a new aspect of musicianship you never used to. Here are some drummers I’ve really appreciated learning from recently. Whilst most of the videos are based around jazz, I do believe that there is a lot to be learned from them all. So, about these concepts. How do they work and how are they to be approached? Below are drummers who master in funk, New Orleans, jazz, bebop, fusion and brush styles. Please do check them out! There are some incredible drummers whom I currently am inspired by. I truly believe there’s a lot to be learnt from any style, so keep your ears open to different genres. Click on their name to link to their website.
Dave Weckl (see his work with Chick Corea, Mike Stern and his own band. One of my all-time favourite drummers.)
[youtube_sc url=”izzlz5nJUs8″ width=”670″ height=”377″]
13th January 2012
Another of my favourite drummers is Russ Miller. A well-known session player who has played with artists such as Nelly Furtado and Cher as well as on many soundtracks such as Lethal Weapon 4 and The Killing Game. His 2008 DVD/CD play-along release, Arrival – Behind the Glass, is a great instructional manual. I highly recommend it. In the DVD he plays different styles of music, many of them drum duets with legends such as Steve Gadd, Jeff Hamilton, Johnny Rabb and Rick Marotta . He then breaks down each song, along with the concepts involved. There are performances of each song on the DVD, as well as play-alongs of most of the tracks, with excellent charts and notation in the e-book to go with it. Here is an excerpt of his e-book, showing a unique perspective on timekeeping:
‘ Timekeeping: It is so important to be able to keep consistent time. It is very difficult to create a “Pulse” when the timekeeping is inconsistent. Time is not the beats per minute of a piece of music. That is only one part of timekeeping. Most players get the fact that the meter has to be consistent. It is very obvious when someone’s meter is having major problems. It is not so obvious when the second part of keeping time is having an issue. That is the “Subdivision” between the beats. Subdivision is the space between the notes that we play. Controlling this space is the key to everything that we perform. Your mind and body need to hear and feel what it is like to play in perfect time. We are not robots, but we should strive for being as solid as possible. If everyone in the ensemble has great time, it will always sound really tight. This is the reason great players can play a song for the first time together and sound so “rehearsed.” ‘
Russ Miller Arrival E-Book pp4-5.
Russ Miller’s Official Website
Review of “Arrival: Behind the Glass” from Drummer Cafe:
RUSS MILLER’S 3-DISC “ARRIVAL: BEHIND THE GLASS” DVD/CD SET COMBINES STELLAR PERFORMANCES WITH GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHT, INSTRUCTION AND PLAY-ALONG OPPORTUNITIES.
Presenting one of today’s leading drum artists along with a host of LA’s top studio musicians and more than a dozen of the world’s best-known drummers and percussionists, Arrival: Behind The Glass (Hudson Limited) by Russ Miller is an unprecedented, three-disc package that contains a full-length audio CD, a minus-drums play-along CD and a jam-packed DVD with artist interviews, extensive instructional content and documentary footage of these historic recording sessions.
“I had been working on the concepts and material for a new record more than two years when the idea of exploring how different musicians interpret rhythm and pulse came to me,” Russ explains. “Nine ‘superstars’ of the drum world agreed to be involved and we composed pieces featuring two full drumkit parts, based on the styles of the drummers I was going to play with. Then, those pieces became the inspiration for the songs with the band. This was a huge project and a very humbling, exciting and incredible learning experience for me.”
“Arrival”, the featured 80-minute audio CD, is Miller’s third independent record project and features ten new compositions performed by an all-star line-up of musicians, including world-class percussionistsPete Lockett, Luis Conte and Richie Gajate Garcia. Interspersed with these ensemble performances are nine “Rhythmic Conversations”- original drum duets between Russ and modern drum heroes Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Jeff Hamilton Rick Marotta, Zoro Johnny Rabb, John “JR” Robinson, Akira Jimbo and Wolfgang Haffner.
A second CD containing minus drums tracks and printable transcriptions of both parts of the drum duets, gives players an opportunity to sit in with some of the greatest drummers in the world and learn a variety of challenging rhythmic concepts and techniques.
Completing the multi-media learning system is a 3-hour and 20-minute DVD in which Miller demonstrates and explains how to analyze, play and develop many of the musical ideas used in the Arrival pieces. The DVD also includes interviews with all the drummers and documentary footage taken throughout the 3-year production process. Additional bonus features on the DVD are split-screen video for multiple views of the recording sessions, DTS 5.1 surround sound and an e-Book with printable charts and exercises as well as Pro-Tools® data files that allow the listener to re-mix the tracks.
One of Los Angeles’ top studio musicians, Russ Miller has recorded with a wide variety of internationally-acclaimed artists. He has also performed on more than 300 albums including multiple Grammy® award winning recordings as well as the soundtracks of many feature films. The five-time Modern Drummer Readers Poll winner has also released two books, three videos and two solo albums while remaining active as a clinician and part-time inventor of drum accessories.