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Steve Gadd: The JazzTimes Interview

A wide-ranging chat with the prolific drummer

Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd (photo: Rob Shanahan)
Steve Gadd drumming with Stuff at the 1980 Berkeley Jazz Festival
Steve Gadd
Chick Corea and Steve Gadd, backstage at the 1980 Berkeley Jazz Festival

It would be neither a stretch nor a slight to call Steve Gadd a drummer’s drummer. Over the last 40 years he has developed a recognizable but adaptable style, always working in service of the groove. He’s best known for some indelible performances on pop classics from the 1970s: Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Rickie Lee Jones’ “We Belong Together,” Steely Dan’s “Aja.” He has long been the drummer of choice for Eric Clapton, and he’s prominently featured on a pair of recent albums by British art-rock icon Kate Bush. But he grew up with jazz, and has worked memorably with pianists Chick Corea and Michel Petrucciani, guitarists George Benson and Al Di Meola, and countless others.

On his own recordings, Gadd usually favors an earthy mix of funk and soul-jazz. His new album, Gadditude (BFM Jazz), includes tunes by Keith Jarrett and Abdullah Ibrahim, and a roster made up of Gadd’s fellow sidemen in James Taylor’s band: trumpeter Walt Fowler, guitarist Michael Landau, pianist and organist Larry Goldings and bassist Jimmy Johnson.

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