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Artist’s Choice: Steve Smith on Young(er) Drum Masters

In tune with tradition, but bringing fresh ideas

Steve Smith
Mark Giuliana

Jazz musicians have a strong tradition of building on the foundation of the giants who came before. We often hear about how we must listen to “the masters,” the key players during the developmental years of jazz. I agree with this 100 percent and have done a plethora of historical homework. But I also look to the musicians who are a generation or more younger than me for new concepts and innovations. Historically it’s been the young players who bring new ideas to the music.

I’m 59 years old and came of age in the late ’60s/early ’70s. My generation is stylistically quite diverse, from Terry Bozzio, Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl to Jeff Hamilton, Adam Nussbaum, Kenny Washington and Lewis Nash. We now have new generations of jazz drummers who are in tune with the tradition and have brought some fresh ideas to the music. Here are some songs featuring drummers, all younger than me, whom I listen to for inspiration and ideas.

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