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Steve Smith: Vital Beats

Vital Information: Coster, Smith, Browne and Gambale

While some might argue that the golden age of jazz was long gone by the late 1960s, drummer Steve Smith disagrees. “In some ways, it was one of the best times in music history, all the way around. I’m talking about pop, jazz and jazz-rock-all of it.”

Smith discovered big-band jazz right around the time he picked up the sticks at age nine, and he saw as many bands as he could in his hometown of Boston. When he attended Berklee School of Music from 1972 to 1976, fusion groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Eleventh House were making waves at the same time as Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. “When I look back on it, I really absorbed just about everything there was in the U.S. musical tradition,” he says.

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