WBGO Radar

Steve Gadd Band: "70 Strong"

drummer steve gadd

Drummer Steve Gadd feels so many beats it's probably hard for him to sit still.

Hard for you to sit still, as you've heard Steve through the years. He's kept impeccable time with... Paul Simon, James Taylor, Van McCoy, Herbie Mann, the Brecker Brothers...

Shall I go on? Steps Ahead, Chick Corea, Stevie Wonder, Joe Farrell, Chuck Magione, Bob James. And countless others on the New York session scene.

In a single year he served both James Brown and Aretha Franklin!

So many beats.

Marking a milestone, his 70th year on planet rhythm, Gadd celebrates with a gang that includes Walt Fowler on trumpet & flugelhorn, Larry Goldings on keyboards & accordian, bassist Jimmy Johnson and guitarist Michael Landau.

"70 Strong" opens convincingly with "Foam Home", a group written piece which makes the easy chair not so easy to sit in. It's a soulful funky greeting of more to come.

Eddie Harris's classic, "Freedom Jazz Dance," has an Eddie meets Miles step, with a few of Harris' titles quoted along the way, Fowler's trumpet and Landau's guitar lighting the way.

"Written In Stone," charted by Larry Goldings, has an easy feel, and could fit nicely behind a "Sketches Of Spain" motif. Goldings' accordian, Landau's guitar and Fowler's trumpet blend nicely with Gadd's loping feel.

Written by guitarist Landau, "The Long Way Home" shows the interplay we enjoyed on Gadd's previous release, Gadditude. Here all get a chance to stretch on a trip that doesn't seem so long at all.

"Sly Boots," written by Goldings, is a stepped-up funk filled piece, showing the solid feel of the group and Gadd's signature fluid feel for rhythm. It's the spark that defines this entire release.

Trumpeter Walt Fowler wrote "Duke's Anthem" in tribute to George Duke. It's a bluesy  relaxed salute to a musical life we sorely miss.

Another Goldings piece, "Elegant Squares" simmers with all five burners lit.

"De Volta Ao Samba"(Back to the Samba) by Brazilian singer Chico Buarque puts a breezy feel to the mix, showing a diversity this group is happy to share.

Jan Hammer's tune, "Oh, Yeah?" is a funk-filled number harkening back to those Brecker Brother days Gadd was round for.

The set ends with "Blues For...". Written by guitarist Landau, it conveys a spirit that these five were naturals to return to the studio.

"70 Strong" comes out April 7. Once again, Steve Gadd has inspired his musical friends to show their might in the music.\\

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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