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Steve Gadd Band

Way Back Home, Live from Rochester, NY

BFM JAZZ 302 062 435 2 [67:11 + 2 DVDs]

 

 

 

Green Foam

Cavailiero

Africa

Way Back Home

Bye Bye Blackbird

Desu

Oh, Yeah!

Them Changes

Additionally on DVD

The Wind Up

The Long Way Home

Duke’s Anthem

Sly Boots

Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugelhorn): Larry Goldings (keyboards): Michael Landau (guitar): Jimmy Johnson (bass): Steve Gadd (drums)

Recorded 26 June 2015, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY

Includes CD, DVD of concert and DVD of interviews

 

There’s no expense spared in this Steve Gadd gatefold album which provides no fewer than three discs. The first is the audio component of the live concert at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, the second is the DVD of the concert – note carefully the contents as the DVD contains more music than the CD – and finally there’s a bonus DVD of interviews with such players as Chuck Mangione, Tony Levin, Steve Gadd himself and numerous others. The reason was the celebration of the drummer’s 70th birthday and where better than in his home town of Rochester during the 2015 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

The repertoire contains material from his 70 Strong and Gattitude albums but includes band compositions too and a standard in the shape of Bye Bye Blackbird , Them Changes and Way Back Home. The music is Gadd’s brand of soulful fire though you’ll have to beware of the track listing which is for the DVD. If you’re playing the CD you’ll find yourself in a heap of trouble and wish you had the Press Release sheet which correctly lists the tracks on both CD and DVD (BFM Jazz: please note).

Gadd’s multi-variegated responses and drum patterns are plainly to be heard on Green Foam, where Walt Fowler unleashes his inner Clark Terry and Martin Landau threads things together adeptly in the metre-changing complexities of the piece. It’s always a tonic to encounter Cavaliero, Larry Goldings’s exuberant piece of Iberian panache, its vibrancy fully met by the band’s corporate brio and colourful exuberance. This is equally so in the long Africa, where timbral subtlety is to the fore, as well keyboard filigree, a resonant bass line from the excellent Jimmy Johnson and the Milesian wistfulness of Fowler’s muted soloing. There’s a lot going on here – in terms of thematic and metrical play as well as sound pictures and patterns. Way Back Home sports bluesy trumpet licks, spunky keyboard playing and a gathering weight and density that announce an outburst of sheer funkiness.

By contrast the band honours Bye Bye Blackbird with elegance, precision and tightness and similarly plays Desu with suppleness (guitar), sonic interest (keyboards) and rich lyricism (trumpet) underpinned at all times by Gadd’s magisterial work. Them Changes is feisty and triumphant and shows the band flying high. The DVD is well filmed and in good sound, and you do get the extra four tracks that you won’t find on the CD, so don’t omit it. The interview DVD introduces a raft of friends and family in addition to those already noted and they offer engaging and admiring comments on Gadd. If you’re a fan you’ll find nuggets here. This then is a fine package and further evidence that Gadd is playing pretty much as well as ever.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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