Steve Gadd at Bodø Jazz Open, 2014
|Stephen Kendall Gadd|
|Born||April 9, 1945|
Irondequoit, New York, U.S.
Stephen Kendall Gadd (born April 9, 1945) is an American drummer, percussionist, and session musician. Gadd is one of the most well-known and highly regarded session and studio drummers in the industry, recognized by his induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1984. Gadd's performances on Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "Late in the Evening" and Steely Dan's "Aja" are examples of his style. He has worked with popular musicians from many genres including Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Joe Cocker, Grover Washington Jr., Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Al Di Meola, Kenny Loggins, Eric Clapton, Michel Petrucciani, and Toshiki Kadomatsu.
Gadd grew up in Irondequoit, New York. He started playing the drums at a very early age. At age 11, he entered the Mickey Mouse National Talent Round Up contest and was one of the winners; he won a trip to California, where he met Walt Disney and appeared on The Mickey Mouse Club, where he played the drums and did a tap dancing routine. Gadd attended and graduated from Eastridge High School, then attended the Eastman School of Music, graduating in 1968. He was then drafted into the United States Army, where he spent the next three years playing drums in the Army Band.
In 1973, Gadd formed the short-lived jazz fusion band L'Image with Mike Mainieri, Warren Bernhardt, David Spinozza and Tony Levin. Also in 1973, he started playing on numerous albums for the jazz label CTI Records, backing artists like Milt Jackson, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Jim Hall, and Hubert Laws. Gadd played drums on the title track of Steely Dan's 1977 jazz-rock album Aja; the drum solo he played at the end of the song has become "the stuff of legend", according to a 2019 Jazziz article, with its "explosive tom-tom runs and crisp cymbal grooves". Other notable recordings from the 1970s are Van McCoy's hit "The Hustle" (1975), Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" (1975), Ricky Lee Jones' "Chuck E.'s in Love" (1979) and the Chick Corea albums "The Leprechaun" (1976), "My Spanish Heart" (1976), "The Mad Hatter" (1978), and "Friends" (1978).
In 1981, he played drums and percussion for Simon and Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park.
Gadd was a member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet from its founding in 1983 until he left in 1987, replaced by Dave Weckl, although he reunited with the group several times since then. The group has only officially released its albums in Japan, and is best known there.
Gadd toured the entire year 1991 with Paul Simon. He recorded and toured with Eric Clapton in 1994/1996 and again from 1997 to 2004. 1997 also saw him on a world tour in a trio with the French jazz great Michel Petrucciani and his long-time band colleague, bassist Anthony Jackson (captured on the Trio in Tokyo live album). Gadd played on the blues album Riding with the King along with B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, and a few others. In 2009, Gadd returned to Clapton's band to play 11 nights at the Royal Albert Hall and was part of Clapton's touring band throughout May 2009. Also in 2009, Gadd reunited with L'Image, and the group performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, toured Japan and Europe, and released the album L'Image 2.0.
Gadd has also worked with Chet Baker, Tony Banks, Jon Bon Jovi, Bee Gees, George Benson, Edie Brickell, Kate Bush, Stanley Clarke, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Chick Corea, Jim Croce, Christopher Cross, Pino Daniele, Paul Desmond, Al Di Meola, Art Farmer, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Gómez, Dave Grusin, Bob James, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, The Manhattan Transfer, Paul McCartney, Michael McDonald, Michel Petrucciani, Bonnie Raitt, Return to Forever, Diana Ross, David Sanborn, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Steps Ahead, Barbra Streisand, Stuff, Richard Tee, Michal Urbaniak, and Dionne Warwick.
Gadd endorses and uses Yamaha drums, pedals and hardware,Zildjian cymbals,Remo drumheads,Latin Percussion,Earthworks microphones,Vic Firth sticks and brushes and Beato bags.
Gadd uses the Steve Gadd Commemorative kit, which Yamaha made for the 30th anniversary of his collaboration with the company. The kit consists of a 22"×14" maple bass drum and 12"x8", 13"x9", 14"x12" and 16"x14" birch tom toms. He uses his 14"x5.5" Yamaha Steve Gadd signature steel snare drum with wood hoops, which also comes in birch and maple versions, and he has started to endorse the newer Yamaha Recording Custom series.
Gadd has also used a Yamaha Club Custom drum kit in a blue swirl finish.
Gadd also has Vic Firth sticks with his signature on them. The drumsticks are very light and thin, black in color, and have normal "wood color" on the tips. There is also an identical model with nylon tips. The stick is slightly shorter than the American Classic 5A, and features a barrel tip for improved recording sound. It is in (40.0 cm) long and the diameter is .550 in (1.40 cm). In addition to having his own signature stick, he has his own signature brushes. These brushes are intended to solve the problem of wire brushes snagging on new coated drumheads by slightly angling the wires in the top 3/4 inches (1.9 cm) of the playing end. The wires glide across the head, allowing a smoother sweep and a velvet swish sound.
Gadd uses a variety of Remo heads: a Coated Powerstroke 3 on the batter side of the snare with a Hazy Diplomat on the resonant side of the snare, Clear Pinstripes or Coated Ambassadors on the batter sides of toms, and Clear Ambassadors for the resonant sides. He is using a Coated Powerstroke 3 both on his snare and kick drum.
He also has an LP Steve Gadd signature cowbell, modelled on the LP Mambo cowbell that he has used since the 1970s.
With Manhattan Jazz Quintet