The Drummers Collective, arguably the leading school for jazz drumming in the world, celebrated its 25th anniversary in '02, and thankfully Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis of Hudson Music were thereto record the event, featuring a wide range of drummers and styles. Mixing it in with the annual Bass Day celebration, the scope of the event was further broadened to include a host of fine bassists. Drummers Collective 25th Anniversary Celebration & Bass Day 2002
is a fine two-DVD collection with nearly five-and-a-half hours of concert footage, interviews and other features that commemorate the Drummers Collective's outstanding achievements, with a fitting tribute to past achievements and a firm eye on future ones.
Some of the performances are clearly aimed at drummers, although Steve Smith's extended and narrated solo works for non-drummers alike, as he explains the various time signatures and polyrhythms throughout, making it an interesting lesson in the role of the drummer that anyone can appreciate. The interviews are both informative and insightful, as the various participants discuss their relationship with the Drummers Collective and how they do what they do.
Bïla Fleck and the Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten gives a solo performance that, yet again, explains why he is one of the most respected electric bassists working today. While he possesses frightening technique, it is the sheer musicality of his talent that pervades, as he builds a variety of loops over which he develops an in-the-moment composition. Drummer Dave Weckl's band contribute some high-octane fusion/funk, while Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, with John Patitucci on bass and keyboardist Oriente Lopez, delivers a blend that truly brings Cuban music into the 21st century.
But the real highlight of the collection is the performance by Steve Gadd and the Gadd Gang, an all-star group of players who demonstrate that, for all the chops in the world, the best music is that which moves the spirit. The interesting thing about Gadd's work throughout his career is how, while in possession of formidable ability, his choice for solo projects has always been seemingly straightforward groove music. In his hands he shows that technical ability is meaningless unless it is in service of the song, and with a set of soulful R&B/Blues based material, Gadd and the group define the term "in the pocket."
Exceptionally well-recorded and loaded with bonus features, Drummers Collective 25th Anniversary Celebration & Bass Day 2002 succeeds at being informative and entertaining. Heavily weighted towards the concert footage, the collection serves as both a commemoration and an engaging concert DVD. While the DVD will appeal more to drum and bass fans, there is plenty of plain good music here to give this title a broader appeal.
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Dave Weckl Band: Dave Weckl (drums), Tom Kennedy (bass), Steve Weingart (keyboards), Gary Meek (saxophone)
Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez/John Patitucci Trio: Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez (drums), John Patitucci (bass), Oriente Lopez (keyboards)
Victor Wooten (bass) Solo and with special guest Felix Pastorius (bass)
Steve Smith (drums) Solo and in duet with Victor Wooten (bass)
Steve Gadd and the Gadd Gang: Steve Gadd (drums), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Larry Goldings (Hammond B-3, piano), Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax), Eddie Gomez (bass)
Kenwood Dennard (drums) Solo
Collective Faculty Ensembles featuring Memo Acevedo, Louis Bauzo, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Korman, Michael Lauren, Irio O'Fareill, Tim Ouimette, Kim Plainfield, Leo Traversa, Bob Quarenta