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The Low End

Part 2: The Mysterious Inner Workings of the Rhythm Section--A Bass Player

By Published: July 3, 2004
I remember having the opportunity to play with Steve Gadd in the studio, as well as live, some decades ago. This man is a human metronome. The first day while getting sounds, I took my handy pocket recorder and put it next to the studio monitors to have a sample of Mr. Gadd’s playing (that’s sample, not sampling ) for my own analysis.

I took the tape home and I played it in sync with a metronome. Well, let me tell you something: I had five minutes worth of Gadd’s playing on that tape and the time stayed with the metronome for all of it. Obviously, there was no doubt whose time I would rely on!

The next day, we started tracking, and my time deficiencies showed up within four measures. I was so far on top of the beat (mind you, I was excited about being on the session with a legend) that it became obvious to me that I had to do some major readjusting with my ‘feel.’

In contrast, when playing live with Gadd, I was awed by his intensity. His ability to adapt, to play with such intricate precision and passion was a real benchmark to match my playing against. This was the ultimate time lesson for me.

The Finale

Every bassist and drummer pair have a special relationship—whether it’s the first time they’ve played together or the 91st time. The strength of that relationship—even if it is a temporary one—is projected on the bandstand through every note of every song. When a personal connection is made, a more genuine meaningful musical exchange can take place. And that makes the gig a hell of a lot more fun than dealing with four-hour power struggle.

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