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Notes From The Coast

Dave Weckl: On Time

By Published: December 19, 2012
DW : My playing depends on the music being played at any given moment, to try and support and fit in musically with the style of that music. I guess my approach would be considered precise, consistent, solid, and supportive. Some say technical. For me I just play what feels and sounds right to me, with the intent to always make it feel good. I was always challenged and inspired by technically precise players with a great feel as well; it's what turns me on, so that's what I practiced, and how I've always tried to play, to bring that same gratification to myself and others. The approach though, is very Zen0like, in the sense that I try to force nothing. Through the studies with Freddie I learned how to allow the laws of physics to help me play, to find the path of least resistance, and work together with my instrument (stick design, cymbal design, head choices, tuning, ergonomic set up) to achieve the desired touch and power with physical ease.

AAJ : What was the nicest and most personal compliment that you've received as a musician?

DW : From a musician I was playing with (supporting) who said, and I quote: "I play better and can get to my stuff easier when you play drums in my band."

AAJ : Do you recall your introduction to the world of jazz?

DW : My father introduced me to Dixieland when I was very young and then playing with him from time to time in the living room on piano and drums.

AAJ : What were the most challenging projects that you worked on and why?

DW : I have found myself in many challenging projects. I guess some of my years and recordings with Chick Corea would stand out as some of the most challenging. There were times when we had very little time to rehearse some of the complex music he would compose for a recording. We had to learn and own it very quickly, then record it. Sometimes all in the same day! My own band projects were very challenging as well, as I produced and mixed them all, so a lot of hats had to be worn.

AAJ : What were the most rewarding projects that you worked on and why?

DW : The Chick projects again would stand out. The early days of my career with Michel Camilo's band, with Anthony Jackson, [trumpeter] Lew Soloff
Lew Soloff
Lew Soloff
, saxophonist Chris Hunter
Chris Hunter
Chris Hunter
, [percussionist] Sammy Figueroa
Sammy Figueroa
Sammy Figueroa

were some really great moments live and on record. The tour I did with Simon and Garfunkel (60,000-seat stadiums tour). My first record, Masterplan (GRP, 1990), was very rewarding too, because it was the real first statement as a co- composer and co-producer.

AAJ : Which albums and projects are you most proud of and why?

DW: ; I think the live CD I recorded with my own band in 2003, Live and Very Plugged In (Concord, 2003) is one of my most accomplished works as a player, producer and mixing engineer.

AAJ : The desert island question....If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring 10 albums, which albums would you bring?

DW : I would want more than albums. But probably something from all genres: classical, jazz, rock, R&B, Latin, etc.

AAJ : What gives you the most joy out of playing?

DW: ; Playing together with great musicians of the same mentality, to make good music together. Being at a venue or stage where the sound is perfect, the audience is appreciative and receptive, and everything for me is working physically and mentally on '10.' That happens rarely, but it does happen. And when it does, that is the pure joy of it!

AAJ : What is the brand and model of your current drum set?

DW : I've played and endorsed Yamaha drums since 1983. I currently play their Phoenix line the most, but also play their Oak and other models on tours.

AAJ : Is there a story behind how you chose your drums over others?

DW: ; In the '80s, a lot of my favorite players were playing Yamaha. It was the sound I was after. Yamaha approached me when I got the Simon and Garfunkel tour. I said yes, and I am still there almost 30 years later.

AAJ : What is the brand of your cymbals?

DW : I play Sabian cymbals. I was given the opportunity, in early 2000, to create the sound and feel of how I wanted my cymbals to be, and helped develop a couple lines of cymbals with them, the HHX Evolution and Legacy lines. Both have my signature stamped on the bottom of the bell to denote the "signature" aspect of the lines. I'm very happy and proud of this creation. They sound great and are one of Sabian's best-selling lines, still to this day. Other companies are trying to somewhat copy what we did, which I'm flattered by. It's quite common now to see holes in cymbals, but with the HHX Evolution Ozone, part of the original Evolution line, We did it first, and it sounds like no other cymbal... it's awesome.

AAJ : How many pieces are in your current drum set?

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