Dave Weckl: Rhythm Talk


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You have to have some sort of harmonic knowledge to piece all the instruments together. Like anything, else, the more influence you have from different things, the more knowledge you have to work with.
When any jazz enthusiasts start talking about drummers, one of the first names that comes to mind is sure to be Dave Weckl. This major innovator of modern jazz drumming has grooved with more players since he started playing in the New York club scene in the early '80s. His most notable stint started in 1985 when he was asked to be a part of the then-forming Chick Corea's Elektric Band, which he revived in 2004 after a break of over ten years.

Weckl has also made himself known on an array of solo projects and recordings, including Multiplicity, his latest, released in July, 2005. When he is not touring or writing songs for The Dave Weckl Band, he is devoting his time to teaching and furthering the design and sound of the drums.

AAJ was able to catch him for a moment during a show in Los Angeles, CA with guitarist Mike Stern and bassist Victor Wooten.

All About Jazz: Tell us about the projects you are working on right now?

Dave Weckl: Well, it is the end of the year for the Dave Weckl Band's tour. We have one more hit at the NAMM [National Association of Music Merchants] Show in Anaheim, California for Sabian Cymbals. After that show, we will be taking some time off to do some writing, I have a lot of recording projects going on here in Los Angeles and I am continuing with my teaching.

The next big tour my band will do is this April in Europe. For now, I am playing with the Mike Stern Band and doing some recording with him in January and possibly into February. My home recording site has also been taking off, which I advertise on my web site at www.daveweckl.com.

AAJ: What is different about these new recordings and past works?

DW: My last album, Multiplicity, was more of a fun, cooperative writing fest between all the musicians and me [guitarist Paul Pesco, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Gary Meek, keyboardist Steve Weingart, percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia and bassists Tom Kennedy and Ric Fierabracci, ]. We definitely have our own unit, or definition of sound that is our own thing. Even now we are talking about which direction we want to take the style of the sound the band has together.

AAJ: How do you, as a drummer, help mold the direction of the sound within the group?

DW: The drums are just one part of the equation; it is no different than taking any other part of the music and adding in your instrument. With any drum-oriented record, the rhythm will stand out and be interesting. Most of the rhythm is, of course, coming from me or I am heavily involved with the direction the rhythm is taking on the album.

AAJ: Do you write most of the music for the band or is it more of a collaboration with the other players?

DW: I tend to start out with a direction, because I have a limited amount of harmonic knowledge and am not that great of a keyboard player. I am still studying piano, but it's not my forte, my forte is coming up with individual parts and arrangements for a song.

With this last album, I did take more of an initiative to start the writing at both the keyboard and the drums, then piece it together on the computer and do more stuff like that.

AAJ: Do you find having more knowledge of the piano helps you with arrangements and writing?

DW: Well, it is necessary or you may sound pretty silly. You have to have some sort of harmonic knowledge to piece all the instruments together. Like anything else, the more influence you have from different things, the more knowledge you have to work with. With drums, it helps to know different cultures of rhythm, so I try to use my background or knowledge of different rhythms to input little things here and there in the music. If you have a better harmonic knowledge from all types of music like classical to rock to blues or whatever, the music will be deeper and fuller.

AAJ: Who, of all the musicians you have played with, has influenced you the most?

DW: Everyone a musician has played with influences that musician in some way. I would not really use the term influenced by, but more inspired by. I have been blessed to be able to play with a lot of really great artists and musicians.

AAJ: What are you working on with Sabian Cymbals?

DW: My work with Sabian started about four years ago when I was invited by the company to discuss possibly creating a line of cymbals that had my name on them. After investigating the Sabian line, I did find that they, nor any other company, had the sound that I was really after. So, to get the opportunity to be in the factory and fine-tune the cymbals, and to really work on the vision of the sound and the feel is important too.

AAJ: Are you endorsed by any other manufacturer?

DW: I have signature snare drums and sticks, and have worked with Remo on muffling devices, but this is my first chance to work with cymbals. The cymbals were a major project that I really had to be very involved with to create a new sound or tone. I left my signature very small under the bell, because I do not want them to be played just based on my involvement. I wanted to create a sound that I think would be appealing to a lot of people.

They have been! They have won all kinds of awards and are one of Sabian's best selling collections now.

The first collection is called Evolution and it is geared towards a cleaner sound, a lot of high fidelity shimmer quality with a low-end body. We have now finalized a new line called Legacy and it is kind of a dirtier, darker, trashier sound. More jazz or funk drummers really like that sound for a drier, dirtier sound. The Legacy line will debut at this year's NAMM show.

Keep a look out for the Dave Weckl Band, who will be touring this spring and possibly have a new album out by the end of 2006.

Selected Discography

Dave Weckl Band, Multiplicity (Stretch/Concord, 2005)
Chick Corea Elektric Band, To the Stars (Stretch/Concord, 2004)
Dave Weckl Band, Live: And Very Plugged In (Stretch/Concord, 2003)
Dave Weckl Band, Perpetual Motion (Stretch/Concord, 2002)
Dave Weckl Band, Transition (Stretch/Concord, 2000)
Dave Weckl Band, Synergy (Stretch/Concord, 1999)
Dave Weckl Band, Stretch (Stretch/Concord, 1999)
Dave Weckl Band, The Zone (Stretch/Concord, 1998)
Dave Weckl Band, Rhythm of the Soul (Stretch/Concord, 1998)
Dave Weckl, Hardwired (GRP/MCA, 1994)
John Patitucci, Mistura Fina (GRP, 1994)
Dave Weckl, J.K. Special (GRP/MCA 1993)
Michael Camilio, Rendezvous (Columbia, 1993)
Dave Weckl, Heads Up (GRP/MCA 1992)
Jim Hall, Youkali (CTI, 1992)
Natalie Cole, Unforgettable: With Love (Elektra, 1991)
Frank Gambale, Note Worker (JVC, 1991)
Chick Corea Elektric Band, Beneath The Mask (GRP, 1991)
Chick Corea Akoustic Band, Alive (GRP, 1991)
Dave Weckl, Master Plan (GRP/MCA 1990)
Steve Khan, Public Access (GRP, 1989)
Bireli Lagrene, Inferno (Blue Note, 1988)
Chick Corea Elektric Band, Eye of the Beholder (GRP, 1988)
Mike Stern, Upside Downside (Atlantic, 1986)
Tania Maria, Made in New York (EMI, 1985)
Bill Connors, Step It! (Evidence, 1984)

Related Article: Dave Weckl Band Kicks Off Tour in D.C. (2003)

Photo Credits:
Top Photo: Aigars Lapsa
Bottom Photo: Marek Lazarski

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