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Dave Weckl: The Cymbal of Excellence

Jim Worsley By

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AAJ: In 1983, at twenty three years of age and looking for a break, you get a chance to audition for Simon & Garfunkel. How did that come about? What was the audition like? What did that feel like to perform with them if front of 70,000 people?

DW: The audition came in the form of a live gig (with Ronnie Cuber I believe), that again, because AJ highly recommended me, Paul Simon actually showed up in a limo (again to 7th Ave South!), came upstairs, sat down, heard the show and left. I got the call the next day.

Performing with S&G was just mind blowing. The band was awesome, with Richard Tee playing keys and Musical Directing, the late great Gerry Niewood on sax, Airto on percussion, and yes, playing a stadium tour was off the hook. I don't think anyone is prepared for the sound that 60-80k people can make when all yelling and clapping, directing it to the stage. Overwhelming really! Paul was always very keen to take his old songs and rearrange them. We did "Me and Julio" as a salsa funk tune! Fantastic

AAJ: You have played with so many artists over the years, that it is almost difficult to single out any one or two. Having said that, you are perhaps best known by many for your work with Chick Corea. Can you even begin to describe what it is like to play with Corea and those cats in the Elektric Band? As recently as last year you did a reunion tour with all the original members. Any plans or possibilities of that happening again?

DW: The Electric Band was, and still is, a very special unit, that has only matured with time. We all have a great time getting back together, and it happens basically when Chick feels it to happen, so besides a date in September in Japan this year, I know of no other plans to hit again.

Playing with Chick was really a dream come true.. I had listened to and played along with a lot of his records (with Gadd on them mostly), so I was pretty well versed in his playing style, phrasings, etc. Together with John Patitucci, we hit it off right away when things got going in early 1985. Although very analytical and having a good idea about what he wants, Chick is and was always very cool about giving us space to create. I feel lucky and honored to have played so much with him over the years. With the Akoustic Band as well, we have a great time!

AAJ: I have had the great pleasure of seeing and hearing you play live several times. Most recently at both the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood and the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. There are some subtle differences in your approach when playing with Mike Stern as opposed to Oz Noy. I can hear it, but can't put it into words. Perhaps you could. Also a different connect with Kennedy than that with Anthony Jackson or Jimmy Haslip.

DW: Well, my playing (and sometimes equipment) changes and adapts to whomever I am playing with. It also has to do with the music style and the compositions. The biggest difference in playing with Mike versus Oz, besides the obvious compositional and playing differences, is the feel approach. Mike generally likes to have the feel be bright and on top. Oz has more of an exacting laid-back feel, so it is quite an adjustment go from one to the other. Oz also has many more textures than Mike, with his extensive pedals set up, so I find myself not having to look to fill missing textures where the music is concerned with Oz. Mike's gig is a bit more jazz oriented as well, whereas Oz's is more groove based, but still space to blow. Both are fun and challenging!

The bassist aspect kind of works into this overall musical approach difference. Everyone is different, so it affects how I hear and play things as well. It is part of the enjoyment of being in the moment with whomever you are playing with. Some moments are better or worse, or more comfortable or not, than others. But the challenge is to make it all work musically, and find the way to make it a positive situation with whomever you're playing with.

AAJ: You have released many fine records as a leader. There can be a substantial difference in the material from one record to another. Is this within the relevance of changing times or a desire to diversify or perhaps a combination of those things? How much do the leanings of particular musicians chosen to play on a given record determine the concept from the outset?

DW: When I first started to release records in the early 90's, they were 'project records,' meaning no real direction to accommodate a 'band,' or certain musicians. Jay and I wrote the material first, based on our own musical and creative ideas, then decided who would play on a given song(s)... at times we were writing with musicians in mind though, for sure, and hired them.

Starting with 'Rhythm of the Soul,' we started writing for a band project, one that we could play the material live and go on tour. That stayed the MO through my 'Stretch/Concord' years, with 3 different iterations of the band, and five or six recordings.

In recent years ('14,'15), I released two records, on what technically is my own 'label.' One was an Acoustic group (Dave Weckl Acoustic Band—Of the Same Mind), where we recorded and toured live. The other was another project recording with my old friend/partner Jay Oliver (same as all the early records), called Convergence. This was a mega project, that included crowd funding, instructional play along packages, and a very complete, but was well worth it. I'm very proud of both of those projects.

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Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Nov6Wed
Oz Noy Trio Featuring Dave Weckl And Hadrien Feraud
Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH
$30

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