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Steve Gadd Band: At Blue Note Tokyo

He’s back and he’s at it again. And by ‘at it’, I really mean at it, on it, around it and all about it. This is Steve Gadd, live with a band of top notchers who don’t and probably can’t put a foot wrong. Recorded in 2019 during their four night run at the legendary Blue Note Tokyo, the feel of the whole shebang is as authentic as you could hope for and paced to perfection. Initially you think that Gadd, guitarist David Spinozza, bassist Jimmy Johnson, keyboard man Kevin Hays and trumpet master Walt Fowler are simply there to woo the audience with a rhythmic sway, the opening quartet on this album shifting up and down through the gears in a remarkably relaxed style and yet, listen in close and you’ll discover that what’s going on underneath is anything other than relaxed. The mood and atmosphere of “One Point Five” alone enough to pull you right into a deep pocket from where Gadd conducts the whole event. I’d suggest that it’s no coincidence that the cover to this very release makes you double take as to whether it’s a drum stick or a conductor’s baton he’s swishing through the stars.

For Gadd-ites out there, this whole exercise is a masterclass of technique that’s wrapped within immense feel and touch, the circular stop startness of “Way Back Home” swaying you into a hypnotic state that is punctuated by Fowler’s expert trumpet incursions. Hays’ piano adds the Latin feel in abundance but somehow the whole thing remains contained and controlled in a way that still flows with such organic ease that you often doubt what you’re hearing; especially when Gadd lets loose just a little mid-song to ensure you know you’re in the presence of one of the best we’ve ever heard behind a drum kit.

It would be wrong to suggest that things whip into a frenzy as we reach the crescendo, and yet as the tempo is cleverly cranked as we negotiate “Bat Race” and the bluesy closing of “Watching The River Flow”, the latter of which finds Hays adding excellent vocals to the mix, you can’t help but get swept away with the vibe of this cleverly constructed show. Steve Gadd, who recently turned 75, is a genuine legend of the jazz and drumming world. Add in that he has the ability to surround himself with the best and has a tremendous catalogue of work from which to construct a set-list and it should be no surprise that At Blue Note Tokyo is the triumph that it is.

Track Listing
1. Where’s Earth?
2. Doesn’t She Know By Now
3. Timpanogos
4. One Point Five
5. Hidden Drive
6. Way Back Home
7. Walk With Me
8. Rat Race
9. Watching The River Flow

Added: April 10th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Steve Gadd online
Hits: 868
Language: english

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