So, in attempting to catch the great drummers that were my influences very early on…and especially since I didn’t think to or just was too young to understand that the drummer in the band, sometimes did not play on all (or even part) of the album.
What I really hope to convey to readers here, (and young drummers in particular) how crucial “listening” is to the musician or aspiring to play with others, both on a local or international level.
When we ‘actively listen’ as in; start to notice the drum parts or what any of the other instruments are doing to either build the song or maybe a certain part they’re adding. We’re really getting some of the information we’ll use in our own musical journey.
Starting with some drummers that I was hearing before I knew who was playing.
James Gadson– [Need to mention he’s the drummer on often sampled “Express Yourself” -and the insanely funky “Kissing my Love”-both tunes sampled to no end…] He also recorded “Use Me,” “Lean on Me,” and the funky “Kissing my Love”– I had been hearing James with Bill Withers, as he was in his band for a while as well as being on over 300 records as a session drummer… although he’s ever humble and he’ll never bring it up.
Maurice White -Earth Wind & Fire, (I even had orange pants cause I probably saw Verdine and the guys wearing stuff like that in a video or on a TV show–and I think I really wanted to be in EWF)
Harvey Mason– Learned about Harvey from another drummer from Eau Claire, WI… Who started this ‘regional club’ -that a few of us, who met at Jazz Band Camp- (for real- haha!) … We called ourselves “The Funk Club” (not a very imaginative name- but it was about the music anyway). During the summer between the jr.-sr. H.S. year -I would drive 80 miles to Eau Claire to hang out with ‘The Funk Club’. we would blast funk and Soul music at parties and even rented a generator to power the bigger home stereo at lake parties, pumping the likes of Harvey’s own record, “Funk in a Mason Jar”.
Lenny White– I did actually realize Lenny’s name and drumming… At about that same time, I was spending a lot of time with the Brothers Johnson album, and Chick Corea’s -MusicMagic-Return to Forever band (where Gerry Brown played drums instead of Lenny White).
Billy Cobham– The “RED BARON”– Influential to many… However, at the time I was a little younger- and Billy’s speed of his single stroke rolls is most likely what stuck out to me.
I later saw Billy Cobham with his band in concert, at the culmination of a week-long workshop he held in Mesa, AZ. _(Note: half of the band only arrived the day before the concert and that may be one of the top 10 tightest groups and (absolutely from Mr. Cobham) definitely cleanest, accurate drumming I have witnessed in a while… regardless that Billy I think was 71 on that concert!
Ralph McDonald– Another heavy influence during the summers surrounding and including ‘The Funk Club’ (He’s on pretty much any album Harvey Mason was on at that time)… and has a great body of work besides.
Clyde Stubblefield/Jabo Sparks You’ve heard them!! -The Drummers of James Brown… Clyde has never been adequately compensated for the many times others have sampled and added his beat(s) to their records. (well over a thousand recordings that sampled his beat and groove as played on “The Funky Drummer”… Those two drummers are responsible for many hits of James Brown and have been recognized in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, among others.
*J.G. addendum: – [I had the pleasure of meeting James when he was the “house drummer” -doing a jam session at (Harvelle’s) _(The home of my first steady gig -right after getting to LA… Saturday nights for probably a year…with the “Blowin’ Smoke” band -an 11-piece R&B/Soul Band (5 horns, 3 lead singers).
I still remember the feeling of Mr. Gadson complimenting me again (maybe he was just being encouraging to a young drummer- he’s a kind and very humble man)… after I got off ‘my turn’ at another jam session at “Cozy’s” (closed around 2009-10?) -Where I also played several gigs -(most drummers in SF valley of LA I think worked there).]
Thanks for reading,