Steve Gadd / Steve Gadd & Friends

Live at Voce

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In 2009, veteran pop and jazz session drummer Steve Gadd hosted a rare club date that has resulted in an even rarer recording under his own name. On Live at Voce, Gadd fronts a jazz quartet also including Joey DeFrancesco (organ and trumpet), Ronnie Cuber (baritone saxophone), and Paul Bollenbeck (guitar). They turn in a hard bop blowing session that finds them giving jazzy readings to pop songs like Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow." An obvious choice, and the album's longest track at 11:45, is a version of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" that Gadd begins with his characteristic brushes-on-tom-toms sound before it turns into a horn challenge between Cuber and a muted DeFrancesco. These two dominate the solos throughout, whoever may be credited as leader. But Gadd does take the occasional solo, as does Bollenbeck. The players stretch the tracks out, often putting quotes from other songs in their leads, demonstrating their mastery of pop and jazz repertoire. This is not an album that is going to change jazz history or the career of Steve Gadd, but it sounds like it was fun to be in the club that night. [The deluxe edition of the album adds two tracks written and sung by Edie Brickell. Brickell's husband, Paul Simon, has employed Gadd frequently (that's him playing the signature snare part on "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," for instance), and she and Gadd have even formed a band, the Gaddabouts. Here, the two combine in a voice-and-drums version of the optimistic "Here I Am Now," while the more downcast "Down" boasts a fuller pop/rock arrangement.

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