MP3 Clips: | Band Intro:
See Steve's Hand-Written Lead Sheet
Don Grolnick's Fender Rhodes solo on: "Sometime Other Than Now"(Steve Khan)
Certain portions of the '70s now seem like an absolute blur to me. High on that list would be the number of lost nights trekking out to My Father's Place in Roslyn, Long Island for two long sets of music as part of Steve Marcus' Count's Rock Band. I recall driving out with "The Count" in his little Volkswagen on those icy January nights, and listening to him extoll the virtues of how a White Castle hamburger should be devoured as though it was a fine oyster. The description was complete with a two-finger approach to holding these comestible jewels. I also remember worrying that Will Lee and Steve Gadd might be late. In those years, Steve Gadd lived on W. 30th St. in midtown Manhattan, and in a converted fur office space. Yes, for minks, lynx, chinchillas and other beasts.[I hope that Bob Barker doesn't start to picket Steve's gigs and clinics!] I actually recall that his bedroom was in a fur locker itself complete with a HUGE bolted safe for a door. Incredible! From January 1st-3rd of 1975, we were there, at the club, to open for Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House. Our little band, on those nights, was to consist of Steve Marcus on Electric Soprano Sax; Don Grolnick on Fender Rhodes; Will Lee on Electric Bass; and Steve Gadd on Drums. So, when you add in Steve Khan on guitar, you have a band with a real bad case of the "Steves." Three of them!!!
Our book of music consisted of my rather derivative "Fusion" tunes, none of which have stood the test of time. I can barely listen to any of them now. And the titles, for most of them, were so stupid that it perhaps said that I was not quite ready to take myself seriously. Sad, but true! Though few people know it, this group actually recorded an LP together, which was titled, "SOMETIME OTHER THAN NOW"(Flying Dutchman). We recorded on January 21st-22nd, 1976 at Mediasound, and it was produced by the legendary Bob Thiele. Sadly, I don't believe that this recording ever really sounded too great, but somehow, during the mastering process, the sound got even worse. It is really horrid sounding, bordering on unlistenable. In truth, it needs to be re-mixed and re-mastered. Lucky for all of us, it has never been released in CD format!!!
I've never been much of a fan of board tapes, believing that 'live' gigs were meant to simply exist as they had been played. One plays, the notes go out into the air, they are received, or not, and then, it's over. What memories one holds can remain as pure illusion. To me this is better than having to hear 'the truth', again. Which, in the end, we all knew anyway. I'm not certain just how this happened, but I somehow ended-up with two full cassettes from those nights at My Father's Place. As I stated, the music is, for the most part, forgettable. But, one moment, during one of Don Grolnick's consistently musical Fender Rhodes solos, stood out, and I have never forgotten it. Recently, my dear friend Colin Schofield[Premier Drums], offered to convert this one track from cassette to CD-R. Before giving it to him, I converted the cassette to mini-disc, and took that opportunity to fade out the track before anything too horrid could be heard by anyone. However, that stated, what you are about to hear is some of the BEST Steve Gadd, from this period, that you could ever want to hear. It is a special treat for the launching of his now "official" website.
What remains is the rather amusing band introduction, complete with the stentorian tones of the now anonymous soundman. And then, the melody to "Sometime Other Than Now" is performed, which then, mercifully, goes right into Don Grolnick's fantastic solo. A rare moment of musical sensibility!!! When we were first learning this tune, I had no idea what was going to happen, but when the 'vamp' arrived at [B], suddenly Steve Gadd went right into his cowbell thing, and the music took on a life that I had never imagined. More than that, his cowbell work was to forever change what I knew to be possible from a drummer. And, more than this, it served to reaffirm my love for Latin music, which has only grown since. So, while Will Lee and I locked into the bass/guitar tumbao at [C], Don made a small harmonic wonderment out of nothing, soloing over a simple Lydian sounding Abmaj7#4 chord. Of course, you will hear lots of G minor pentatonic used, as well as the G blues scale, which helps to give a funky-bluesy feeling to the solo, no matter what else might be going on around it. If you listen carefully, you can hear that, during the solo, he touches upon areas in Bbm7 and Bm7 as well. However, at 1:48 as it reads on the CD display, Steve Gadd did something magical, for one bar, he simply stopped playing, creating his own 'break'.....and then, BANG, as if nothing had happened, he comes right back in, groovin' hard. It is something I have actually never heard him do on a recording, and I think that, for all his fans, young and old, if this is something you never imagined possible, check it out, and add it to your own "arsenal of the possible." Just don't lose the element of surprise!!! Then, of course, you can hear the magic of how expressively Steve shapes Don's solo, prodding and reacting.
I can't say what kind of reaction this little gem is going to receive from Steve Gadd's international legions of fans, but I would imagine that it's going to be special on some level. This is because it is so rare that you get a chance to hear something like this from 30 years ago. Enjoy this little moment with my best wishes, and the hope that it inspires you all to do great things. Steve Gadd continues to be an inspiration to not only those who don't dare play the drums, but moreso to those who also aspire to try to play great music. To play music which, in the end, is bigger than any of the players participating. To be a virtuoso in the midst of bad music is meaningless. Try to always put yourself in the context of the best music possible. Remember, the complexity of the music does not always make it good music!!! Before you listen, repeat this mantra after me: "We, who are, or were, about to fuse, salute you!!!"
Some of you might know that my second instrument, after the piano, was the drums. At 15 yrs. old, in high school in West Los Angeles, and wanting to play an instrument like everyone else, I chose the drums because it looked like it would be the easiest. And, saddest of all, I thought that I wouldn't have to "know" much about music and theory. How WRONG, very wrong I was. My father said to me, "Well, if you're going to play the drums, you will have to take some lessons." So, he sent me to a teacher, and I walked into a little room, but, there were no drums, just a practice pad. I looked at the teacher and I said, "Where are the drums?" And he replied, "We have some work to do at the practice pad, before you ever get to the full kit!" I must have mumbled something like: "This is bullshtein!!!!" So, I forced myself to endure a couple of lessons, and found a way to eventually get out of them.
Years later, after not making a similar error with the guitar, I remember arriving for a recording, and saw my new friend, Steve Gadd sitting there waiting. The drums hadn't been delivered yet, but there was a single snare drum. And so, he sat before us, and made more music than I had ever heard before, just sitting at a snare drum, and nothing else. It was incredible, and all those present were also stunned by what they had just heard. Later, I tried to explain to Steve what he had taught me. In those moments, I had learned exactly what that practice pad should have been all about for me, for anyone. Everything comes from the snare drum, from touch, finesse and control over subtleties. It is these very essential elements that contribute to making Steve Gadd's artistry so complete. For this, and countless other things, I salute you Steve, for now, and for always, you are one of the greats, and a tremendous inspiration to me to learn something new, and to get a little better each day.
TRIBUTE: Who can ever comprehend the twists and turns of fate in life? No sooner had I written this special page for Steve Gadd, concerning our time playing together with Steve Marcus than the phone should ring, and another dear friend is telling me that Steve Marcus had just passed away, died in his sleep, but a few days ago. Though I hadn't seen nor spoken with "The Count" in years, he was always close to my heart, and a very, very special part of my musical memories, of my growth, both musically and personally. Apart from being a great, great player, he was truly an unforgettable human being, a true 'character', and a dear, sweet soul who will be deeply missed by all those who knew him. Not to mention those of us who were lucky enough to have shared the stage with him. I will always think of him with a warm smile. He had the best smile and a great laugh. From this humble page, we all send our love and strength to his beloved wife, Eleanor and their daughter Holly.
["Sometime Other Than Now" Session Photos - January, 1976
Photo #1: Don Grolnick & Steve Gadd
Photo #2: Don Grolnick, Steve Khan & Steve Gadd
Photo #3: Steve Marcus & Steve Gadd
Photos by: Chuck Stewart]