My most recent encounter with Steve Gadd before this was on BFM JAZZ 302 062 418 2, an album called Gattitude (ouch), recorded in 2013. A year later Gadd, now 70 years old, recorded another album to mark his auspicious birthday and here it is. His band is intact and the same personnel therefore reprise their outstanding performances on this album, one that features immaculate time from the drum stool, as one would expect. His crisp, purposeful and dynamic patterns grace this set with comparable elasticity and drive so audible in Gattitude
There are eleven tracks. The opener is a soulful opus with its hints of Steely Dan, the second a more straight-ahead composition from Eddie Harris called Freedom Jazz Dance, where trumpeter Walt Fowler impresses and the band evinces a sense of flair, colour, variety and rhythmic patterning. Much is made of the March tempo and an air of quiet melancholia in Written in Stone and with the addition of an accordion it gives this piece an altogether rather filmic element. The Long Way Home is guitarist Michael Landau’s own composition and his articulate stylish soloing as well as Larry Goldings’ hyper-aware backing figure ensure that both soloistic and ensemble virtues are very much to the fore in this band.
If Sly Boots seems rather repetitive and over-riffed that’s certainly compensated for by the elegance of the guitar and brass solos in the tribute to George Duke, with a neat keyboard backing too, The band get to the heart of Jimmy Johnson’s lyrical Desu – which receives a warmly convincing reading – and take the chance to get on down with that funky jam classic, Oh, Yeah? There’s a Milesian vibe about this sizzler. The disc ends with a slow blues, again composed by Landau, that shows how versed the band is in the essentials.
This thoroughly honed band continues to produce fine discs.