Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Solo Transcription - Steve Gadd, "Aja"

Here's a classic Steve Gadd solo from the 1978 Steely Dan album, Aja.  The title track is the only tune Gadd plays on the whole record, though he makes it count.  As a matter of fact, no drummer, besides Bernard Purdie plays more than one track on the album, which also features Ed Greene, Paul Humphrey, Jim Keltner and Rick Marotta.  Really, the whole album is a who's of who of 1970s jazz and session players like Timothy Schmit from the Eagles, Don Grolnick, Joe Sample, Victor Feldman, Larry Carlton, Steve Kahn, and Lee Ritenour among many others.  Aja, the tune, even features Wayne Shorter on sax.

There are a few videos floating around YouTube of Gadd talking about his approach to this tune and breaking down some of the licks.  Not that there's a whole lot to break down.  He  isn't really re-inventing the wheel here (a lot of hand-hand-foot in varying rhythms) but the orchestration is absolutely beautiful and it's executed with a pocket like only Gadd can.  And it's said that he sight read the chart, and nailed it by the second take.

At the end we even get to hear the classic "Gadd samba", which I personally never really consider a "samba", but that doesn't mean it's any less killing.

Also, be sure to check out "The Making of Aja", which can be found on YouTube.  It's a wicked documentary with Donald and Walter talking about the making of the album and interviewing some of the musicians.  They even break out the masters and play some scrapped parts in context, and mute/solo certain tracks.  Very cool stuff.



  1. too bad that great doc the making of Aja mentions nothing about Gadd or the song. bummer

  2. Or that the complete original Masters cannot be found. Oh but they want to pay the guy who finds it $100