Steve Gadd Fills, Transcriptions and Soloing Ideas

Steve Gadd in the Recording Studio circa early 1980s

From his legendary "Mozambique" groove to his rudimental solo licks, learning Steve Gadd vocabulary can be revelatory

When I first discovered Steve Gadd, it was revelatory for me. I had been playing rock and therefore I’d been learning only from rock drummers for years. And all of sudden, I hear Gadd.

One of the first things I heard was his drum solo on “Aja” by Steely Dan. Then I checked out his playing with Paul Simon and Chick Corea. By the way, Steve’s solo from “Cappuccino,” a Corea composition from the album Friends is included on PDF below. And it is a spectacular solo. 

You’l also get a taste of Gadd’s playing from the Manhattan Jazz Quintet’s 1985 release, Autumn Leaves. On the track “Jordu,” Gadd takes some great fours and you’ll find some of that transcribed below too.

In hearing Gadd, an entire world of new possibilities opened up. 

The influence of jazz and the drum rudiments and the use of combinations of hands and feet were all blissfully revealed merely from studying this one drummer. 

And now, I present much of the transcription work I’ve done on Gadd for you to enjoy and use. You’ll find that “Mozambique” groove I mentioned–which, by the way, I’ve frequently used in drum breaks and solos to great effect–as well as many (if not most of) his classic soloing licks here.  Enjoy.

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