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Steve Gadd returns to Rochester


Steve Gadd Band, Way Back Home: Live from Rochester, N.Y. (BFM Jazz, disc plus two DVDs)

Ever since jazz and rock decided to keep intimate company and go electric together (in other words, early Ramsey Lewis trio stuff doesn’t really count), Rochester-bred drummer Steve Gadd has been as busy as the proverbial one-armed paper hanger.

At 71, the veteran studio jazz drummer has played with just about everyone. What he did though on this disc (plus concert DVD and DVD of friend interviews) is to come back home to Rochester with a quintet and show some love to his hometown at last year’s Rochester Jazz Festival. (He grew up in the suburb of Irondequoit and, among other sessions with Rochester’s jazz aristocracy, appeared on Chuck Mangione’s famous “Friends and Love.”)

The stars of his quintet here are guitarist Michael Landau and organist Larry Goldings (who has been, as a studio musician, every bit as ubiquitous as Gadd). Trumpet player Walt Fowler contributes a crucial color to the group, to be sure, but right from the beginning, Goldings and Landau get your attention and keep it. Other than originals, they play tunes by Keith Jarrett, Jan Hammer and Buddy Miles as well as the grand old standard “Bye, Bye Blackbird.” Goldings and Landau are a pleasure throughout and Gadd can – and does – conjugate the whole language of fusion drumming with classic elegance. The performance was from last June at the Eastman School of Music.

3 stars (out of four)

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