Making of Aja

jakeo

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I think this has been posted before - check it out if you haven't seen it. Weird that they don't mention Gadd at all in the video. I did notice this comment from Scott Moyer - he appears to be legit.


For those of you who are curious about Steve Gadd's sounds on Aja....I can help. His drum set was a red sparkle Ludwig drum set rented from Studio Instrumental Rentals. The 3 toms had clear heads with black dots on them.He had 2 mounted toms...a 12" & 14" plus a 16" floor tom. He used a basic $15.00 Ludwig bass drum pedal. The snare was a Ludwig chrome 5 1/2 " X 14" coated Ambassador head. His cymbals were Zildlians...a 21" Rock Ride and 14" Hi Hats with 2 crash cymbals (unsure of their size but no larger than an 18" and no less than a 16")... which were both cracked for a fast decay which Steve preferred. He taped the entire score of the song, Aja, from the left hand crash cymbal stand all the way across to the right hand crash cymbal stand so that he could view and read the entire score without turning pages. The drums were not tuned at all but simply played "as is." I delivered the drums for this session and had already tuned the drums before I left SIR that day. Gadd brought his own cymbals and especially loved his 21" Rock Ride. As I was leaving the studio, Beatles Producer, George Martin walked in.

 

Johnny D

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I dunno know about the cymbals... I can't imagine Steve ever using a 21" A Rock Ride, let alone on that song... To me, it sounds like his beloved 20" Istanbul K that he used on everything and later became an 18" when it cracked, as were the rest of his cymbals Istanbul Ks. This could be "Breaking News" for some DFO members, but when they made Aja in 1977, Steve was not yet a Zildjian artist. I want to say that happened around 1980. He was playing mostly Istanbul Ks and some A's he picked up. Like a lot of working studio drummers during that time, he didn't seek endorsements - he played what he liked and whatever got him the sound he wanted. In the 70s, top session guys like Steve, Hal Blaine, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Rick Marotta and Roger Hawkins, etc didn't endorse cymbal companies.

And Steve has told me in those days he carried his own trap case to each session and inside were his cymbals, his Gretsch Floating Action pedal (which may've been converted to a chain drive) and his Ludwig 400. He would indeed use drums provided for the session. I don't ever recall him saying he used a Speed King, but maybe he did. But the 21" A Rock Ride is very unlikely to me.
 

jtpaistegeist

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I dunno know about the cymbals... I can't imagine Steve ever using a 21" A Rock Ride, let alone on that song... To me, it sounds like his beloved 20" Istanbul K that he used on everything and later became an 18" when it cracked, as were the rest of his cymbals Istanbul Ks. This could be "Breaking News" for some DFO members, but when they made Aja in 1977, Steve was not yet a Zildjian artist. I want to say that happened around 1980. He was playing mostly Istanbul Ks and some A's he picked up. Like a lot of working studio drummers during that time, he didn't seek endorsements - he played what he liked and whatever got him the sound he wanted. In the 70s, top session guys like Steve, Hal Blaine, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Rick Marotta and Roger Hawkins, etc didn't endorse cymbal companies.

And Steve has told me in those days he carried his own trap case to each session and inside were his cymbals, his Gretsch Floating Action pedal (which may've been converted to a chain drive) and his Ludwig 400. He would indeed use drums provided for the session. I don't ever recall him saying he used a Speed King, but maybe he did. But the 21" A Rock Ride is very unlikely to me.

Thanks for the info John. Do you know any details about that K ride? Such as the ballpark weight or any characteristics of the sound that may not be available online?
 

yetanotherdrummer

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I wonder if the Zildjian 21" rock ride being referenced is one from the early 70's?

I have one that I bought new in 1976 and I have used it for all varieties of gigs and music. That cymbal has some of the best stick response of any ride cymbal that I have ever played, and the bell on it is unreal.

The only cymbal I have that comes close is my 21" Zildjian K Sweet Ride that I purchased a few years ago.
 

jaymandude

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I think this has been posted before - check it out if you haven't seen it. Weird that they don't mention Gadd at all in the video. I did notice this comment from Scott Moyer - he appears to be legit.


For those of you who are curious about Steve Gadd's sounds on Aja....I can help. His drum set was a red sparkle Ludwig drum set rented from Studio Instrumental Rentals. The 3 toms had clear heads with black dots on them.He had 2 mounted toms...a 12" & 14" plus a 16" floor tom. He used a basic $15.00 Ludwig bass drum pedal. The snare was a Ludwig chrome 5 1/2 " X 14" coated Ambassador head. His cymbals were Zildlians...a 21" Rock Ride and 14" Hi Hats with 2 crash cymbals (unsure of their size but no larger than an 18" and no less than a 16")... which were both cracked for a fast decay which Steve preferred. He taped the entire score of the song, Aja, from the left hand crash cymbal stand all the way across to the right hand crash cymbal stand so that he could view and read the entire score without turning pages. The drums were not tuned at all but simply played "as is." I delivered the drums for this session and had already tuned the drums before I left SIR that day. Gadd brought his own cymbals and especially loved his 21" Rock Ride. As I was leaving the studio, Beatles Producer, George Martin walked in.

Sheeeet. You gonna listen to the samba on the ride out and tell me that was a 21 Rock Ride ? In my best Bronx accent. GTFOH.
 

Mongrel

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I got about half way through and was called for work. I do intend on finishing it...

But, did they (Becker or Fagen) even acknowledge by name any of the greats that they were using? I know they had their names on screen, but I din't recall them saying something like "yea, well Bernard is just phenomenol with his shuffle so we loved working with him on...."?

I was starting to get the impression that they are of the mind that *they* made all those guys great by allowing them to play on their compositions....

Kind of a Zappa vibe....lol.

I could be, hopefully am, totally wrong....lol.
 

Johnny D

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Thanks for the info John. Do you know any details about that K ride? Such as the ballpark weight or any characteristics of the sound that may not be available online?
Steve sent me a bunch of his old cymbals, including the K ride, when him and Carol were moving from Rochester to Phoenix. I kept them in my office for safekeeping. I'm sure Paul F weighed it, but I don't recall the gram weight, but suffice it to say it was on the lighter side. And even with a big chunk taken out of it, it still had that tone you associate with Steve's cymbal sound. And I'll say it again... he didn't get that sound from 21" A Rock Ride :)

These pics were taken in my office in July 2010 during a visit. I had his cymbals in my office and he wanted to check them out. After I left Zildjian in 2013, Steve had his old cymbals returned to him in Phoenix. I think they have one or two at Zildjian as part of their museum, but ironically, they're Istanbul Ks. But the cymbal in the photo is the Ride that's on pretty much everything he recorded until the early 90s.

2010-07-27 13.52.45.jpg

2010-07-27 14.06.27.jpg


Having a little fun. This pic was all over the internet during that time, so we blew it and framed it for him and he was happy to pose with it! Steve is one of the funniest guys I know!

2010-07-27 13.53.27.jpg
 

Johnny D

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Just wondering, did Zildjian even have the A line of cymbals back in the early 70's?
I don’t know if that was a serious question, but assuming it was, Zildjian only had the A. line in the early 70s. At that time, K Zildjian in Istanbul was Zildjian’s competitor.

When Zildjian began making cymbals in the US in 1929, the only line of cymbals they made were the Avedis aka “A” Zildjian line. So yes, the A line existed in the early 70s.
 

tommykat1

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Great thread!!

I don't remember how I found this a few years ago, but here are the rhythm tracks only for Aja. No horns, vocals, hand percussion, solo instruments or embellishments. What's so sweet is the song works so well as a pleasurable piece with only the tasty basics.

As an aside, maybe one of you can confirm this: I read somewhere that the incredible Mr. Gadd got this on the first take, which stunned Fagan and Becker.

 

yetanotherdrummer

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I don’t know if that was a serious question, but assuming it was, Zildjian only had the A. line in the early 70s. At that time, K Zildjian in Istanbul was Zildjian’s competitor.

When Zildjian began making cymbals in the US in 1929, the only line of cymbals they made were the Avedis aka “A” Zildjian line. So yes, the A line existed in the early 70s.
Thanks. I'm not a "cymbal guy" so I'm not up on all of the naming conventions. I know that when I purchased my Zildjians back in 1976 they didn't have the big "A" printed on them like they do on the current cymbals. The only stamp on mine was "Rock" on the inside of the bottom high hat cymbal.
 

Johnny D

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Thanks. I'm not a "cymbal guy" so I'm not up on all of the naming conventions. I know that when I purchased my Zildjians back in 1976 they didn't have the big "A" printed on them like they do on the current cymbals. The only stamp on mine was "Rock" on the inside of the bottom high hat cymbal.
Gotcha. I agree it’s confusing and I used to work for them! Lol! What you and I remember as just plain “Zildjian” cymbals are referred to as A’s now to differentiate them from the other Zildjian lines. Basically any American made Zildjian from the 70s is an A Zildjian. Hope that clarifies it.

Incidentally “Rock” is the weight designation though it’s also considered to be its own line.
 

Nacci

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Great thread!!

I don't remember how I found this a few years ago, but here are the rhythm tracks only for Aja. No horns, vocals, hand percussion, solo instruments or embellishments. What's so sweet is the song works so well as a pleasurable piece with only the tasty basics.

As an aside, maybe one of you can confirm this: I read somewhere that the incredible Mr. Gadd got this on the first take, which stunned Fagan and Becker.

That was a lot of fun to listen to. Such sophisticated, grown up music. I love the way Gadd puts an end to the first drum solo with that stick click. The man is a real genius on the drums.
 

jaymandude

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I don’t know if that was a serious question, but assuming it was, Zildjian only had the A. line in the early 70s. At that time, K Zildjian in Istanbul was Zildjian’s competitor.

When Zildjian began making cymbals in the US in 1929, the only line of cymbals they made were the Avedis aka “A” Zildjian line. So yes, the A line existed in the early 70s.
John. In the current era where guys and girls switch cymbals and snares for every song, did Steve ever talk about why he uses practically the same set up for everything ? The only time I noticed something different was a Ludwig 22-13-16 in a photo from the Edie Brickell Gaddabouts session.

Thanks of course for all that you contribute here
 

JDA

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first drum solo with that stick click.
I speculated that was a nod to Tony on 1963 studio 7 Steps to Heaven..
probably just a coincidence

(right at 0:15) (tho, here sounds like a perfect, intentional?) , click on a drum
 
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bellbrass

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This thread has been really cool...but I find myself making the same amateur mistake of paying more attention to Gadd's equipment than Gadd's playing.

Steve Gadd could make a $200 set of drums sound so good that everyone would want those drums.

Still, it's cool to know he was (presumably) playing a set of mid-70s 3-ply Ludwigs on that song. If I had that same set in front of me, somehow I don't think I could make them sound as good....

Steve Gadd is one of the best drummers to ever hold a pair of sticks. His ability to chop and groove in the same song is unmatched. I could devote the rest of my time on this planet to getting that groove, and still may never catch up to him. He's that far ahead of me. What an inspiration he was and still is....it helps that he is a humble, down-to-earth guy. It's easy to look up to such an accomplished musician.
 

multijd

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Steve sent me a bunch of his old cymbals, including the K ride, when him and Carol were moving from Rochester to Phoenix. I kept them in my office for safekeeping. I'm sure Paul F weighed it, but I don't recall the gram weight, but suffice it to say it was on the lighter side. And even with a big chunk taken out of it, it still had that tone you associate with Steve's cymbal sound. And I'll say it again... he didn't get that sound from 21" A Rock Ride :)

These pics were taken in my office in July 2010 during a visit. I had his cymbals in my office and he wanted to check them out. After I left Zildjian in 2013, Steve had his old cymbals returned to him in Phoenix. I think they have one or two at Zildjian as part of their museum, but ironically, they're Istanbul Ks. But the cymbal in the photo is the Ride that's on pretty much everything he recorded until the early 90s.

View attachment 402953
View attachment 402954

Having a little fun. This pic was all over the internet during that time, so we blew it and framed it for him and he was happy to pose with it! Steve is one of the funniest guys I know!

View attachment 402951
Johnny D,
Thanks for the info.
Did he get that ride from Art Blakey?
 

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