DVD Review – Steve Gadd: Master Series

Steve Gadd is probably the most well respected drummer alive today, so it makes sense that he’d be chosen to star in Hudson Music’s new Master Series DVDs. The new Master Series, um, series… is pretty much just a recording of a drummer doing a clinic, master class, showcase concert, meet n’ greet, panel, Q&A session and whatever other title they may give these types of events. Maybe it was born out of a desire to share these live sessions with the public who couldn’t be there in person. Maybe it was because they couldn’t schedule these artists to come in and shoot a DVD so they just recored a clinic the artist was going to do anyway. Maybe these Master Series DVD’s cost less to produce… we may never know. Regardless of the reason, these things have been a long time coming.

The great thing about this DVD is that you have the best seat in the house, where the action is! If Steve is doing something interesting with his feet, you’re right there with the bass drum cam. When he does brush work, you’re right over the snare drum, catching ever sweep. Just a really pro job from the Hudson Music crew (though by now we’ve come to expect that.) So let’s talk about Steve’s performance.

Steve starts out with a brush solo and hums the melody to “Bye-Bye Blackbird” along. I’d seen clips of him doing this on drummerworld.com but I didn’t know that he was humming the melody to an actual song. I thought he was just improvising as he went along. I thought that it sounded really bad when I heard it on drummerworld.com but on the Master Series DVD it sounds much better. After the brush solo he moves on to perform my favorite drum solo, Crazy Army. Man… that solo is awesome. After that he has the crowd clap a 3-2 clave (I think it’s a 3-2 clave) and he solo’s over it. Nice.

From there he takes questions and does demonstrations for the rest of the DVD. Old Skool listeners of the drummer talk podcast will know that Dave and Crew were disappointed with his performance at PASIC 2005 (this DVD was shot in ’06) mainly because of the way he handled his Q&A session. The complaint being that he took about 45 minutes to answer about 3 questions. I’m happy to say that he gets through about 13 or 16 questions in this DVD. It’s a mix of some original questions and the questions that he answers every clinic. For example he is asked about his brush playing and his double pedal technique. Both of which are things that he probably isn’t asked nearly as often as: Play Fifty-Ways, play Late In the Evening, play your mozambique, talk about Aja, why are you so awesome, will you marry me, etc etc… If this were a review of the clinic itself I would say that there is probably too many of the old questions. This is a DVD however and it’s a good thing that these questions were answered in this DVD because (hopefully) people will be less include to ask the same old questions whenever Steve does a live clinic. Though I’m pretty sure most people ask Steve the old questions just for the novelty of seeing him do it live. At least they will have a legitimate excuse to screen questions a little more thoroughly.

One thing that really impresses me about Steve is his willingness to answer the same old things over and over again. He sounds like it’s the first time he’s ever been asked that question and he answers with as much vigor. It would drive me insane to do that over and over and over again.

Now for the breakdown.

For content I’d say that it can range from 1 to 3 stars depending on if you’ve been to one of Steve’s clinics. I have not so for me it’s a three, for Dave and crew it would probably be a one. so I’ll give it a two.

For presentation, full star. It’s really well shot and Steve is a decent host when he’s up on stage.

For extras, half star. There is an interview and some footage that explores his background and accomplishments. The footage that explores his history is the same stuff that they used on the ADAA salute to Steve Gadd DVD (also by Hudson Music) so the interview is the only really new thing.

In total that’s 3.5 stars/mics. It’s a decent DVD but it looses much of it’s value because much of what Steve does and how he does it is already very well documented.

If you don’t ever intend to see Steve live then rent this from Netflix. Every drummer owes it to themselves to see a Steve Gadd clinic at least once. Only difference now is that you don’t need to leave home.

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