DVD Review – Steve Smith’s Drum Legacy

Steve Smith, shiny headed drummer extraordinaire has done it again! Standing on the Shoulder’s of Giant’s is Steve’s tribute to all the greats that came before him (and he does them justice.) Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy was originally Buddy’s Buddies, a tribute band to the work of Buddy Rich. As they went on, they started expanding to the work of other jazz drumming greats. Eventually the name was changed to Jazz Legacy because they had left the realm of a Buddy Rich tribute band and became something more.

This video contains the entire 2006 Modern Drummer Festival performance of Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy and after each song there is a long discussion about it between John Riley and Steve Smith. John Riley’s presence does help make the DVD much better and I’ll explain how. If you remember my review of Steve Smith’s Drum Set Technique & History of the U.S. Beat, my one criticism was that Steve Smith was very stiff when he was talking to the camera. Well, because John Riley is there, Steve has an actual person to talk to. The effect being, Steve is much more personable and easier to watch. But Riley is more then just someone for Steve to bounce conversation off of. He is a Jazz scholar in his own right and adds much insight and a different perspective to Steve when they discuss the performances and the artists to which the performances are tributes.

Some of the songs and artists featured include: Moment’s Notice (Buddy Rich), Soulful Drums (Joe Dukes), Night in Tunisia (Art Blakey), & Sister Cheryl (Tony Williams). The songs are all excellent but you can see them on the Modern Drummer Festival 2006 DVD. What you’re really paying for with this DVD is the discussion and demonstration. They really couldn’t have picked two better people to feature in a DVD about the great jazz drummers. Billy Ward accomplished something similar to this DVD with his DVD “Voices in my Head,” but this DVD is far more in depth and specific about the great jazz drummers, than “Voices” was. The great thing about this DVD is the amount of transcription they did. Whenever Steve demonstrates something (like the infamous Tony Williams lick) it appears fully transcribed at the bottom of the screen, and all the transcriptions appear in either the booklet that comes with the DVD or the ebook that’s on the second DVD. All the stuff on the DVD is advanced/intermediate material. If you still have the training wheels on then you might want to hold off on it till you’re a little better. Or maybe you could just enjoy the material that you can grasp. Either way, the point is that there is some heavy stuff in here so be forewarned.

The package also comes with a CD of Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy performing live 9 tracks including the 12 minute journey “Night in Tunisia.” I’ve already uploaded it to my computer and am currently listening to insubordination on itunes (insubordination is my favorite tune on the whole thing by the way.) Tons of bonus footage including a drum workshop Steve did in Australia, four extra live performances in NYC, the ebook, the physical book. Yeah, we got extras.

I don’t even have to do the breakdown because this thing gets full marks in every category.

5 mics. Ding!

This is one you buy. Don’t rent it, buy it. If you’re an aspiring jazz drummer, you just owe it to yourself to own this thing.

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