Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

Steve Gadd BandBFM Jazz 302 062 418 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****


Drummer Steve Gadd has had a busy recording year, appearing on discs by Eric Clapton, Bob James and David Sanborn, and the Gaddabouts, his collaboration with Edie Brickell. Gadditude adds to the list a recording made under his own name. The Steve Gadd Band’s debut benefits from the comfort these musicians have from playing together as James Taylor’s touring band -- even the most difficult passages flow easily.

The players are trumpeter Walt Fowler, guitarist Michael Landau, keyboardist Larry Goldings, and bassist Jimmy Johnson -- a list of the musicians each has played with would take up a lot of space and span styles from pop to country to jazz. With a bench that deep, Gadditude bends genres convincingly, including soul, jazz, funk, and 1970s-style fusion, but it also pulls in many other styles. The group’s reimagining of Keith Jarrett’s “Country,” for instance, has a strong country-music undercurrent, especially in Landau’s volume swells, which evoke the sound of a pedal steel guitar. The track remains true to Jarrett’s original conception while introducing something new into it.

Landau’s “Africa” has a touch of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way, with Goldings’s Hammond organ weaving around and under the melody. Landau and Goldings both turn in fine, bluesy solos that expand on the themes stated in the opening, and Fowler follows them with a muted-trumpet solo reminiscent of late Miles. A subtle time shift moves the song into a swing tempo before it returns to its opening statement.

Goldings wrote “Ask Me,” an affecting ballad with a slight flavor of the Middle East that lets him stretch out on Fender Rhodes. The tune builds in emotion and power, with Fowler and Landau contributing carefully developed, well-modulated solos. Gadd moves the song along gracefully, adding soft cymbal strokes to help build drama. Landau’s “Who Knows Blues” is a more straightforward composition, a New Orleans-style jazz tune that highlights the strong blues current that runs through all of Gadditude.

Listeners who’ve followed Gadd throughout his career won’t be surprised at his versatility, but his use of space and time here adds color in ways more reminiscent of Paul Motian’s work than of his session playing in rock settings. He adds color and movement that help each track develop logically, solidly holding down the time while intelligently commenting along the way. The group’s stirring version of Radiohead’s “Scatterbrain” would be unthinkable without Gadd’s intelligence and his commands of rock and jazz.

Every player in this band is a virtuoso, but their years of individual experience in a variety of settings, and the knowledge they obviously have of each other as musicians, let them shine without showing off or flashing. I was unfamiliar with Landau before I heard this disc, but his playing is full of great ideas and warm guitar tones. Fowler brings something valuable and unique to each tune, and Johnson is important in creating a strong foundation throughout the album. Goldings once again challenges both himself and the players who accompany him.

Gadditude is marked by the amount of space these musicians give each other as they carefully listen and respond. John Paterno recorded and mixed the disc, and Bernie Grundman’s mastering ensures that the expansive sound of music well played and carefully developed sounds very good.

. . . Joseph Taylor