Steve Gadd Drum Solo on “Samba Song”

A transcription of Steve Gadd’s drum solo on Samba Song from the 1978 Chick Corea record Friends:

This is a prime example of how note density and orchestration can be used to provide shape in a drum solo. It can be roughly divided into four- and eight-bar sections, the first of which contains very sparse rhythms orchestrated between the snare and cowbell. New pieces of the kit are introduced and explored one by one, starting with the hi-hat, followed by the bass drum, toms, and eventually cymbals.
Each section layers on more rhythmic density and complexity. Mm. 1-17 move from separated notes and figures to long streams on 16th note paradiddle patterns. Mm. 20-24 features a highly syncopated pattern of off-beat 16th note accents. 32nd notes are introduced at m.29 in the form of a hemiola pattern of alternating 16ths and 32nds. This is followed by an unrelenting stream of sextuplets at m.33 (mathematically slower than the 32nd notes, but they are played continuously rather than broken up). Finally, at m.37, there is a rhythmic simplification back to 16th notes to close out the solo.

Note: I notated mm.29-32 with flams instead of 32nd notes to emphasize the swiss army triplet nature of the figure. It sounds like straight 32nd notes when played by Gadd.

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