Steely Dan (with Steve Gadd) – “Aja”

Steve Gadd (Photo: Courtesy the artist)

Drummer Steve Gadd, renowned for his work as a session musician for some of the biggest names in jazz and pop, was born on this day (April 9) in Irondequoit, New York, in 1945. Throughout his illustrious five-decade career, Gadd has lent his characteristically solid yet swinging drumming to albums by Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton, James Taylor and David Sanborn. And while all of his work is worth spending some time with, his drum solo at the end of Steely Dan’s “Aja,” from their 1977 album of the same name, has become the stuff of legend. Full of explosive tom-tom runs and crisp cymbal grooves, the solo brings the song to a rousing close, the perfect conclusion to one of the greatest jazz-pop crossover hits of all time. (In case you’re wondering, that soprano sax solo is performed by yet another jazz legend: Wayne Shorter.)

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