Versatile Drummer Rob Silverman Convenes Top Jazz & Rock Drummers for ‘Drumology’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Master drummer Rob Silverman has spent his career exploring the rhythmic traditions of cultures around the globe, from African drumming traditions to Japanese Taiko music; from Middle Eastern rhythms to Native American drumming; and from Samba to the rock-jazz fusion that lies at the core of his music. These influences come to the fore in his powerful yet finessed drumming for the Eric Marienthal Band, the classical-jazz hybrid Bach to the Future, and recordings with Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker, Dweezil Zappa, Jimmy Haslip and many others. On Drumology, he shares and engages in dialogues with some of his favorite top drummers.

Thus, the album includes giants Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr, David Lee Roth, Spinal Tap), Steve Smith (Journey, Vital Information), Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto), Dave Weckl (Chick Corea, Mike Stern), John Blackwell (Prince, Cameo, Justin Timberlake) and Casey Adams, a lifelong friend and collaborator who has become one of the most in-demand drum teachers in St. Louis. While that’s the focus, Silverman and his compatriots are bolstered by a stellar band that includes saxophonist Eric Marienthal (Chick Corea, The Rippingtons), bassist John Patitucci (Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea), violinist Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Flock) and guitarist Buzz Feiten (Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin), among others.
 
Family and music have long been intimately intertwined for Silverman. Along with his brother, pianist/keyboardist Michael Silverman, he has spent the last decade touring North America with the eclectic project Bach to the Future, which melds classical favorites by the likes of Bach and Beethoven with contemporary jazz, rock and world music influences. The brothers also co-founded the Autumn Hill Records label and several music festivals, including the Chesterfield Wine and Jazz Festival, the U City Jazz Festival and the St. Louis Winter Jazz Festival, all in their native Missouri.
 
Drumology was conceived in partnership with keyboardist/producer – and fellow St. Louisan – Jay Oliver (Eagles, Sheryl Crow). In 1990, Oliver co-wrote and produced Dave Weckl’s album Master Plan, whose title track featured a stunning double-drum duet between Weckl and the legendary Steve Gadd. The track had long been a favorite of Silverman’s; when Oliver heard Rob play for the first time, he quickly suggested a similar encounter between Weckl and Silverman. The result was “Waverunners,” a piece that Michael Silverman wrote expressly for the pairing and which served as a model for the project as a whole: tailor the music to each individual’s trademark style, allowing them to express themselves freely in conversation with Silverman.

At Silverman’s suggestion, Oliver extended an invitation to fusion pioneer and longtime Journey drummer Steve Smith, resulting in “Konnakol,” which takes its name from the South Indian vocalization style that Smith has mastered and that shaped the piece.  Michael also penned “Ten Times Ten,” a complex piece in 10/8 that begins with Rob and Bissonette alone together, sparring around the intricate time signature. The piece was inspired by a tune of Jerry Goodman’s that the brothers had played with the violinist on tour. Goodman returns the favor by guesting on the track, along with Marienthal and Bach to the Future bassist Matt Bollinger.
 
“Brave New World” features iconic drummer Simon Phillips, best known for his tenures with The Who and Toto but whose solo project Protocol has been a major influence for the Silvermans. Michael’s piece was written after the fashion of Protocol’s 1988 debut (recorded by Phillips alone) and features the late Banshee and Morphelonious bassist Bill Westfall along with Marienthal. Another collaborator lost since the recording is drummer John Blackwell, for whom Michael conceived “Drum Duet in C Minor” to showcase the precision groove that has fueled hits by Prince and Justin Timberlake. Blackwell so appreciated the piece that he asked to perform it on his upcoming drum clinic tour, which Michael calls “a true honor.” Unfortunately, the recording of the track would be Blackwell’s last, as it was discovered soon after that he was suffering from a brain tumor; he stopped performing and died about a year later.
 
The album’s first track is perhaps its most intimate, with Silverman sharing drum duties with one of his oldest friends. Casey Adams, now an in-demand teacher in St. Louis, a childhood pal alongside whom Rob discovered his passion for the drums. Together, the two share the kind of warm, easy camaraderie that only lifelong friends can – especially on such a blistering track, locking into “Inferno.” Rob Silverman is the sole drummer on the concluding “Spark” backed by Oliver, his brother, Marienthal, and Patitucci, going out in blaze as if we’d expect anything less.
 
Those familiar with Rob Silverman’s drumming already know what an adventurous player he can be. Maybe it was the other names that drew you in. No matter, these explosive dialogues give us all an exhilarating ride.

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