Dave Weckl & Oz Ezzeldin: ‘Dis Kinda Place
For more than 35 years, Dave Weckl has developed and maintained a reputation among fans, peers, and the international music community, as one of the great living drummers. His contributions to iconic music, music education, and the gear that drummers use, are many. Modern Drummer magazine has inducted Weckl into their Hall of Fame (2000) and named him “one of the 25 best drummers of all time.”
These honors, in addition to many more bestowed by the music community, are the product of Weckl’s commitment to excellence. His dynamic and diverse drumming, which has inspired musicians worldwide, is built on a foundation of knowledge and passion.
Weckl was born in St. Louis Missouri, January 8th, 1960. Though his parents were not professional musicians, his mother loved music and his father played the piano as a hobby. Weckl started drums at the age of 8, playing along to records in a spare room. He eventually moved his kit into the living room where he sometimes accompanied his father who played piano.
Early on, Weckl practiced to rock records by the Monkees, Credence Clearwater Revival, and more. Rock drumming came easily and his interest quickly turned to Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Philly Joe Jones, and Steve Gadd, to name a few. In his early teens, Weckl’s passion for jazz and big band drumming reallly blossomed.
During his high school years, Weckl received many awards from the NAJE (National Association of Jazz Educators) for outstanding performances in his high school’s competition-winning jazz band. He also became involved with numerous local groups starting at the age of 16 while studying with St. Louis-area teachers Bob Matheny and Joe Buerger.
1979 saw a move to the East coast and the University of Bridgeport. While playing the New York club scene with a band called Nite Sprite, Weckl started receiving accolades from established studio musicians such as Steve Kahn, Michael Brecker, and Peter Erskine. It was Erskine who recommended Weckl for his first ‘big gig’ with a group called French Toast, forerunner to the Michel Camilo band. That band featured iconic electric bass player Anthony Jackson.
From this group, Jackson recommended Weckl for the prestigious 1983 Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour. This got Weckl noticed by a much larger industry audience and lead to many session opportunities, including radio and TV jingles, sound track sessions, and top recording dates with George Benson, Peabo Bryson, Diana Ross, Robert Plant, and many more.
In 1985, Michael Brecker recommended Weckl to Chick Corea for his new Elektric Band. That was the beginning of a seven-year relationship with both the Elektric and Akoustic bands where nine recordings and three videos were produced. The Akoustic Band release earned Weckl a Grammy.
The Elektric Band showcased Weckl’s cutting-edge drumming and innovative use of electronic and acoustic drums, bringing him worldwide recognition. Though the Elektric Band went on a 10-year hiatus in the early ’90s, the band still tours from time-to-time. They released a 17-part conceptual album entitled To The Stars in mid-2004, and have reunited for tours in 2011 and 2016/17.
Weckl’s solo career began in 1990 with the release of Master Plan. Co-written/produced with longtime St. Louis friend/colleague Jay Oliver, the album was a watershed moment in Weckl’s career. Some would say it ushered in a new generation of contemporary drumming.
Master Plan featured a dynamic and diverse collection of tracks featuring top jazz artists of the time. The album created a palette for Weckl’s wide-ranging abilities in jazz, fusion, and Latin-inspired music, solidifying him as an emerging leader in the drumming world.
The album’s title track, written and performed by Chick Corea, featured Weckl and Steve Gadd on drums. Weckl had been seen as a protege to Gadd and their styles meshed perfectly on the track. But in many ways, the tune marked a “passing of the torch” in terms of next-generation artistry on the drums.
Weckl has recorded and produced nine other solo/leader recordings to date. In addition to Master Plan, Heads Up and Hard-Wired earned him great notoriety in the early ’90s.
In 1998, Weckl realized his long-time goal of forming a world-touring band. The Dave Weckl Band released five studio records, including: Rhythm Of The Soul, Synergy, Transition, Perpetual Motion, and Multiplicity. The band also released a hot live album, LIVE (And Very Plugged In) plus a compilation of DWB and instructional videos entitled The Zone.
Instructional videos have always played a big role in Weckl’s career. His original product, entitled Contemporary Drummer + 1, was one of the first play-along products ever published for drums. His Back To Basics and The Next Step releases were best-sellers in the ’90s and also continue to sell today.
Weckl updated his technical approach in the ’90s after studying with Freddie Gruber. He then released a three-part series of videos called A Natural Evolution, which included an appearance by Gruber. These products redefined earlier concepts to help drummers understand how to play in a relaxed, efficient, and musical way. They also helped solidified Weckl’s stature as an articulate and respected teacher. His clinics and master classes continue to attract capacity crowds worldwide.
After many years of sideman work with guitar legend Mike Stern, Chris Minh Doky’s Nomads, Oz Noy, and more, Weckl spent 2013 reuniting with Jay Oliver. They launched a crowd funding campaign that attracted more than 2,000 pre-orders of a project that would eventually be called Convergence.
The album featured 10 tunes, including piano and drum solo pieces and a remake of Stevie Wonder’s legendary tune “Higher Ground.” The video of “Higher Ground” has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and Facebook. Drummer Chris Coleman, bassist Jimmie Johnson, guitarist Dean Brown, singer Chrissi Poland, and several amazing horn players and vocalists took part.
The project also saw collaborations with Canadian singer Emilie-Claire Barlow and Riverdance creator Bill Whelan. Oliver recorded several native Irish instruments at Whelan’s personal studio in Ireland.
Convergence was released with three companion products: a play-along package for drums, a play-along package for all other instruments on the album, and a full-length documentary entitled Flies On The Studio Wall.
In 2015, Weckl formed an acoustic jazz group with longtime friend/collaborator Tom Kennedy (bass), Gary Meek (sax), and Makoto Ozone (piano/B3). The group was called The Dave Weckl Acoustic Band. To date, the band has released a CD entitled Of The Same Mind and a live DVD filmed at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.
More recently, Weckl has returned to touring with the Elektric Band, Mike Stern, and Oz Noy, while completing sessions in his Los Angeles-area home studio. He has also formed an online school with comprehensive lessons, new play along products, and live footage from current tours.
He says “it is my goal to inspire as many young (and not-so-young) people as possible to want to play music, whether it be on drums or another instrument. With all the negatives in the world today, I feel this is my way of contributing a positive action toward spiritual happiness, which music can be a big part of, if you let it. So parents, if your child has a talent for music, please allow them the opportunity to develop that
Outside of music, Weckl has a passion for automobiles and racing. He and his Corvette ZO6 regularly post competitive times at race tracks around Southern California. Check out his YouTube racing channel!
Beyond music and four-wheel indulgences, Dave’s biggest passions and sources of inspiration come from his daughter, Claire, and his wife, Clivia.
A future college graduate (psychology), Claire definitely has the music gene. She sang an amazing version of “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me)” for the Convergence album. Her talent, passion, and work ethic make her father proud every day.
Dave’s wife, Clivia (also formerly a singer) has a love and passion for music – and an amazing energy for everything life has to offer. She and Dave share time both in Italy and Los Angeles.
Click here to view Dave Weckl’s comprehensive discography.
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