For those of you who don't know who Steve Gadd is, in the drumming community he has few peers. These days, if he's not on the road with Eric Clapton, he's probably playing with Paul Simon. And in the '70s, he played on a number of Steely Dan tracks, including the title track to 1977's Aja.
The drum solo in "Aja" is an intricate, effortless classic (@5:10, above). In geeky drum circles, legend has it that Gadd threw down on the first take, and was in the studio for just a few minutes. If true, it's an incredible feat. If not true, it's still incredible. OK, now that we're on the same page--and Steely Dan is playing the WaMu Theatre tomorrow--here's a quick note to Mr. Gadd.
Dear Mr. Gadd: Chris here. Big fan, sir. Big fan. For more than a decade, I've been trying to find out if in fact you played the "Aja" bit on your first take. I haven't always tried very hard, but I have spoken to several people who have claimed to know you. They didn't know the answer, but they said they'd try and find out. Well, here I am today.
What do you say? Can you tell me about the session? Was it done in one take? When you're sitting at your computer and the song comes on, do you play the drum part along with your hands on your desk? Just me?