"Lenore" is a track from Chick Corea's 1976 jazz album, The Leprechaun, which features Steve Gadd on drums. It was recorded during the same time Corea was working with his jazz-fusion group, Return To Forever, which explains why the album has a fusion edge to it. Further evidence to this fusion sound is Gadd's funk-samba and linear drumming approach which we'll look at in this lesson.

Although the grooves between the A and B section of this tune are different, there's a common thread, as far as the drums are concerned, that runs through the entire tune ... funk-samba. If we understand what funk and samba are individually, we can see how these two can be combined in a way to create a hybrid groove — something I like to call funk-samba. The key ingredient that I look for in order to qualify a groove as funk-samba is simply a funk groove that displaces the back-beat on Beat Two by one sixteenth-note in either direction. In the case of "Lenore", Gadd shifts (displaces) the backbeat one sixteenth-note early, before Beat Two; the most common of the two funk-samba qualifiers.

Now that we've established what funk-samba is, let's look at the two different grooves, performed at 130 bpm, that Gadd uses in this particular tune.

In the A Section (see below), Steve lays down a nice linear groove, employing the Floor Tom to cover the downbeat of Beat One. Using an "open grip" and keeping the left hand on the HiHat allows the right hand to move between the Snare and Floor Tom. Steve's personal exploration and experimentation of placing the left hand on the HiHat is what fueled and produced many of his legendary grooves, such as "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover".

Steve Gadd - A Section

During the B Section (see below), Steve plays a quasi-linear groove where the Kick drum always sounds with the HiHat, but when the Kick drum isn't played, the hands, on HiHat and Snare, are playing a full-on linear pattern. Steve maintains the funk-samba feel, displacing Beat Two, but pushes the samba influence a bit more by displacing Beat Four — except in this case he's shifting the backbeat one sixteenth-note later, not earlier.

Steve Gadd - B Section

It's not enough to just get the mechanics down; there's more to the groove than just playing the notated parts. Spend an equal amount of time, if not more, listening to Steve's performance. Notice his note placement, ghost-strokes, and overall balance (volume and sound) between the various voices within the drumkit. THIS is what makes Steve Gadd the master groove giant ... something he's known for and continues to be!