The Maple Leaf Bar
Previte, Vidacovich, and Moore
December 12, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
A groovy calm washed from the three drummers onto the audience. They had taken their amplitude down and managed to lock in on a sweet, elemental beat. Bobby Previte added color on the hi-hat and its bell, Johnny Vidacovich added barely susceptible texture with his brushes on the snare and the hi-hat, and Stanton Moore kept a prominent rhythm on the rim of his floor tom. It was smooth. The drummers smiled. They knew they had stumbled onto something special.
That was the whole point of the drum kit circle at The Maple Leaf Bar Sunday night--finding new rhythms and new beats. The three drummers had played together before, but by the joy on their faces as they stared each other in the eye to convey happiness or send a signal was proof enough that they were never satisfied. What else was out there?
So, some background: Stanton Moore is the homeboy Galactic drummer that made it away. Johnny Vidacovich is the legendary local Astral Project drummer that made it at home. Bobby Previte is the '80's to '00's internationally reknown NYC drummer that is known just as much for his skills as he is for his compositions.
Three forces and egos that showed no need to be superior Sunday night. With their expertise, it was inevitable that some great progressions and fills would come out of the concert. Still, each drummer played not to impress but for the beat and to complement the other two percussionists.
Moore, with his drumset closest to the audience, was the de facto leader. If there was a primary beat to build off of or a kick drum to be kicked, he was on it. The three dabbled in tribal beats throughout the concert, but at one point Moore hit the tribal motherloade with a multi-stroked monster of a rhythm he was playing on his snare and floor tom. It would have been enough by itself, and it was fun to see the others embellish upon it with no worry for failure. Actually, I don't think there was such a thing as failure in that circle--just level of feeling.
Maybe because he was in the middle of the room, Vidacovich's main job was to add flourishes here and there. He did have his moments during a circular spotlight that moved from drummer to drummer, though. It went like this: for about seven to ten rounds, each drummer played a solo fill for a small number of measures before the rest of the drummers joined back in. Then, it would go back to the solo. After the rounds, the spotlight was passed on to the next drummer. Most of the fills showcased complicated movements, so it was that much better, funnier and more of a testament to the beauty of simplicity in drumming when Vidacovich took one of his fills and hit the snare and hi-hat once.
Previte was the everyman on the side. Straight beats, atmospheric cymbal action, or rim-based contributions. His main asset were his three electronic drum pads. The electronic sounds filled in the holes present in any drum circle. Even though the sounds didn't create melodies, they did create nice color. When Moore was on a tribal bent, Previte used his pad to create a barrage of artificial kick drum hits that made the beat nasty.
It was plain fun to watch those three guys go at it. They came up with some great stuff, and the crowd of people dancing a little and applauding a lot were a testament to that.