Monday, May 18, 2015

Groove o' the day: Terry Bozzio with Group 87

This is not the Bozzio thing I was talking about in that last post— this is just a teaser for the big-Bozzio thing yet to come. This is Sublime Feline, by Group 87— a band Terry Bozzio joined after leaving Frank Zappa. This was the cutting edge of techno-fusion then, around the turn of the 80s. For a time, in drumming, it was a thing to make up distinctive grooves, and this is a very 80s form of that thing— it really couldn't be more 80s, unless he played it on some Simmons drums.

This groove uses snare, bass, two toms, hihat, and a bell sound:

He talks about the bell sound, and his philosophy on cymbals (at the time) in that same 1981 MD interview:

TB: ...I found that since I'm not playing jazz anymore, the only thing I want a cymbal for is to sort of have a click or a white noise kind of crash, or a ping like a cymbal bell. I don't use the normal ride sound. I don't want that. I found that I sort of OD'd on that in my years with Zappa and I don't really like the way it sounds when you play it back. I don't think it fits into a modern approach to music. I use a lot of hi-hat, and try to be melodic with my sounds and with the beats that I do. Sort of like what I did with U.K. on "Rondevous 602," and what I did with Group 87. 
MD: You have the bell of a cymbal that's been cut out? 
TB: No, it's what Paiste calls an 8" bell cymbal. It's quite thick, and if you hit it in just the right place, it sounds very close to a cymbal bell, especially when you're playing live. Through the PA it's close enough. And that way it eliminates having this huge 22 inches of metal that I'm not using there, and which I'm very tempted to hit, but which washes everything out.

This music may be difficult for you— it is for me. As someone who grew up in the 80s, the vibe here triggers some feelings about the unpleasant aspects of that period. But if you can listen past the slick vibe and Aldo Nova haircuts, it is actually great music, and there's a lot to be learned here. If you got really into his playing, you would sound like no one else playing today. At the very least, he plays some cool tom tom fills...

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