Dave Weckl – Backstage at Iridium Jazz Club with the Oz Noy Trio Feat (Part 3)

Dave Weckl (center) on drums with Oz Noy (L) on guitar and Will Lee (R) on bass at Iridium.


Iridium Jazz Club, just north of Times Square in New York City, plays host to some of jazz’s most established legends as well as the hottest newcomers. Recently, Iridium hosted the fantastic trio of headliners performing as the Oz Noy Trio Feat. Noy was joined by drumming legend, Dave Weckl and bass virtuoso, Will Lee for an unforgettable (and totally packed) gig at Iridium. Sundancechannel.com was lucky enough to catch up will all three musicians between sets. Click to read Part 1 with Oz Noy and Part 2 with Will Lee.

Part 3 – Dave Weckl

Sundancechannel.com: With your very defined individual careers, how often do you guys get the opportunity to work together like this?

Dave Weckl: Not that often. I just actually started playing with Oz a couple of years ago, off and on, and we’ve… this is probably the 4th or 5th gig I’ve done with him over the last two years. It’s a blast for me – I love his music, you know, and Will Lee – I used to play with him when I lived here back in the ’80′s in New York City when I was just coming into the scene. I used to work with Will quite a bit in the studios and with different groups… so it’s really a blast to be able to play with him again. We don’t really, unfortunately, get to play together too much. And Oz has a couple of different inceptions of the group – he plays locally all the time with some other guys – and we’re going to Japan later in the year with James Genus on bass. So there are different guys always playing with him.

Oz is such a talent, you know – and it’s, for me, I’ve kind of gone back to more of a side man career the last couple of years – I don’t have my own group right now. So that’s one of the things that’s allowed me to play with Oz and some other people in the last couple of years. It’s been nice to re-join some people I haven’t played with in a while like Will and to also, you know, be able to play with some new people like Oz.

Sundancechannel.com: Where did you grow up and what kind of musical opportunities did you have?

Dave Weckl: I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I was an only kid. My parents were supportive, so I had a lot of time to really nurture the craft and I was able to practice pretty much as much as I wanted to. I left home when I was about 19 and came up here to the east coast and went to school at Bridgeport University for – not that long… about a year and a half because I started touring. But it was a great experience because I got into a really good band sort of based out of the school at that point and we started playing in NY and we would play a lot of clubs around town and that’s sort of how I got noticed.

Sundancechannel.com: You played with people like Chick Corea

Dave Weckl: Yeah, but before that I was in town playing with Michel Camilo’s group and Anthony Jackson’s group. Anthony got me on the Simon and Garfunkel tour and then I started doing a lot of studio work… and it kind of just happens like that, you know? Once you get the break and you actually cut it, then you get the opportunities. So I sort of cut my teeth around the studios and all in NY… then the Chick Corea thing happened.

Sundancechannel.com: You are a huge favorite among professional drummers – and many drummers of all levels bring up “playing backward” when they talk about Dave Weckl. What is that and why are so many drummers obsessed with that concept?

Dave Weckl: Well, because I sort of made a big deal about it when I stumbled upon… I call it “playing backwards,” but it’s actually taking phrasings that would work against a normal pulse and kind of flipping them upside down or inverting them so that the accent pattern is in a different place. So you can take a very simple beat and just invert it and turn it… so instead of the bass drum on the bottom and the snare drum being on 2 and 4, it would be the other way around – it would sound completely flipped and backwards and then you can pretty much get into, you know, all kinds of different versions of that with displacing by an eighth or a sixteenth. And I sort of made a big deal about it early in my career because I stumbled upon it by accident – and it was a way to come up with some new phrasings. Unfortunately, everybody sort of took it and ran with it and made too big of a deal out of it and didn’t take musical responsibility with the concept – which is sometimes the problem with talking about something that’s exciting for the individual and you find a new way to create some different phrasings and stuff. But I’ve always tried to do it in a musical way where it’s done a little bit with taste and tact, hopefully, so that it doesn’t throw off the band or throw off the listener that much. It’s really just a way of coming up with some new phrasings, but it should always be, you know, with not damaging the music in mind. So I don’t make such a big deal about it anymore – although, a lot of my phrasings are based off of some of what would be called a “backwards phrasing.”

Sundancechannel.com: Are you still able to find time to teach?

Dave Weckl: Not as much anymore – I used to do quite a lot of it. I do it when I can now, but my studio – I have a little studio in Los Angeles in my place, and I’m so busy in my own room now because with the advent of the internet and sending tracks and files around by the net, I do tons of records and tons of tracks for everybody all over the planet all the time in my house. So I’m either recording, doing that type of thing or I’ve also gotten into mixing on my own. I’m about to embark on a new internet-only based project of putting out tunes that I’ll sell only on the internet and it’s going to be the song without all of the instruments – a different version for each instrument – so people can play along with it with a chart. Maybe a video of a little bit of my performance or something like that with it. I just don’t have time to make CD’s, but I want to keep the creative flow going and people always ask me “What’s going on with your band?” So this is kind of a way for me to keep my creative juices flowing and produce some tracks that I want to play and also give the people who are interested in learning to have fun playing along with something.

Sundancechannel.com: Where can people see you this summer?

Dave Weckl: I do a lot of work with Mike Stern – I’ve worked with a lot of guitarists lately – Oz, Chuck Loeb. Mike Stern keeps me really busy – we have a lot of fun playing together. We just had a new DVD come out… a live DVD, so we’ll be in Europe this summer in a lot of the clubs and festivals. (Check out Dave’s tour schedule!)

Read More:

Dave Weckl Official Site

Oz Noy Official Site

Will Lee Official Site

Iridium Jazz Club Official Site

Interview with Will Lee

Interview with Oz Noy