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The Prof is in. Jeff Porcaro

Posted by Gareth Makin on

After featuring Shannon Forest in the last cymbal set up blog, it seemed important to follow on with one of his (and many other peoples) influences, the ever present (turn on the radio) and (in my humble opinion) brilliant Jeff Porcaro.

I can't write much here that will be new for anyone to read but if you haven't heard of him I'll try to do some 'filling' (see what I did there...it's a blog about drummers and they play fills...oh, never mind).

Son of the venerable Joe Porcaro (a great drummer in his own right) and brother to a great bass player (Mike Porcaro, sadly no longer with us), Jeff Porcaro was one of those musicians who just, well, owned the drum seat to a number of great recordings in the 1970's, 80's and 90's.  Paul McCartney, Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Ricki Lee Jones, Miles Davis, Dire Straits (I'm running out of breath here), George Benson, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and many more artists, called on him for his musicality, killer feel and sensitive chops.

He's probably most well know for his membership of the studio supergroup Toto, laying down some of the most iconic grooves of recent history.  'Hold the line', 'Africa' and 'Rosanna' to name but three (yes, I am a drummer and I am a friend to 'three' too). 

Elements of these parts had been done before (Bernard Purdie and John Bonham particularly for 'Rosanna'), but like most great players it was the distillation of these through his playing that means we are still talking about them (and him) today.

He used Paiste cymbals almost exclusively through his career selecting them for there aplicability (yes, it is a word) and span over many musical settings.

Here's an insight into one of his cymbal set ups courtesy of Toto's Official website.

2002 Line (but he did also use the Signature line too) -
14" Heavy Hi Hats
19" Crash
21" Crash
22" Ride
19" Crash
(20" China Type)

Sadly Jeff died in 1992 but he has left us with a study of considered, dynamic and more importantly, musical drumming.  Oh and his sixteenth note grooves can be likened to the smoothness of a very,  very smooth thing (check out his 'snap ups' exercise on his 'Jeff Porcaro Master Session' DVD).  They have the power to make me smile broadly every time I hear one! 

Until next time, happy playing and listening (always listening) and let's keep that volume down cymbomute fans!

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