The Late Show’s Drum Solo Weeks 1 and 2

Twice this year, the Late Show with David Letterman has offered drummers a rare moment in the spotlight with a full week of monster drum solos. The second round of “Drum Solo Week” ended nearly a month ago, but having watched these a few times now, I wanted to compile them all in one and hopefully hear a little about your thoughts. Who were your favorites (and less importantly, least favorites)? What did you guys like/dislike about the format? What do you like to see in a solo? Who would you like to see in the future? What did everyone think of the gear?

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Anton Fig. I really love this guy’s playing. Fig splits the Oz Noy gig with Keith Carlock and Vinnie Colaiuta, so he’s obviously no slouch, but he doesn’t strike me as a chops monster. His solo builds well, feels focused and doesn’t lose too much steam. Very engaging and enjoyable, but not one of my favorites when compared to the others.


Sheila E. All that Tony Williams shit in those big heels? Are you kidding me? Pretty exciting. I could have used a bit more sound from the toms during the vamp, but beyond that, I found Sheila’s solo riveting. Even when the band cut out and her solo seemed to wander a bit, I was still hooked. Great fun with a total knockout ending.


Roy Haynes. A living legend and one of my favorite drummers of all time, I was really happy to see Haynes asked to perform on The Late Show – especially with his band (I can’t get enough of Jaleel Shaw’s playing). While this wasn’t my favorite Roy solo, I’m constantly blown away by how musical he is as he approaches 90 years old. Absolutely one of my favorites from the whole event. He probably borrowed those glasses from Kenny Aronoff.


Neil Peart. I feel like every time I say this, someone gets upset with me, but I’m not a huge fan of Peart’s playing. I know I’ll never been even a tenth the drummer he is, but there’s just something about it that doesn’t speak to me. However, there were a few things about his solo that I really enjoyed (the middle section with the shaker ostinato was nice). Plus, that drum set is a work of art. They must lower him in there with a winch.


Tony Royster. I thought Tony absolutely killed – a comfortably swinging rendition of Caravan with a monster solo section in the middle. How about those right hand/right foot patterns? Awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed every note of Royster’s solo. Good to see that kid finally catch a break.


Gavin Harrison. What a fun solo. Harrison’s toms and bass drum sounded absolutely perfect, the medical tubing and floor tom tone modulation thing was excellent (one of my favorite tricks) and the bit with the splash set was just great. Great chops, lots of music and a great surprise.


Stewart Copeland. I thought this was a nice surprise. Less of a solo and more of a full performance. I thought both Copeland’s and the orchestra’s arrangements were really enjoyable. Everything sounded balanced and smooth (with the exception of the octobans?), and on the whole, his appearance was very enjoyable.


Dennis Chambers. While not quite what I was hoping for (not to say I was disappointed, I just had different expectations), Chambers performance was still pretty powerful. Watching a guy that gifted sit back on Cissy Strut and then totally erupt was a lot of fun. That left side crash blended so beautifully. Overall, I thought this was a great finish to the second week.


So, what did you think? Let me know below!

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