Golden Wolf Records GW009LP
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****
Drummer and producer Adam Deitch has worked on a lot of records since 1994, with musicians as diverse as John Scofield and DJ Quik. He is a member of three bands, which gives him the opportunity to show his grasp of different musical styles: electronica with Break Science, psychedelic funk with Lettuce, and 1960s-style soul jazz with the Adam Deitch Quartet.
Deitch has mastered funk-jazz drumming à la Idris Muhammad, but his musical personality is so distinctive that he often has a major influence on sessions. The Scofield albums he appears on—Überjam (2002), Up All Night (2003), and Überjam Deux (2013)—are defined as much by Deitch’s drumming as they are by Scofield’s guitar-playing.
Roll the Tape is the second Adam Deitch Quartet album; like its predecessor, Egyptian Secrets (2019), it’s on Deitch’s own label, Golden Wolf Records. Deitch wrote the tunes on the album, and the quartet is composed of Deitch on drums, Wil Blades on organ and clavinet, Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet, and Ryan Zoidis on saxophone. The latter two musicians play with Deitch in Lettuce.
Blades plays low notes on the clavinet on “Lay It Back” while his Hammond organ sets a groove alongside Deitch’s refined, solidly funky drumming. Zoidis and Bloom state the melody, and Zoidis’s sax has an electronically processed tone that is probably the result of a Varitone. The tune flows with the easy funk of Eddie Harris’s late-1960s recordings, and Blades’s bass-pedal lines make it pop. Deitch’s terrific melody gives Zoidis and Bloom generous opportunity for improvisation.
Scofield guests on guitar for “Mushroom Gravy,” and he turns in a fiery performance that is well framed by the quartet’s backing. Blades’s Hammond organ provides plenty of grease, but the horn arrangement raises the temperature and Scofield responds accordingly. He obviously has an affinity and affection for soul jazz, which he often returns to in his own recordings. Scofield’s name on the album cover may help drive sales for Deitch, and the guitarist should consider having this group back him on his next recording.
“The Green Light” is swiftly paced and spirited, with shifting tempos and some melodic change-ups. Deitch plays with unflagging energy, giving emphasis to the soloists and pushing them to play with greater intensity. The rest of the quartet comps behind Deitch’s solo spot at the end of the track, which is full of funk and fire. The lovely “Alone Together” embraces ’70s soul balladry, with sensitive ensemble passages by Zoidis and Bloom. The song features warmly expressive solos from Bloom and Blades and a fine closing statement from Zoidis.
Two tracks are given over to solos by Deitch. Both show off his impressive drum skills as well as his talents as a composer. “Language Interlude 3” and “Language Interlude 4” are companion pieces that follow similar rhythmic patterns, from which Deitch branches off to develop ideas suggested in the opening themes. Like the best drummers, Deitch thinks both rhythmically and melodically, and the two solo tracks are not placeholders—they stand on their own as carefully developed, fully thought-out musical statements.
Blades takes us to church for the opening two minutes of “Have Faith.” His work on the bass pedals provides a solid foundation for the notes that pour out of the Hammond organ through a swirling Leslie speaker. The tune moves into a faster paced, rhythmically firmer section, with strong ensemble playing and dazzling solos; Bloom plays a wonderful trumpet feature with the aid of a wah pedal. The track gives Blades his best solo on the album, and the tune carries such a strong gospel spirit that I hope Deitch will find a way to adapt it for a choir.
As Deitch asserts in his liner notes to Roll the Tape, “drummers are composers, too.” The ten songs on the album are not just an excuse for the group to jam. Every track on the album has a strong melody that grabs your ear and stays with you. Deitch certainly writes songs that show his drumming to good advantage, but he never forgets to write and arrange music that also presents the considerable range and talents of the other members of the quartet.
The group recorded Roll the Tape at Scanhope Sound in Colorado, and I was pleased to see a photo of a Studer A827 2″ 24-track tape machine on the back cover. Josh Fairman engineered the album, and it has the analog warmth and musicality of a vintage recording. The low frequencies came through forcefully on my system, allowing Deitch’s kick drum and Blades’s bass pedals to register solidly. Deitch’s snare drum had loads of high-end sharpness, and the recording conveyed a good sense of the dimensions of the studio.
Vancouver, Canada’s Clampdown Record Pressing manufactured the two LPs in the set, and I was impressed with the quiet backgrounds. My copies arrived flat and well centered.
I checked out Deitch’s recordings with Lettuce and Break Science, and his versatility is impressive. He does so many things well that I’d hate to see him focus on one band or project. However, after hearing Roll the Tape and the group’s debut album, I’d certainly like to hear a lot more from the Adam Deitch Quartet.
. . . Joseph Taylor