Saturday, July 31, 2010


First of all, since I'm not fancy and imbedding video links here, here's an old school link to a recent Michael Landau show featuring Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. It's great blues playing, and Abe is a groove drummer, so he has no problem with it. Look how happy Abe looks when he is playing.

You can also see Abe playing with the early 2000's live BACK IN THE U.S. DVD of Paul McCartney's world tour. Great drumming throughout, and Abe's been playing behind Macca for about the last decade, and that's a mighty good gig to have.

You've probably saw him playing with Macca at the Superbowl halftime a few years back. He's a big feller and plays a HUGE BASS DRUM and according to friends of mine who are also studio and touring musicians and run in some of the same professional circles as Abe when they are at home in L.A., he's a super nice fellow with no star ego or complex happening. He's there to play, and for the fellowship as he can often be found gigging in places like THE BAKED POTATO or the few other great live places that book itenerent conglomerations or one-off bands of famous working musicians banding together for irregular gigs when their main gigs are not working.

Two of my guitar-slinger friends who have been out there beating a living out of the L.A. music scene for twenty and thirty years respectively have worked with him often and have nothing but praise for his playing and his easy going self. He's there for the music and has fun with the music and is a great player and a monster groove drummer.

In addition to that, Abe does session work with lots of groups, and has been part of a few interesting part time groups as well. I've even got a CD of a working band he was in years ago when he attended Berkley.

Abe often favors kits with 26" or 28" bass drums with 18" diameters. Dat's a big arse bass drum. Most guys like me in working bands tend to play 22" or occasionally a 24" bass drum for projection but for some east of transport. A 26/28" bass drum is a monster if tuned right with the right heads and bearing edges on it, and Abe certainly knows how to get a great sound out of his huge bass drums. Simply huge bass drum sound.

I enjoy watching him play. Although highly technically proficient and capable of performing all sorts of whirlwind paradiddles and other rudiments at amazing speed and spread amongst his four limbs, he's mostly a groove drummer, and being that sort of drummer myself when playing blues and rock and such, I find him highly inspiring.

It's a serious thing to throw down, and as much as I think Ringo is one of the kings of groove drumming and how impossible to replace Ringo it would be, Abe does it with humility, with respect and with a nod to tradition when playing Beatles songs with Macca. There's also a little bit of a touch of Abe thrown in the mix on occasion, and it's always a great lick or groove.

Abe does it simple with Macca, although large. A huge bass drum, a 14" or 15" tom tom mounted on a snare stand to the side of the huge bass drum, a snare and an 18" floor tom. Three huge cymbals and a set of hats (probably 15") complete his classic Macca sets.

I've seen vids of him playing live with Sting (best drummer Sting's ever had since the Police demise, imho) using two wing toms, and sometimes several snares or floors. Like many, he varies his gear for the gig. I've seen pics of sets he's playing at small clubs that appear to have a-more- reasonable-to transport 24" bass, 16" floor and 13" tom, these gigs being during NAMM conventions.

Do a wiki or a google on Abe Laboriel Jr. and see the many bands and artists that Abe has played with. It's a phenominal list. For several years, I found deals on the net on used CD's featuring Abe playing with a huge variety of artists, including an obscure act called Chocolate Genius, which actually has some great stuff.

His dad, Abe Laboriel, has also played bass for gazillions of artists over the past few decades, a who's who of musicians. Check out some of his stuff too. He's a monster bass player and has really played with some cool outfits over the years, in addition to tons of studio work. You've probably heard him on tunes decades ago, but never knew he was playing bass. More of a jazz cat, I'm pretty sure he did his fair share of studio gigs playing outside his general jazzy genres over the years.

I've got a substantial collection of Abe cd's where he is playing on other folks stuff. Some of the pop stuff was just not my cup of tea but some of it has been kinda cool. The stuff I didn't like hit the cd store or ebay and I kept the rest.

I can't believe I have not written about Abe before. He's an interesting individual, who seems to have a lot of inner peace and serenity, something probably many of us could use a little more of in our lives.

I think a Modern Drummer interview back around 2002 or so with Abe found Abe saying that his goal as a drummer (and a great singer, btw) is "FOR HIM TO BRING JOY TO THE MUSIC".

I really and truly adopted that mantra to my musical endeavors after reading that. Even when I was doing gigs whose music didn't particularly make my bones wanna jiggle and shake and move, I gave the same effort and happiness to the gig to make it happen as best as I could make it, with a smile on my face and not worrrying about the small stuff I used to gripe and moan about.

So I learned a thing or two from reading about Abe's life, and deciding that my musical endeavors deserved a much more mellow and happy direction. No frustration. No self-bashing about one's mistakes. Getting into the music and your fellow bandmates for the sake of the music and playing for the song.

I've generally got along well in the bands I've been in, and often in the role of peacemaker between the "more creative" instrumentalists and "artists" with egos the size of an Escalade. Thank goodness and the Lord above that most of the folks I've made music with were really nice folks who were fun to make music with and to hang with, and that they had little ego problems. I've always promoted peace and harmony in my musical gigs because the negative energy just spoils the music and the connection between musicians.

But watching Abe and reading about him reinforced these ideas in me, driving me to almost a zen-like attitude about it. It's a attitude that could east one's own lifestyle, and I've been trying to adopt it fully in my professional and personal life as well. I've done pretty good at it lately I think, and Abe had some inspiration for me to strive to be better and continue as the peacemaker in those sometimes talented but stormy musical liasons.

So keep an eye out for Abe, or if you're interested, the Macca's Live In The US dvd is an excellent introduction to his great drumming style and the entire band just rocks like nobody's business.

1 comment:

  1. Just a little correction, though I know this was posted a hundred years ago: you say 18" diameter above, when you mean depth. The 26" or 28" dimension of Abe's bass drums is the diameter. A diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. I also have a couple tapes from when Abe was at Berklee. Changed my life, as I moved to the Boston area to replace him in a band based on those tapes. I'll search for an email address on your page to send you a file. Peace, and good fishing.