Insinuating grooves and stellar songwriting are the watchwords of Look Out Now!, the sophomore album from The Gaddabouts. An all-star group featuring renowned singer-songwriter and musician Edie Brickell along with drumming great Steve Gadd, bassist Pino Palladino and guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, The Gaddabouts may seem an unlikely pairing on the surface, but they exude a rare chemistry in the studio on the 17-song, double disc album. In addition to the core quartet, Look Out Now! features guest appearances by baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, organist-accordionist Larry Goldings, percussionist Pedrito Martinez, pianist Axel Tosca, vibraphonist-marimba player Mike Mainieri and violinist Andrea Zonn. From the playful opening track, an impromptu studio jam titled “Meat On Your Bones,” to the laid back second line flavored title track with its catchy vocal shout choruses, to the jazzy “House on Fire,” and “Free,” the poignant “Blessed Days” and plaintive lament “Don’t Take All Day,” the pointed, politically-tinged “Corruption” and the ominous cautionary tale “Younger Woman,” Look Out Now! is chockfull of potent observations and superb playing by this copasetic crew.
“We’re inspired by working with Edie,” says Gadd, who produced the album and is the de facto leader of The Gaddabouts. “Her songs just bring out different ideas in us, and these are all seasoned guys who can bring a lot to the table just from what they hear, allowing the inspiration to bring music out of them. When she gets in the zone, it’s contagious. And you like to just go with the flow when it’s happening.” Brickell adds, “These guys have the ability to transform something into a song with much greater personality than what I offered them. So it’s so exciting for me to work with them. This is my basic analogy towards this project: You hand these guys an acorn and within minutes you see this giant shady oak tree by a river.”
The singer-songwriter, who catapulted to fame in 1988 with her band New Bohemians on the strength of their platinum-selling album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, credits Gadd with encouraging her to continue writing tunes while she was off raising a family and also creating a climate of laid-back spontaneity in the studio during the Look Out Now! sessions. “I couldn’t believe how easy and effortless it was with Steve because I was accustomed to going into a recording situation and having to play a song 50 times before you got it right. As a vocalist, you give your best performance with all your heart and soul on the first 15 takes, and then after that it’s kind of hard to do. But with Steve it was like…Boom! First take, there it is! And that just felt so joyous and liberating. He wanted to keep everything as live as possible in the studio, and we did.”
Preserving the magic of first takes was uppermost in Gadd’s mind while producing Look Out Now! “He wanted to keep the purity of that energy and I think you can feel that on the record,” says Brickell. ”It’s so much what I love about the older records by Duke Ellington and Django Reinhardt with Stephane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France. My whole life I wanted to make records like that and I wasn’t able to realize that until the past couple of years working with The Gaddabouts.”
Though Brickell had met Gadd back in 1992 when the drumming great was touring with her husband, pop icon Paul Simon, it wasn’t until 2000 that the two first talked about forming a band. “One day he just said to me, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘You know, just hanging out, raising my kids, going to the park every day…and loving it.’ And he said, ‘You need to start making records again.’ And that got the ball rolling.”
The two initially got together a few years later at the Hit Factory in Manhattan to work on recording demos of Brickell’s songs. When Gadd was convinced that there was enough rich material to put an album together, he recruited guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, whom he had played with in Eric Clapton’s band, and bassist Pino Palladino, with whom he had done a session in London several years earlier. It was Brickell, deferring to the gifted drummer-producer, who suggested naming the group The Gaddabouts. That led to 2011’s self-titled debut album and subsequently to their current sophomore release, Look Out Now!
Gadd, one of the most admired drummers on the planet, is known for his ubiquitous session work during the ‘70s and ‘80s with a bevy of pop stars including Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Kate Bush and Eric Clapton as well as jazz artists like Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Bob James, David Sanborn, George Benson, and Al Di Meola. He was a longstanding member of the quintessential New York groove band Stuff, and has also led his own impressive band The Gadd Gang. Guitarist Andy Fairweather Low is renowned for his work with Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings while in-demand bassist Pino Palladino has a lengthy list of sideman credits, including tours and recordings with The Who, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, John Mayer and Elton John. Following the band’s eponymous 2011 debut, The Gaddabouts made their live debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall as part of the WFUV concert series in April 2011. Their 2012 sophomore outing, Look Out Now!, takes things up a couple of notches.
“I’m just really excited to be working with The Gaddabouts,” says Brickell. “They’re such great guys and so supportive. And I just love the music we make together. When I was recording with them I would go home so excited. I couldn’t sleep; I was so physically happy and joyful. But I had been doing things this other way, this old way, for so long that I never experienced that kind of feeling before. I love writing songs and love singing them. When Steve started encouraging me, I realized, ‘I can’t stop writing songs.’ I love music so much. Steve came in like the knight in shining armor. So now with The Gaddabouts, the emphasis is on him and the musicianship. And I am finally completely comfortable and extremely excited about making music again.”
—Photos by Amy Beth McNeely