Awesome drums by Gary Novak

Like I mentioned the other day – I have written about my workflow and how I arrange a song. Today, we’ll stay on the track of the real deal – recording drums. I’ll introduce you to world class drummer Gary Novak – the nicest hang with a killer pocket.

Groovy drums by Gary Novak on the Gratitude album

I feel extremely blessed because I’ve had the pleasure to play with some of the best drummers in the world: Steve Ferrone, Gregg Bissonette, Chad Wackerman, the late Ricky Lawson and more – yes I’m spoiled – and I’m so happy and proud to be able to add Gary Novak to that list!

Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip recording for the Gratitude album with Soren Reiff
Engineer Stig Kaufmanas, Soren Reiff, Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip in the studio

Gary’s name became known to me from his playing with Chick Corea. After Chick Corea he played with Alanis Morissette and worked with artists such as Lee Ritenour, Eros Ramazzotti, Robben Ford and many more. I guess it goes without saying that he is a killer drummer with amazing chops and the ability to read his a.. off.

I hadn’t met Gary before I picked him and Jimmy Haslip (who was playing bass on the session) up at the hotel on our way to the studio. Jimmy and Gary are incredible persons and I could instantly feel it would be a great day.

When we arrived to the studio we had a little snack while Gary used a few minutes to check if the drums were cool, a few minutes to decide which cymbals and snare that would be appropriate and a few minutes to set up his monitors thru his earplugs. After that we chilled a bit, talked about mics, preamps and the console we used for the session.

Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak in the studio, recording for the Gratitude album with Soren Reiff
Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak in the studio, recording for the Gratitude album with Soren Reiff

When it came down to recording, I played the song for Gary while he read my music sheets. We talked about a few details like side-stick or not, the dynamics and so before we started recording the tracks.

The assistant engineers and the guests that visited the studio while we recorded were blown away! Gary nailed all the tracks with his awesome grooves, tasteful fills, tons of energy played to click track, reading my sheets – and this was done the first time thru – you can’t ask for more. Occasionally I had a few wishes for minor adjustments, and we did a second take of the song. For one we actually ended up doing a third take. But if I remember correctly I ended up using Gary’s first takes for most of the tunes if not all of them!

I love the way Gary is wild during the outro on “Make some noise”, just like I’m crazy about how he’s burning hot on “You Turn Me On” and “I Can’t Deny” … actually I can’t pick a favorite of mine. Every track just got exactly the drums they needed. And the way he and Jimmy Haslip are interacting, playing together, playing my tracks like they have known them for years are incredible.

It’s no wonder that musicians like Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip are constantly busy and in demand. To play like they do is fantastic, and on top of that they are the nicest hang – incredible persons! I’m so glad and proud that they are a part of my album – THANK you guys!

All the very best


NB: you can also read about Jimmy Haslip here & Gary Novak here.

2 Replies to “Awesome drums by Gary Novak”

  1. Thanks for the post, Soren. Gary’s my idol, way above Buddy Rich and the rest. Because of his versatility and feel. His feel is so crisp. He’s a thinker as well. He understands the mission of the song, and compliments it. His talents go beyond drumming though. I heard he was writing movie soundtracks or something. His ear is off the charts, just like his dad’s.

    1. Thanks for letting me know – and yes Gary is outstanding and a fabulous drummer, as well as a wonderful human being.
      So sorry to hear if he has any problems with his ears – haven’t seen him for a while.
      All the very best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.