You can tell. Chad Rager says that his musical influences include Buddy Rich, David Garibaldi, Billy Cobham, and Steve Condos, and you can hear a little of each of those widely-varied artists in Chad's drumming. The Chad Rager Groove is a high-energy, drummer-driven horn band that blends big-band sensibilities and arrangements with modern funk and jazz.
Chad's new 2012 release, GROOVIN' HARD, was recorded live at the historic Paramount Theatre in Anderson, Indiana. "I prefer recording live as it has everybody going for it knowing there's no second chance," says Chad. "I think it keeps you fearless."
Chad continues, "The concept for Groovin' Hard was to go for more of a jazz-rock feel and sound like the great horn bands of the 70's. Our new version of 'What Is Hip?' shows how 'hip' that song is when presented as a big-band chart."
Ever since my own experiences in high school and college jazz ensembles, I've loved big-band jazz. The Chad Rager Groove provides a rare opportunity in today's world to hear real big-band jazz and funk, played with fire and passion. With Chad's spot-on drumming style driving the band, it's a sure-fire combination.
- Steve Finch, Director of Operations, Strokeland Records
"Hazy May" and "Say Hello to Never" are covers of classic tunes by Strongbow, one of Chad's favorite rock bands. Keyboardist Brooke Hopkins plays a burning solo on "Say Hello to Never" and "Hazy May" features trombonist Will Frazier. "Groovin Hard" and "Dancing Men" are from the great Buddy Rich big-band. Tenor sax player Kenny Kipp is featured there and throughout the CD.
"Brother to Brother", the great Gino Vanelli composition, is a great showpiece for Chad's dynamic drumming. "Caravan" features the trumpets of Wes Orr and Joe Miller, and the arranging skills of Brooke Hopkins. Bari sax player Tom Meyer is featured on "Tangled and Dark", a very sultry grooving tune by Bonnie Raitt.
Groovin Hard had me moving from the beginning to the end. To that point, I realized I was listening to very well-orchestrated Big Band music that touched on all levels of modern music that I had grown up with. An accomplishment to be proud of, definitely on the A list.
- Nort Hargrove, VP Manufacturing, Sabian Cymbals
The hard-driving shuffle, "Footstompin' Music", from Grand Funk opens the CD and is a great showcase for the band. "Getaway" by Earth, Wind & Fire gets a funky treatment with Adam Kraus' bass taking the spotlight.
Regarding the challenges of capturing a big-band in a live situation, Chad says "Engineer Corey Miller deserves a lot of credit for capturing the sound of the Chad Rager Groove on this project."
Check out GROOVIN' HARD for yourself and enjoy some first-rate instrumental jazz and funk.