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Pat Petrillo: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Pat Petrillo.

Pat Petrillo’s new single “48th Street” with his “Big Rhythm Band” is getting a lot of buzz and a great response at SJN. He also appears on the cover of the February issue of Modern Drummer Magazine. We grabbed a few moments with the veteran drummer and band leader this past week.

Pat, congratulations on the new single “48th Street”. Tell us about the inspiration behind this tune.

Thanks so much, Allen! I wrote this as an homage to “Music Row”, 48th Street in Manhattan, where we all used to hang, meet, rehearse, record, buy gear, you name it! It’s not the same anymore, but when I was coming up, it was an electric scene. It’s got that 70’s NYC feel and vibe to it. You’ll see that in the video as well.

And you’ve got Nile Rodgers featured on guitar.

Yes! I wrote this with Nile in mind, actually. When I sent him the demo, he was “all in”, so it was really an honor to hear that famous rhythm guitar on my tune. Plus, I wrote a lead line for him as well. On the album version, he also plays a burning solo! Truly the an icon, and someone I admired growing up. He just received a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Grammy as well.

The horn section is amazing as well. Tell us how you got this amazing group together.

Well, I always wanted to form my own “horn band”, which were very popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Growing up with that sound in my ear, it was a natural thing for me to do. Plus, here in New Jersey/New York there’s so many great players! So, I just called up my friends and started rehearsing tunes. My first album, “The Abbey Road Sessions”, was recorded in Studio 2, and that was a blast. We tracked some great arrangements of Beatles classics. We cut the horns here, then sent the tracks to Abbey Road and I cut drums where Ringo sat and we used the original pianos. That CD only can be found on my site

This new album is titled “The Power Station Sessions”. Tell us more about what we can expect on the full album.

The full album is choke full of a variety of GROOVE MUSIC. It’s not a “smooth jazz” record per se, it’s more like record you would here in the 70’s …funky, soulful, organic, exciting…and surprising! The originals I wrote touch on Funk/R&B, Rock, and Fusion. I wrote an homage to the Jersey Shore called “Asbury Daze” that will remind people of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Felicia Collins, guitarist for the Late Night with David Letterman Band takes the lead on that one. The cover arrangements run the gamut between Earth, Wind, & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, and more.

You’ve got a cool cover of one of my favorite Steel Dan tunes “Black Cow.” What was your inspiration to cover this classic?

I never heard a horn band cover that tune, and it’s one of my favs, too. So, I had one of my horn players, Dennis Argul, do a great arrangement. I just swung the groove a bit harder, and I got my friend, the great guitar player Oz Noy, to play the melody and rip a solo.

Another great cover is a bit of a surprise…"Big Man on Mulberry Street,” the Billy Joel classic. That tune is smokin’ hot!

YES…and it was recorded at…The Power Station! Even more reason to put it on this record. Then, my friend Liberty DeVitto, who was Billy’s drummer for years, gave me great insight into the recording of that tune. It was tracked in the VERY SAME ROOM (Studio C)! Serious karma on that track. Again, Oz Noy lays down a great solo. Tom Timko captures the melody so well on Tenor sax.

And I heard a cool vocal cover of a Beatle’s tune in there as well…

Well, Ringo is my biggest inspiration, and so I took record 1, track 1, “It Won’t Be Long”, and turned it into a rockin horn band arrangement, featuring my longtime friend and great singer/songwriter, Glen Burtnik.

You’ve played with some very talented artists over the years. Can you share some highlights?

I would say one the highlights was playing with Patti LaBelle. Not only one of the greatest voices of out time, but an amazing person…and cook! She would bring fried chicken to rehearsal that was to die for. Another would be Gloria Gaynor, just a wonderful iconic voice, very soulful. Also, the numerous Broadway shows I’ve played over years, especially my very first as a sub drummer, the original Broadway production of “A Chorus Line”. By the time I got there, it was on it’s final years, but I played it a few nights a week for the last 2 or 3 years that in ran. It was my first “real” New York gig. Other shows I’ve played, were “Grease”, “Dreamgirls” and “Newsies”.

The smooth jazz records I did with Ed Hamilton on Telarc were fun, working with the late George Howard, and the amazing Stanley Clarke.

Tell us about your commitment to teaching drums, and giving back to the drumming community. You have many instructional videos and books out there.

“Each One, Teach One”, share the gift, teach the next generation of drummers, and whether it’s aspiring professionals, or just for their enjoyment, it brings me satisfaction, and it’s more than that for me, it’s my work. I dedicate a lot of time to it, and it’s very gratifying to help people achieve a goal with music. Anyone looking to check out any of that can visit this link. I’ve also done many appearance on as well. You can find them on youtube.

Any words of advice for up and coming drummers out there?

Musicians in general, my advice is play with anyone you can, because that’s how you meet people who can recommend you for other gigs. Also, being a great person is a million times more important than being a “great” musician. Those are a dime a dozen. Being a good, steady, competent reliable drummer will get you work. Also, there is no “destination”…we are all on a “journey”, stopping at various points in our career to live, learn, and play, then keep it moving to the next. But have a plan, save for a rainy day, and be grateful every step of the way.

What’s on tap for you and the band next?

I’m hoping to get us on a few Festivals in the coming year, always playing at The Cutting Room in New York City. Already planning and writing a new record. To keep up on what’s happening, please sign up on the band’s mailing list at ALSO please give me a follow on Instagram @patpdrummer

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