BIG FISH AUDIO Tower of Funk by David Garibaldi

Tower of Power may very well be the textbook purveyor of funk, and David Garibaldi provides the heartbeat for the band's energetic and propulsive style. Tower of Funk by David Garibaldi ($99.95) from Big Fish Audio offers Garibaldi's unique drumming in a CD-ROM of 16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV files with an accompanying audio CD.

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BigFish Audio's Tower of Funk by David Garibaldi sample library ablycaptures the sound and style of the drummer best known for his workwith Tower of Power. Garibaldi's grooves and fills are useful in manystyles of music.

Tower of Power may very well be the textbook purveyor of funk, andDavid Garibaldi provides the heartbeat for the band's energetic andpropulsive style. Tower of Funk by David Garibaldi ($99.95) fromBig Fish Audio offers Garibaldi's unique drumming in a CD-ROM of16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV files with an accompanying audio CD.

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The files reside in folders sorted according to tempo, ranging froma languid 66 to a brisk 136 bpm. A subfolder in each folder containsanywhere from 4 to 11 groove variations and a separate subfolder offills. If your sequencer supports Acid-formatted WAV files, you have amodicum of leeway in adapting the file tempos to taste. You also get anassortment of WAV-format individual instrument hits, should you wish touse a sampler and create your own grooves. I tested the tracks in Markof the Unicorn's Digital Performer 4.01.

The booklet lists all of Garibaldi's hardware, which includes threeYamaha signature series snares: the David Garibaldi, Peter Erskine, andManu Katché models. Some files refer to an undocumented fourthsnare; a query to Big Fish Audio revealed that the snare in question isa muted version of the Erskine snare.

Although folders are sorted by tempo, some folders contain more thanone group of files — sometimes with an unrelated groove, andother times with different hardware. Unfortunately, the file namesdon't help to distinguish between the grooves unless the hardware isdifferent; that can be confusing when loading files into your digitalaudio workstation, especially if you are importing them into a portabledigital studio with a less informative display and no auditioningcapabilities. It would have been more convenient to store them inseparate folders.

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I have always been a fan of Garibaldi's style, particularly withinthe context of Tower of Power. In my experience, the band's forte is anup-tempo, busy style that eschews swing in favor of an incrediblydriving, almost rushed-sounding 16th-note pulse. However, Garibaldi'splaying extends well beyond the busy, propulsive grooves sorepresentative of that band, so don't paint yourself into a stylisticcorner. I particularly like the way the grooves in tracks 1 and 2evolve from simple, down-tempo timekeeping chores to complex half-timefeels. Track 24 dishes up a subtle, loping 88 bpm feel, with patternsmoving from sidestick to snare.

The 130 bpm folder containing track 89's grooves offers relativelystraight-ahead rock patterns, at least until you add the syncopatedperformances from track 90. These tracks offer accompaniment from thecowbell and ride cymbal while the snare parts almost obstinately avoidbeats two and four. You could take almost any pattern and simply loopit; however, doing that would be a shame, because variations dish upsyncopated surprises that can impart more of a live feel than typicaldrummer themes and variations. It feels like you're working with a veryclever drummer who encourages you to play more interactively.

I tested the Acid formatting by adjusting the files to differenttempos within a range of 5 to 10 bpm. I got no audible artifacts, butsome performances sounded a bit too rushed and simply did not fare wellat faster tempos. That is not the fault of the formatting or thedrummer; the timing variations that constitute a pocket at one tempomay not always work well at another.

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Tower of Funk is not without a few dings, however. I found acouple of file-naming inconsistencies. For instance, 07-Groove 094BPM-SN1.wav should have had an R designator appended to it (indicatingthat the ride cymbal was in use on that track); conversely, 09-Groove094 BPM-SN1-R.wav has no ride cymbal.

The recordings are rather dry, and because the grooves are stereofiles, adding ambience to instruments individually poses a problem. Iwould have appreciated a few more snare samples at different dynamiclevels; as it is, there is only one individual-hit sample for eachsnare.

Still, Tower of Funk presents a unique, world-class drummerwith an incredible pocket. Garibaldi's grooves are also useful for pop,rock, fusion, and other styles. Many of the files made me wish for acompanion collection of Rocco Prestia bass lines. For live feel andcreative drumming, Tower of Funk is hard to beat.

Big Fish Audio
tel. (800) 717-FISH or (818) 768-6115