8. Aaron Sterling (Josh Groban/Jason Mraz)
The Rhythm Best in drums 2018 polls received an astonishing 100,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the drummers and gear that have excelled in 2018. Here, we present the best studio session drummers of 2018. First up we have Aaron Sterling...
2018 highlight: Sterling is one of those session guys you may not be too familiar with, but you've definitely heard his drumming on the radio. This year alone, he's played drums on new music by Josh Groban, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Avril Lavigne and Gavin James – and every last track sounds sublime. If you want to see more of Aaron's drumming we highly recommend you follow his Instagram for some great lessons in sound and simplicity.
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7. Josh Freese (Dwarves/Steve Perry)
2018 highlight: While he has spent a lot of time on the road with Sting this year, we still love Josh's studio playing just as much, particularly when he heads into heavier territory. Over the last 12 months, Mr Freese has played on fantastic music by Nick Oliveri, The Dwarves and Steve Perry, proving that he can still rock with the best of them.
6. Abe Laboriel Jr (Paul McCartney)
2018 highlight: Abe normally fares well in our best live session drummer category for his touring work with Paul McCartney, but this year we wanted to remind you that he's a cracking studio drummer too. In 2018 he entered the studio with Macca to play drums on fantastic new album Egypt Station, and laid down dream takes. Check out the stomping Come On To Me and poignant People Want Peace for proof.
5. Anton Fig (Joe Bonamassa)
2018 highlight: Anton set the dial to 'rock' for 2018. Not only did he contribute to Kiss axeman Ace Frehley's Spaceman album, but he also laid down the big beats on Joe Bonamassa's Redemption album, kicking things off with his stunning interpretation of John Bonham's Rock and Roll groove. What's more, Fig also found time to play drums on the stonking Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart album, Black Coffee.
4. Matt Chamberlain (Josh Groban/A Perfect Circle)
2018 highlight: Chamberlain's work was as eclectic as it comes this year. One minute he's recording pop perfection for artists including Josh Groban and Niall Horan, the next he's laying down raw, pensive beats for alt-rock supergroup A Perfect Circle. As all the hardest-working session drummers can attest, diversity is key, and Matt Chamberlain is a prime example of that.
3. Steve Gadd (Paul Simon)
2018 highlight: Steve Gadd might not spend as much time in studios as he used to, but when he does it's usually at the request of a major player in the music world. Case in point, one of Steve's finest recorded performances this year was Paul Simon's 14th album In The Blue Light. Every last beat on the album is a lesson in taste and restraint from Gadd, from the stripped back shuffle of One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor, to the jazz shimmer of How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns.
2. Vinnie Colaiuta (Christina Aguilera/Steve Perry)
2018 highlight: Vinnie splits his time between studio and stage these days, but that didn't stop him getting stuck into some weighty sessions this year. Christina Aguilera and Steve Perry both benefitted from Vinnie's studio touch, but our favourite Colaiuta cut of 2018 was the madcap Superheroes album from Randy Waldman. Listening to Vinnie Colaiuta's jazz take on the Mighty Mouse and Six Million Dollar Man theme songs is one of the coolest things we've heard all year.
Winner: Ash Soan (Cher/Mamma Mia 2)
2018 highlight: He's done it again! Ash's studio CV continues to impress, helping him retain the top spot in this hotly-contested category. When he's not posting amazing grooves from his Windmill Studio on Instagram, Ash records drums for a huge gamut of artists and shows. This year alone he's played on tracks for the Mamma Mia 2 and Mission Impossible: Fallout soundtracks, incidental music for Doctor Who and on albums for artists as diverse as Chris Difford and Andreas Gabalier. Amongst all that he still found time to play drums on The Voice, tour with Del Amitri and perform a superlative set at the 2018 London Drum Show.