Buddy Rich: The Lost Tapes

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Buddy Rich and His Band
The Lost Tapes
Lightyear Entertainment

From the ashes of a 1990 fire that almost destroyed a piece of jazz music history, Buddy Rich and his band come alive in a fully restored made for home video production of a 1985 concert formerly known as the "West Side Story-Set" and now available on DVD as The Lost Tapes. This concert turned out to be the last concert recorded on film before his death in 1987 at the young age of 67. Gone too soon but not forgotten, the greatness that was Buddy Rich is captured for the last time on The Lost Tapes.

Whether on sticks or the brushes, his prowess on the drums is outstanding and immmediately evident on "West Side Story (Overture and Medley)." At one point close to the finale, the camera pulls back from a close-up of Rich during a blazing solo and in a telling moment, the camera pans back to find the members of the band looking back and up at the man on the elevated stage by himself, as if paying homage to "Mr. Drums" for what they never could have imagined would be the last time.

The musical selection will please anyone who loves the big band sound. The band plays such tunes as Bob Florence's "Willowcrest," Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight," Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail," and of course, the famous Leonard Bernstein "West Side Story." As for the band, Buddy Rich had a way of finding and developing talented musicians. There's the late tenor saxophonist Steve Marcus, a key member of the band who plays a prominent role in this concert with some exceptional solos. On the piano you'll see a young Bill Cunliffe playing several runs of his own, especially on "Tee Bag," which he also arranged. The music and the band is superb, delivering a performance deserving of the Rich legend.

Personnel: Buddy Rich: drums, leader; Steve Marcus: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Mark Pinto, Bob Bowlby: alto saxophone; Brian Sjoerdinga: tenor saxophone, flute; Jay Craig: baritone saxophone; Scott Bliege, Mike Davis: trombone; James Martin: bass trombone; Paul Phillips, Eric Miyashiro, Michael Lewis, Joe Kaminski: trumpet; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Dave Carpenter: electric bass.

Tracks: Mexicali Nose; Willowcrest; 'Round Midnight; Cotton Tail; New Blues; Tee Bag; The Red Snapper; West Side Story (Overture and Medley).

Program Notes: Directed by Scott Ross; approximate running time 115 minutes.

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