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DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Whiplash

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Whiplash Directed by Damien Chazelle Sony Pictures Classics 2014 Whiplash is director Damien Chazelle's portrait of an aspiring jazz drummer who falls prey to an overbearing conservatory teacher. Although the film has attracted well-earned praise for its acting and editing, this review sets technical flourish aside and approaches Whiplash not as a film, per se, but as a failed musical exercise--a didactic riff, if you will, on the power of “greatness" and the suffering born of its realization. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is the 19-year-old protagonist, whose single stroke roll opens the film's ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Buddy Rich: The Beat Goes On

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Was Buddy Rich really “the world's greatest drummer"? The answer to that speculative question is debatable, of course, and opinions may vary, as they no doubt do on what kind of a person (or persons) he was when not weaving his particular brand of magic behind a drum kit. Buddy's remarkable talents as a drummer and his ambivalent and often volatile nature were the twin focus June 1 of a spectacular Buddy Rich alumni reunion and concert at the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque. The idea for the reunion was first broached to trumpeter Bobby Shew, an Albuquerque ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Buddy Rich: In a Zone of His Own

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One of the channels that came with my Dish Network package is Classic Arts Showcase, which is a treasure trove of film clips documenting classical, ballet, folk, pop and other forms of music that one is unlikely to see anywhere else (although some footage is presumably available on YouTube, which more and more seems to encompass almost everything musical and beyond). When there is nothing else of interest to watch (which, alas, is much of the time), I sometimes press the remote control buttons for Classic Arts and can usually count on seeing something that is at least historic and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Buddy Rich & His Buddies: Playtime

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Buddy Rich & His BuddiesPlaytimeFresh Sound2012 More than 25 years after his death, the controversy about master drummer Buddy Rich rages on. Was he nothing more than an incredible drum technician of little sensitivity or flexibility? Or was he, as many history books contend, truly “the world's greatest drummer"?While it is ultimately up to the listener to decide, the record, literally and figuratively, speaks for itself. Though known as the fiery driver of big bands, the truth is that Rich played exquisitely, for decades, in small group combinations. These combinations ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Buddy Rich: Live in Miami with Flip Phillips

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Rich's work was arguably one dimensional and these two live dates, captured for the ages from 1954 and 1957, set out a case in favor of that argument as persuasive as any. Rich, as was his vocation, is all over his drums on everything here, his extrovert nature in harness to a musical sensibility seemingly too precise to tolerate any way other than his own.

It's all there in abundance on the opening “Lover, Come Back to Me," which for all intents and purposes is taken by two bands of which Rich himself is one. Tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Buddy Rich: The Monster

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The ambiguity in the title of this one really nails it. Buddy Rich was never a man to let subtlety or restraint get in the way of his ego, and in so doing he reduced the art of jazz drumming to a matter of overbearing machismo and overkill. In short, any beat that Rich played usually stayed played in the way that a murder victim stays dead.

On this collection of sides from the mid-1950s that much is already in evidence. Of the six minutes of “Strike It Rich," the aptness of the title is made only too apparent in ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich: Live In '78

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Buddy Rich Live In '78 Jazz Icons 2006

This concert should definitely prove a winner for listeners who prefer the straight-ahead, swinging, Count Basie-indebted Buddy Rich ensembles of the mid-to-late 1970s to the somewhat rock-heavy sonic barrage of the band assembled by the legendary drummer and bandleader at the close of the 1960s. Even though the video catches the band just after the departure of some key Rich players like trumpeter Dave Stahl and pianist Barry Kiener, it still features Rich's right-hand man, tenor saxophonist Steve Marcus, along with a tight-knit ensemble of players ...



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