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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Buddy Rich: Man From Planet Jazz

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Nobody's really clamoring for big band recordings from 1980 these days, and it's probably the case that no one was back then, either. But it's also true that drummer Buddy Rich never really gave a damn what anybody thought about what he did, which is what makes this live set from Ronnie Scott's worth a listen.

Many big bands went astray by incorporating modern sounds into their arsenal out of economic necessity. Rich is no different; here he brings the funk with fast paced soul rhythms, popping electric bass, and judicious use of the wah-wah pedal on the ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich and his Band: The Lost Tapes

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Buddy Rich The Lost Tapes Light Year Entertainment 2005

The hyperbole about Buddy Rich can get pretty deep. He's commonly referred to as the best drummer ever. This is much like granting Sinatra King of Crooners status - for many this brash supremism is based on a standard of style and sensibility we don't find so pretty. It's like saying the steamroller is the greatest wheeled vehicle of all time. That's true maybe, if what you value most is the ability to flatten things. Buddy Rich was a steamroller and is reputed to have ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich: The Lost Tapes

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Buddy Rich and His Band The Lost Tapes Lightyear Entertainment 2005

In April 1985 -- two years before his untimely passing -- Buddy Rich and his band recorded a concert at One Pass Productions' King Street Studio in San Francisco using state-of-the-art equipment designed to capture the band “in a typically 'live' . . . setting with natural acoustic balances and three-dimensional imaging. The concert, the last one Buddy ever recorded for video release, was divided into two nearly hour-long programs, the “Channel One set and the “West Side Story set. “Channel ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich: The Lost Tapes

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Buddy Rich and His Band The Lost Tapes Lightyear Entertainment 2005

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, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Buddy Rich Band: No Funny Hats

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Musically, as he seemed to be in life, Buddy Rich was practically bulletproof. For that reason, Lightyear's recent release of this 1978 performance is really beyond criticism, and for Rich fans, a newly issued live recording is cause for celebration. Regardless, this set is as representative of the power and authority of the drummer and his band in prime form as anything else in his catalog. The level of performance Rich demanded of his bands and himself is legendary, so it's expected that the performances captured here would be impossibly strong, and they most certainly are, yet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sammy Davis Jr./Buddy Rich: The Sounds of '66

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Sammy Davis Jr. opens these after-hours Las Vegas recording sessions, remarking that even at this hour the town is still swinging. He tells listeners that any noises from the audiences are real, not canned. From this simple setup, this release captures live the excitement these two musical dynamos generated in an era, and in a town, when music was made at all hours, night and day. In fine form, Davis, as talented a performer as he was enigmatic a personality, projects the opening up-tempo “Come Back to Me with brass and bravado, the Buddy Rich Orchestra accompanying him ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich At the Top

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Rescued from obscurity by Hudson Music, At the Top was a one-hour '73 performance of Buddy Rich and the Buddy Rich Big Band originally broadcast on Public Television in the United States. While the audio quality is a touch muddy, symptomatic of the recording capabilities for television at the time, it serves as an outstanding document of Rich as bandleader, arranger and performer. Bold and brash, never short on ego, Rich led his big band like an army troop and the result was an ensemble where not a note was missed, not a beat dropped.

On a programme that includes ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Buddy Rich Live at the 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival

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When one thinks of drummer Buddy Rich what comes to mind, first and foremost, are impressions of a brash personality and an even more outgoing drumming style. And while it is true that the majority of Rich's output with his various big bands falls in the camp of extroversion with bold, bright virtuoso playing, equally impressive was the fact that, without the ability to read or notate music, he was able to commit complex arrangements to memory. Live at the 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival is a welcome DVD issue of L'Equipe Spector's recording for television, and proves that even at ...



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