Jazz lovers, while always attuned to the possibility of their cherished art form entering the media mainstream, are also equally filled with dread when it occasionally does happen. Inevitably we end up consoling ourselves with a revived career (Dexter Gordon--Bird) or an outstanding performance (James Carter, et al.--Kansas City) in lieu of an actual believable plot or an authentic resemblance to any known jazz milieu. In Whiplash, we have both deficiencies illustrated. Seriously, are there any real life ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more