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Drummer Buddy Rich had that swagger, that cocksure grin; and he put together bands big and small that swung hard and clean, thanks in large part to tight arrangements and his work on the skins. Drummer Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies are very much in that mode; and on Very Live at Ronnie Scott's, Smith and his bandmates relive some of Buddy's finest moments at a London club where the legendary drummer recorded one of his finest live performances.
In 1980, Buddy Rich recorded Buddy Live at Ronnie's, one of his orchestra's greatest records. In 2002, drummer Steve Smith, backing a quintet that included two former Buddy Rich sax men, altoist Andy Fusco and tenor and soprano man Steve Marcus, sets up shop at the same Ronnie's, and swings like Buddy and the guys.
The set opens with one of Rich's staples, Cole Porter's "Love for Sale." It's as swinging, dynamic, and melodic as a song can get – and the quintet drives it hard, never looking back, for the rest of the night.
Featured here also are Horace Silver's "Nutville," "Big Man Blues," by Walt Weikopf (another Buddy Rich Band Orchestra alum), and "Bopformation," written by the quintet's pianist, Mark Soskin. Bright arrangements, some crisp Buddy-esque soloing, great sax harmonies and solo slots, and a couple of post bop bonus tracks to round out the set: John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" and Sonny Rollins' "Airegin."
This is a concert reproduced on disc with fidelity – the songs were recorded and sequenced in order, as they were played, and it sounds like a great, brightly swinging night of jazz, a la Buddy himself.