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Buddy Rich: Keep the Customer Satisfied

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Traps the Drum Wonder stayed true to this album title.

The recent reissue of Pacific Jazz's Keep the Customer Satisfied collects Buddy Rich and his big band's three-night stint at Las Vegas' Tropicana Hotel in 1970.

Six of the 13 tracks didn't make the album the first time around, but now they've been polished off to give listeners an added bonus of the band's chops.

Rich always demanded 110 percent of his musicians, and it shows immensely on this album.

Right from the moment the laser hits the disc with Paul Simon's blues-laced "Keep the Customer Satisfied," you know this band means business.

The title song features a multitude of solos, including a dueling saxophone exchange from Richie Cole and Jimmy Mosher. Drummers especially will form grins when Rich takes the spotlight.

The album splits between more traditional jazz and songs that would have been "modern" in 1970, including a medley of songs from the movie "Midnight Cowboy" that spans genres of rock ballad and funk. The medley had been recorded in a Los Angeles studio, not during the Las Vegas set.

But even with the pop-rock tunes, Rich still has a soft spot for straight-ahead jazz, and it shows on Don Menza's aptly titled "Groovin' Hard." Rich throws in some snare drum work to accent the band along the way.

On "Winning the West," Rich displays his amazing snare-to-tom combinations at full volume, then becomes softer with the snares turned off while bassist Rick Laird keeps time.

The unreleased tracks swing a bit more; the first is the venerable classic "Body and Soul," with a lush, flowing solo from tenor saxophonist Pat LaBarbara.

The band then kicks it up a notch with Mike Hughes' "Happy Time," which has LaBarbara changing moods with a blistering solo up and down the scales.

Keep the Customer Satisfied ends appropriately with Rich showing off his drumming prowess on Ted Pease's medium-fast "Cornerstone."

This big band had no qualms mixing contemporary pop tunes with swing standards. Rich could give both musical fans what they came to hear. The result is nothing short of phenomenal.

Track Listing: Keep the Customer Satisfied, Long Day's Journey, Midnight Cowboy Medley, Celebration, Groovin' Hard, The Juicer is Wild, Winning the West, Body and Soul, Happy Time, The Nitty Gritty, Straight and Narrow, Groovin' Hard (alternate take), Cornerstone

Personnel: Joe Giorgiani, John Madrid, Mike Price, George Zonce, trumpet; Rick Stepton, Tony Lada, trombone; Larry Fisher, bass trombone; Jimmy Mosher, Richie Cole, flute, alto sax; Pat LaBarbara, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute; Don Englert, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute; Bob Suchoski, baritone sax; Mickey McClain, piano, organ; Rick Laird, electric bass; Buddy Rich, drums

| Record Label: Capitol Records | Style: Big Band


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