404

Buddy Rich: The Monster

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Buddy Rich: The Monster 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 the fact that over half of its duration is taken up by the leader thrashing away in a manner that, for all of its undoubted power, makes for tiresome listening. As the likes of Harry "Sweets Edison on trumpet and alto sax man Willie Smith thus miss out in the extended solo stakes, it also amounts to an exercise in frustration.

The title track, recorded in May of 1956, lives up to its title in terms, once again, of how much of its duration is given over to solo drumming. After Ben Webster, amongst others, has given the listener an object lesson in how to solo economically, just under five of its eleven minutes are given over to Rich setting about his hapless kit like a man for whom harboring a grudge seems like second nature.

Rich manages to rein himself in a little on the quintet sides that make up over half of this set, although on "The Yellow Rose of Brooklyn," the flower of the title, presumably a delicate thing, stands no chance of survival in the midst of another drum onslaught. "Willow Weep for Me" is, however, turned into something unassumingly wondrous by a group that includes Edison again and Barney Kessel on guitar, and Rich proves he could do subtlety in a way that makes his lack of restraint elsewhere only more frustrating.

"You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me" is imbued with a similar feel, and only the hardest of hearts couldn't be won over by Edison's theme statement. It's a model of economy that allows the melody to sing and which the leader complements in a manner that could almost be the work of a different drummer by comparison with his previous excesses.

This isn't a set likely to change the frame of reference for any debate about Rich's abilities. Those for whom he was a monster in the best sense have as much ammunition here as those for whom he was a monster in the worst.

Track Listing: Sweets Opus No. 1; Strike It Rich; Sportin' Life (AKA Sweetie Pie); The Monster; Sunday; The Yellow Rose Of Brooklyn; Willow Weep For Me; Easy Does It; All Sweets; Nice Work If You Can Get; Barney's Bugle; Now's The Time; You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me.

Personnel: Harry

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: FiveFour | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Overseas V CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Salão Brazil CD/LP/Track Review Salão Brazil
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Overseas V CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Troy Collins
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Behind The Mist CD/LP/Track Review Behind The Mist
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Sedimental You CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio" CD/LP/Track Review One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Genesis" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "WANDERlust" CD/LP/Track Review WANDERlust
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!