I am a bit of a drum snob in that I don’t know a piece of music that could not be improved with some percussion. Classical music included! As a drummer, however, I am surprisingly not a fan of drum solo’s. There is one exception…Buddy Rich.
He had the most wicked left hand that I have ever seen. I’ve watched his contemporaries as well as some of today’s greats and I still can’t find an equal. He did more with 4 skins than some guys do with 12. He played a single bass, but because he was so fast on his 2 floor toms it often sounded like a double kick.
Rich had a style that kept me, and every other serious drummer, glued to the screen in an attempt to dissect his technique. And as you can see from these two videos, it was quite difficult because he was so fast that film could barely keep up.
The first video starts as a bit of comedy with Jerry Lewis and leads into a very early solo that defined his incredible style.
This second video cuts in on the solo from his West Side Story Medley. There is a spot at about 1:38 where he’s playing the hi-hat with his right hand and both controlling the cymbals and striking them with the left hand. If you’re not a drummer you have probably never seen anything like it.
There are lots of great Buddy Rich tie-ins but the three MP3 Albums that I’ve selected are excellent introductions to Buddy Rich as well pure Big Band/Jazz/Swing classics.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy includes Channel One Suite, a favorite of solo enthusiasts but a great jazz/band classic as well.
Big Swing Face is also classic Buddy. If you just wanted a jazz/big band album, this is the one you should have in your collection.
The Best Of Buddy Rich/The Pacific Jazz Years contains West Side Story Medley, considered the quintessential Buddy Rich tune. If you want unadulterated Buddy Rich, get this one.
Buddy Rich: Up Close is the DVD I wanted as a kid. It includes close up and varied angles so you can get a better look at his drumming genius. I have included a link to the DVD below, but Buddy Rich: Up Close is also available for digital purchase or rent at Amazon.com.
Buddy Rich Live At The 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival is just that, a great concert just a few years before he passed. Now available only through resellers. A rare treasure.
And something very special, Mel Torme’s biography of Buddy Rich called Traps – The Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich. Mel was a great artist in his own right, but here he writes about “Traps” in a way that could only be accomplished by a life-long friend.
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