Posts Tagged ‘BUDDY RICH’


Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Major, major improvements and renovations have come to the site, courtesy of our resident, genius of a webmaster, Terry McKyton. Improvement highlights include a wider design to match the standard users’ screen, a cleaner and less cluttered design, better layout of DVDs and CDs that will allow for track lists and a download/preview area, and banners that will point to new products on the site, holiday specials, etc.

Yes, I did mention “downloads,” and that feature will be instituted shortly. We are going to start with three of our most popular CDs, “Gene Krupa: The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa Quartet at JATP: 1955,” and the famed “Benny Goodman/Gene Krupa Performance Recordings: 1937-1938.” Rest assured that the download process will be easy to use (there will even be short previews of songs that will help you to decide whether or not to buy) and at more-than-reasonable prices. If the response to this is positive, as it should be, we will be adding more CDs available for download each week.

One of the most obvious changes to the site in terms of visuals is the absence of the Google ads. Terry and I agree that, for whatever the minimal dollar value to, the ads were not attractive . They didn’t add much in terms of information, and they just took away from what we try to do on the site.

We have been rushing to come up with a real “special” in time for the holiday season, and along with the gift certificate, we think we have it. This is a boxed set of four CDs, chosen by yours truly–“The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa: 1943,” “Rare and Live: 1941-1942,” and “Steve Allen Tonight Shows 1954 and 1955”–plus a copy of the increasingly rare book, “World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin’ Man.” This $75 value is yours, in a gift box with free shipping worldwide, for $69.95. Ho, ho, and another ho.

I have not mentioned the name of Buddy Rich in this space for some time. However, if the name of our site is “JazzLegends,” then the world’s greatest drummer cannot be ignored. I want to go on record as saying that Buddy’s daughter, Cathy, continues to be tirelessly devoted to perpetuating all that was and is good about Buddy. Most of you have heard about the “Buddy Rich Drum Company,” which has been garnering nice notices in and out of the industry and is a part of some really neat promotions, including one in Modern Drummer’s special publication, Drum Gods, in the trades. For more information on these fine drums, visit There is also a new Buddy CD out, culled from the famed, mid-1970s live tapes recorded by bandsman Alan Gauvin, with Buddy’s blessings. The CD is entitled “Time Out,” and it’s one of the best Buddy Rich recordings, from any decade, to be released in years. One listen to any cut at all will make us all realize why he was and is Buddy Rich, and why there will never, ever, ever be another. Products like these are not easy to get out to the marketplace, whether one is related to Buddy Rich or not. Cathy Rich deserves recognition and our thanks for getting these fabulous items out there properly.

In terms of other gift items, don’t forget the Bopworks, Gene Krupa model drum sticks, or the great new DVD from Hudson Music, “Classic Rock Drum Solos.” Set aside the labels of jazz and rock for a moment. This DVD is for drum fans, no matter what the style of music. I guarantee that you will be astounded by the technical virtuosity of Carl Palmer. Michael Shrieve, host Carmine Appice, Clive Bunker, Ginger Baker, Steve Smith, Cozy Powell, Neil Peart and various others. Additionally, there is an entire section devoted to the origin of rock solo drumming that features Krupa (with Carmine Appice doing a great impression of him), Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson. the Lionel Hampton band, Bill Haley’s Ralph Jones, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, and the only film in existence of the first rock drum star, Sandy “Let There Be Drums” Nelson. We will probably be making this available on our site shortly, but right now, log on to for further information.

Joy Adams and I are in Naples, Florida, until the early spring, enjoying the kids and the grand kids. As mentioned in this site several times over the years, the music scene is fabulous in Naples, and we are playing and singing–individually and collectively–at least twice a week. After hearing the new Buddy CD, I may have to cut it down to once a week!

God bless, keep swingin’, and all good wishes for the holiday and beyond,

Bruce Klauber November, 2007.


Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Those of us who are concerned about such things continue to be confused and disappointed about what the Gibson guitar company has done to the name of Slingerland and to the Slingerland line. To think that the drums– endorsed by Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and dozens of other drum stars through the years–has virtually disappeared, is simply a disgrace. The situation is beyond understanding, especially given the news that Yamaha is bringing out a Rogers drum line, even though the drums are nothing like the original or classic Rogers line. What counts in that case is the name.

A number of us– including Arthor Von Blomberg, the mastermind behind the upcoming 100th birthday celebration for Gene and the future Broadway musical play based on Gene’s life and music–have contacted Gibson about buying the Slingerland name. Our point is that Gibson is doing nothing with it and at the very least, our consortium would keep the name alive. After contacting the Gibson offices in the United States, Europe, Asia, Japan and China about this, we have not heard word one about any of this, which is hardly unexpected. There is no information on whether any Slingerland inventory exists, and Slingerland drums are not offered in any national catalog or the Modern Drummer Drum Buyer’s Guide.

Slingerland might not have been the General Motors of the drum industry, but they were among the “big four” of drum manufacturers, with the other three being Gretsch, Ludwig and Rogers. All but Slingerland are still with us, and that is a disgrace to the industry and to America.

The big question, and feel free to address this in the forum, is: “If Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich were alive today, what brand of drums would they be playing?”

From what little I know, I am pretty sure that these giants would have played drums made in America, and I’m pretty sure the brand would have been Drum Workshop, a.k.a. DW. Indeed, DW did offer a Buddy kit at one time.,

The last time I spoke to anyone within the company, I was told that they cannot manufacture their fine product quickly enough to supply retailers and players. Their story, indeed, is a singular one. Herewith is some background info, courtesy of DW founder Don Lombardi and the DW web site:

Their slogan is, “The Drummer’s Choice® ” and Lombardi maintains that it’s more than a slogan, “it’s a fact.” Shades of Buddy Rich!

“It’s remarkable that in our 31st year, the excitement level of coming to work is every bit as much now as when we started,” he says.

It all began in 1972 when Don, at age 26, opened a small teaching studio in Santa Monica, Calif. He called the studio Drum Workshop, offering both private lessons and monthly workshops.

“My fascination with drums started at 12 with a neighborhood teacher at a local music store,” Don recalls. “Over the years, I had such great experiences with renowned teachers that as my love for playing drums grew, so did my love for learning and teaching about drums. The day I got my driver’s license, I started driving to teach at a local music store where I had taken lessons.”

Seeing an ad for Drum Workshop in the Yellow Pages, John Good, now DW’s Vice President, signed up for lessons at age 17 to improve his drumming and reverse what he refers to as “bad drumming habits.”

“After three months of lessons, Don approached me and said, ‘You know, I’ve had lots of successful students. I don’t think you’re going to be one of them’,” John says laughing. “So I said, ‘Great…now what are we going to do?’”

The two ultimately hooked up to market the first DW product: Don’s new design for a height-adjustable trap-case seat. Selling about a dozen seats a month, John quit his day job and went to work full-time for Don.

When DW received a purchase order for 100 seats from Camco Drum Company, Don and John realized that they had an innovative product that would sell. Thirty years later, DW is now offering a new version of the trap-case adjustable seat, made out of a lighter weight material, called the 6100 Adjustable Trap-Case Seat.

However, when DW created the original trap case seat, they had the capacity and personnel to create only a dozen seats a month, not 100. Don was still teaching and playing a nightly gig while John built the products. Shortly thereafter, Camco Drum Company owner Tom Beckman approached Don in 1977 with an offer to sell him Camco’s machinery, dies and molds, everything it took to make Camco drums and hardware-everything except the Camco name itself. This gave Don the opportunity to expand his capacity for creating the seats and to expand his product line.

At that point, Don made the decision to accept the offer and change the direction of Drum Workshop from teaching and selling to manufacturing.

(For those who do not remember, the Camco outfit offered a fine and most individual looking line of drums–their round lugs, still a DW design feature today–really made them stand out. Camco was never as big as the “big four,” but they did have some endorsers, including the drummer of The Beach Boys.)

“The idea of failing never really occurred to me,” Don remarks. “Based on our mini-success with the seat, we had learned that if we could offer drummers products that would improve their drumming, we could be successful. Of course, having a desire to go into manufacturing and having the money to do so are two different things.”

Borrowing most of the money from his parents and some from outside investors, Don purchased Camco’s tooling and reintroduced the Camco 5000 nylon strap bass drum pedal under the DW name. The pedal was refined to improve consistency, quietness, smoothness and adjustability of its mechanical operation. As the pedal was rapidly becoming “the drummer’s choice,” Don continued to search for ways to further improve it.

The rest is history. The ever-expanding line of DW drums, kits and hardware is the drum industry standard. Specifically, with their “Classics Series,” “Jazz Series” and 6000 Series of ultra-light stands, DW has successfully brought a legacy of percussion tradition to the year 2007. Call them “traditionally innovative,” if you will, or as they deservedly say, “The Drummer’s Choice.”

Would Gene and Buddy be DW artists? You bet.

I urge each and every visitor from around the world to visit DW on the web at

We look forward, at some time in the not-too-distant future, to contact the fine DW folks about becoming involved with, as well as with the Gene Krupa upcoming 100th Birthday celebration and subsequent show based on Gene’s life and music.

It’s not only because I have a vested interest in these titles, but two, brand new DVD projects from Hudson Music constitute essential viewing and study. “The Art of Playing with Brushes,” presented by Adam Nussbaum and Steve Smith, presents the drum and brush masters–Billy Hart, Eddie Locke, Joe Morello, Charli Persip and Ben Riley–in performance and in instructional segments. This incredible, three -DVD set is, as the copy accurately says, “an educational and inspirational resource that will never go out of date and is certainly one that belongs in every drummer’s library.” visitors will also enjoy the vintage clips by the likes of Kenny Clarke, Denzil Best and many more.

And finally, “Classic Rock Drum Solos” is here. Despite the fact that helping to write and produce this incredible DVD took a year off my life–these vintage rock drummers were a handfull–the result is incredible. JazzLegends visitors and guests, though not rock-oriented, will love the clips by Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Billy Haley’s Ralph Jones, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, host Carmine Appice, and the many clips where the influence of Buddy and Gene are quite obvious. For ordering info, log on to

Finally, our Krupa drumsticks are getting great reviews and seem to be very much in demand. For ordering info, log on to

Keep swingin’

Bruce Klauber


Sunday, June 4th, 2006

There was a marvelous and touching tribute held in honor of Buddy Rich’s featured tenor saxophonist of 12 years, the late Steve Marcus, this past Sunday at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York city. Performers included Steve Smith’s “Buddy’s Buddies,” featuring Andy Fusco and Walt Weiskopf replacing Marcus on saxophones; bassist Baron Brown and pianist Joel Weiskopf. The Buddy Rich Alumni Big Band, kicked unbelievably by Smith, would have made Buddy proud. Guitarist Larry Coryell, who pioneered with Marcus what later became known as “jazz-rock,” spoke beautifully and played “Our Love is Here to Stay” from the heart. A terrific reception followed, at New York’s famed P.J. Clark’s, and on hand were some notable guests, including members of the Marcus family, the legendary Freddie Gruber and Stanley Kaye, Rob Wallis of Hudson Music, yours truly, and jazz singer Joy Adams. What a night! 

Two Krupa discoveries will be featured on the JazzLegends web site shortly. Actually, one already is, and it’s a fascinating document. This comes to us courtesy of Chuck Slate and Jazzology Records’ George Buck, and it’s a reunion of the Chicagoans, recorded in 1969 at a Holiday Inn in Connecticut. I believe that this December 5, 1969 concert may have been held shortly after Gene decided to come out of retirement. A year or two after this show, Gene explained to another New England audience that he tried to do too much too soon after laying off for almost two years, and that it “really showed.” In this wonderful concert, Gene is really, really swinging, but something happens in the midst of “I Found a New Baby.” I believe that maintaining that quick tempo for more than a little length of time may have been too much for Gene then. You decide after you hear what happens. 

Expected here shortly is something that most of us knew existed, but few of us ever heard. This is another Krupa appearance on “The Steve Allen Show,” circa 1955, yet another appearance made in conjunction with “The Benny Goodman Story.” There are a number of tunes included in this segment, which features Gene and Goodman clone Sol Yaged (who tutored Allen on the clarinet so that he could more accurately portray Goodman in the movie), includes numbers like “Tom Tom Workout.” I can’t wait to hear this myself. 

Alfred Publishing Company, the outfit behind the new Krupa pictorial book, is seriously considering the “commercial” release of a number of legendary titles that we’ve been putting out “semi-privately” for years, such as “Chicago and All That Jazz,” a couple of the Timex shows, etc. These will not only be remastered in terms of audio and video, but will come with detailed booklets and be offered for sale at really bargain prices. They are good people at Alfred. 

At Hudson Music, Steve Smith, myself and the boys continue to make inroads with our “Classic Rock and Roll Drum Solos” project. Latest to join up are Danny Seraphine (Chicago) and Carl Palmer (ELP) and posthumously, Cozy Powell. After months of work, we finally have received permission to use footage of Keith Moon. Moon was no soloist, and this clip, in fact, is said to be the only film in existence of Moon soloing. Still, he did personify rock drumming to many, and to do a project like this without him in it just wouldn’t be right. 

My congrats to all of you for making the forum a real exciting place to be. Keep swingin’ and God bless, 

Bruce Klauber

Rich Am I

Friday, May 26th, 2006

This will constitute the final public comments on the unfortunate Buddy Rich matter. Though I have apologized to the involved parties personally and on the Buddy Rich web site, I felt it all together fitting proper to make a statement on the web site. 

I was wrong and I was in error. It’s that simple. Many of you supported me during the terrible year I’ve had in line with my mothers’ terminal illness, and the trauma that I went through during this time clouded my judgment in a number of areas. This was one area, and I cannot tell you how sorry I am. 

Certainly, not everyone is in agreement as to how Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold are handling the release of Buddy Rich material. Most of the Buddy fans, to be sure, would just love to see everything in existence out there on the market. But that’s not how things work. You try it! 

It is important to remember that without Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold, there would be no “Wham,” no “No Funny Hats,” no “At the Top,” no “Montreal Jazz Festival,” no “Lost Tapes,” no Pacific Jazz reissues with previously unreleased material, no “Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship” projects, no “Burnin’ For Buddy,” no “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend” video, no “Buddy’s Buddies” with Steve Smith, and no official Buddy Rich web site. I’ve probably missed a few things here and there, as I’m pretty certain that Cathy and Steve were involved with the recent Verve reissues of “Buddy and Sweets” and “Blues Caravan,” and the superb Mosaic boxed set of wonderful 1950s and 1960s material. 

These items alone constitute a rather large treasure trove of essential material that simply would not be in existence if it were not for Cathy and Steve. 

I would ask all of you who have made negative remarks in line with this hurtful situation to stop. For all of us who continue to appreciate the music of Buddy Rich, it is important to understand that Cathy Rich is the only “conduit,” for lack of a better word, to the man. And therefore it must be nurtured, preserved and appreciated. Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold were not wrong. I was. 

Bruce Klauber


Monday, May 8th, 2006

While there was nothing really great about “the good old days” in the drum world, there were at least four constants one could count on: The names of Ludwig, Gretsch, Rogers and Slingerland. To a lesser extent, there was Camco and Leedy, and in the student market, Kent and Revere. To a fault, these were all-American made drums with superb construction and longevity and each had its own remarkable sound. There was, and thankfully is today, “that great Gretsch sound,” with endorsers like Max Roach, Art Blakey, Mel Lewis and dozens of others. Rogers? Mel Torme’ once remarked that they were “made of cast iron,” and if it was the Buddy or Louis sound one was looking for, Rogers was the brand to get, no matter what the expense. Ludwig, in the jazz sense, always brought to mind the snap of Joe Morello, though that was before Ringo came along and changed Ludwig and the world. Slingerland will forever be identified with Gene Krupa, though they had a stellar roster of dozens of endorsers. With Camco, well, The Beach Boys’ drummer played them, and Leedy seemed to be synonymous with Shelly Mane. Any overseas product that existed back then, and apologies to all involved, was accurately described as “cheap Japanese,” many with a generic or retail store label on them like Stratford or Stewart. Those of us who had sets like that were often laughed at. Tell you what, though. I just got hold of a “cheap Japanese” snare made circa 1963, a Slingerland knock-off complete with a quasi-Zoomatic strainer. This drum sings. But that’s another matter. 

Watching the Independence Day parade on television a few seasons back, I was struck by the incongruity of seeing the marching bands’ bass drums emboldened with logos like Yamaha, Tama and Pearl. This is not a dig at those companies. All of them make fine, fine drums, and that goes for the newer companies like Taye and Peace as well. It is a tribute to all of those firms that they overcame the stigma of the description, “cheap Japanese.” 

It’s also a tribute to some of the newer American companies, like DW, the revitalized Gretsch company, and the many, many “botique-oriented” manufacturers that have made substantial inroads into the percussion marketplace. DW, by the way, has just released their long-awaited “Buddy Rich” kit to market. The DW management was also happy to inform me that they simply cannot keep up with product demand. That’s good news. 

But wither the famed “big four” of yesteryear? 

The stories of the downfall of Leedy and Rogers are well known to those who have read Rob Cook’s superb books on those companies, published by his “Rebeats” publishing company. The tale of Rogers, particularly, remains an absolute disgrace. For a brand name that almost every drummer wanted, at some point, to go down the tubes so quickly and spectacularly is an American business tragedy. 

Likewise with Slingerland, a brand name that had, at one time or another, both Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich as endorsers. Slingerland has tried to come back several times (Gretsch and/or the Gibson Company we believe, now owns the name), but each attempt to bring it back has been misguided and half-hearted. Their ill-conceived attempt to market Krupa and Rich “tribute” kits was a laugh riot. Slingerland counted on outside marketing people who knew absolutely nothing, and if you remember their ads for the kit, they couldn’t even come up with a decent photo of Gene. I was called in at the 11th hour to help, but it was too late. The damage was done. As an example of how disinterested they continue to be today is their refusal to even acknowledge my new book on Krupa, “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend.” The Slingerland name appears on virtually every page either in text or a photo. Is this free advertising for Slingerland? You bet! The company has been approached dozens of times about getting t involved with this book in promotional terms, erhaps as a give away to boost sales of their sets and expand their educational market, but they refuse to even acknowledge e-mails. Do the folks who own and operate Slingerland today want it fail? If so, they’re succeeding. And yes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to sell books. But to be ignored by a company who is presented with an opportunity–and needs any opportunity it can get–is ignorant and appalling. 

It appears that Ludwig continues to do steady business. They’ve added several new lines in the student and pro areas and have brought back the classic Ringo kit, the see-through Vistalites and even a John Bonham “tribute” kit. Their range of endorsers, however, is nothing what it was. The great Ed Shaughnessy and Butch Miles seem to be the only artists popping up in ads lately. Ludwig’s involvement in promotion, clinics, etc., also seems to be a bit limited, although news has come that the Ludwig Company has purchased the famed “Not So Modern Drummer” Magazine, which would put Ludwig back in the publishing business for the first time in decades. 

Still, they’ve missed the boat several times in line with possible promotional opportunities. As one example, Ludwig was approached to become involved with the recently-released DVD, “Lionel Hampton: King of the Vibes.” After all, Hampton used the Musser vibraphone, owned and sold by Ludwig, for most of his seven-decade career. A tie-in, to promote both the Musser line and the DVD, appeared to be just perfect for all involved. Ed Shaughnessy even interceded and tried to get things going. As an example, wouldn’t it have been perfect for Musser to produce a DVD “extra” about Musser’s history and their current line? Ludwig’s answer: “We have no money for such things.” Perhaps they just don’t want to sell vibes, but if that’s the case, why is Ludwig still manufacturing them? 

Drummers today, of every age and style, have more equipment choices than ever before. Once there was A. Zildjian, K. Zildjian or spun brass. Now there are dozens and dozens of cymbal makers. The same goes for sticks, hardware, drums, cases, electronics, heads, and just about everything else. And everything old is, in fact, new again. Flat base stands are back, and almost every drum manufacturer is offering a version of the classic, white marine pearl covering. But, and call us old-fashioned, I’d sure like to see the Slingerland logo on that bass drum at the Independence Day Parade. And by the way, if anyone ever runs into a set of Revere, let me know.


Friday, March 11th, 2005

Through the years, we’ve gotten some interesting requests, including “the video” of the 1938 Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall Concert and “the video” of the 1952 “Gene versus Buddy” drum battle. But what people have asked for the most is more video of Buddy Rich on “The Tonight Show.” 

It is not totally common knowledge that for some years, Johnny Carson only owned “The Tonight Show” programs from 1980 on. It wasn’t until relatively recently that he made a deal with NBC, and that deal gave him sole ownership to every “Tonight Show” in existence. Although few programs exist on tape before 1969-1970, there’s plenty of absolutely prime Buddy Rich in the decade of the 1970s. We are in the process of offering some of it on 

Our association with Mr. Carson and his office was always wonderful. When it came to Buddy, the Carson people were quite generous. Johnny Carson, by the way, was my first choice of narrator for “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend.” I almost had him, but he decided against it. 

Taking all this into account, the good folks at Hudson Music, and yours truly, recently came up with what we believed was one heck of an idea. The concept? Buddy Rich drum solos from “The Tonight Show.” No music, no talking (maybe just a little), just Buddy doing solo after solo after solo. That is why we watched him, wasn’t it? And with over 60 “Tonight Show” appearances, there would be no shortage of material. What a DVD this would make. 

I contacted the same folks I dealt with in the Carson office years ago. Way back when, they were great, open, generous and helpful. After Mr. Carson passed, however, these same folk “turned.” Like curdling milk. They suddenly told us that “absolutely none of this material” was available for licensing, especially after they heard our idea. 

Wow. None of it. And no reason given, except mention was made of the fact that “it’s a shame that much of this music will go unheard.” Not only is that a disgrace, but it’s bull. 

I believe that while Johnny Carson was alive, he saw to it that all of the available “Tonight Shows” would be preserved–and viewed–exactly as they were aired. I’m sure he didn’t want three decades of timeless material cut-up, ala “The Best of Motown on Ed Sullivan.” Well, I get the very strong sense that’s going to happen, which is the only possible reason I can think of to flat-out refuse us the opportunity to license Buddy Rich footage. 

I remember years back trying to make a deal for footage of Buddy with The Boston Pops. They wanted $60,000 for two minutes’ worth of film. I told them that no one had $60,000 and that my fear was that the film that existed would eventually turn to dust. I remember this gentlemen’s reply. “Yes, it will turn to dust,” he said. 

If you want to see this material–and it must be seen–I urge you to log on to and e-mail the folks in charge. All you have to say is “we want to see Buddy Rich.” I know I do. 

Bruce Klauber

Buddy’s Bop

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

Lest you believe that there are no drummers other than Gene Krupa, it is appropriate that we occasionally look at the artistry of other percussionists if only because some of them are featured on these pages. Buddy Rich has been a hero and an idol to many of us, regardless of our age or level of talent, and there’s a good reason for that. To these ears, Buddy Rich was, is and will always be the greatest drummer who ever lived. Like many of you, I saw him in person hundreds of times and probably have every record he ever recorded and almost every piece of video and film with his image on it. Technically, he was simply inhuman. More importantly, though, with rare exception, he swung like mad and drove and spurred on players to play way above themselves. And this happened in a wide, wide variety of circumstances, from his own big band to the Tatum/Hampton/Rich trios. 

Still, through the years, he wasn’t always the darling of critics. “Too loud,” “too heavy,” “no taste,” were some of the comments offered through the years by the music writers. One fellow went as far as to liken Buddy’s drumming to “a Las Vegas act.” Most of those opinions and quotations have been long forgotten. But there is one set of criticisms that won’t go away, and that concerns Buddy Rich’s participation in a legendary recording session. “Bird and Diz” was recorded on June 6, 1950 in New York city for Norman Granz’ Clef label, and featured a dream lineup of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk (the only time Monk ever recorded with Diz and Bird), bassist Curly Russell and Buddy on drums. 

Some of the comments about Rich’s drumming on this session ranged from the mild, with terms like “stylistically inappropriate,” to the downright mean. One writer accused Buddy of trying to “sabotage” the session, and another went a step further by saying Rich’s sounded like “a refugee from a drum and bugle corp” on this date. 

Now a compact disc with many, many alternate takes and false starts; “Bird and Diz” remains very much in print and continues to be reissued from time to time. This recording, in LP form, was among my absolute favorites through the years, and I’ve just pulled it out again for yet another careful listen. 

The truth of the matter is that, yes, maybe Roy Haynes, Max Roach or Stan Levey would have been more “stylistically appropriate” for this recording, but Buddy’s presence makes it so much more interesting. Leave it to Norman Granz to mix all the different styles and “see what comes out.” It’s a shame that’s not done more today. 

Buddy’s bop? It’s common knowledge that Buddy wasn’t thrilled with bop or bop drummers initially (Mel Torme’ said that Rich called them “fumferers”), but he dealt with his share of boppers in his own early bands, which included players like Alan Eager, Terry Gibbs and Johnny Mandel. Whether he liked it personally or not, he was certainly listening to bop, and it’s clear that the assimilated some of the language of it, at least those parts of it that he felt comfortable with and fit in with what he was doing. And in terms of being able to “hear” what was going on musically, however progressive it may have been at the time, it is important to remember that Buddy Rich could “hear” virtually anything. 

The fact is, Buddy Rich sounds great on “Bird and Diz.” Rhythmically grounded in the swing era though he may have been, he accompanies beautifully, is dynamically sensitive to Monk, and really inspires Dizzy. Buddy’s dropping some bass drum bombs here and there and his left hand, as always, interacts between his right foot for some very tasty independence. His breaks and solos are models of perfect time and of the Buddy Rich style, some of them even sounding closer to Gene than Buddy. Buddy, naturally, always had that bass drum going, and it that’s considered the swing style and stylistically inappropriate, so be it. I think it swings like mad, and to hear Buddy Rich on closed hi-hats, gently backing up Thelonious Monk is an example of why the best of jazz is, indeed, “the sound of surprise.” 

Rich’s drums were never that well recorded on his many 1950 Verve/Clef/Norgran dates, and his sound tended to vary from recording to recording. On “Bird and Diz,” the drum and cymbal sound isn’t great, which may have led some of these music writers to hear things they weren’t really hearing. Then, too, we must remember that this was 1950, long before the advent of high fidelity. Some of the problems, false starts and breakdowns on this recording were attributed to Rich. But listen carefully to what’s going on in the studio. Monk and Dizzy have their share of problems, and Curly Russell, though a good bassist who played on hundreds of bop sessions, is clearly no Charlie Mingus or Ray Brown in a rhythmic or tonal sense. If Buddy Rich exploded here and there on this record, I’d say it was because of frustration. And no, in 1950 he was not fully comfortable with the be-bop language, but he was getting there. Remember that be-bop drummer he met on record in 1959? And remember the outcome? 

Take a listen to “Bird and Diz” again. It’s as joyful as hearing Gene Krupa backing up Dizzy Gillespie, Red Norvo accompanying Charlie Parker, or Sonny Rollins meeting Coleman Hawkins in the recording studio. As for me, I’m now listening to Buddy Rich’s explosive four-bar breaks on take seven of “Leap Frog.”