Buddy Rich - Trios

Album of the Week, 09-19-23

Buddy Rich – Trios
Light Year Entertainment

In 2023, some 36 years after his death, the name of Buddy Rich is still synonymous with the word “drums” in many quarters, as is his reputation as a swinging, driving, fiery, and charismatic drummer/leader of a series of superb big bands, roughly in existence from 1966 until his passing in 1987.

What is not generally known is that Rich was also a sensitive, passionate and inspiring small group drummer, who backed, through the years, everyone from Lester Young and Nat King Cole to Bud Powell and Louis Armstrong in small ensembles.

Two landmark trio recordings, in fact, featured Rich with Lester Young and Nat Cole in 1945, and with Art Tatum and Lionel Hampton in a 1955 session. The fact that a drummer could sensitively drive these legends—in dates with no bass, yet—with nothing more than a pair of brushes, was and is astounding.

This is why Buddy Rich Trios, a Lightyear Entertainment release culled from 1976 and 1977 sessions recorded by the then Rich bandsman Alan Gauvin, is such a pleasure to hear. It gives younger listeners, and/or those only familiar with Rich in a big band setting, another view of the man and his music, and how he was able to drive more contemporary players with, once again, only a pair of brushes.

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Each week, WDNA music director, Michael Valentine shares his album of the week. Michael’s picks often focus on new jazz releases, but sometimes dip into history with notable and classic releases worth revisiting.

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