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Buddy Rich: “Birdland”

People who know put Buddy Rich at or near the top of the list of jazz drummers.

Two things are evident in this interesting interview from 1956: Both Rich and Gene Krupa, another drumming legend, seemed like very nice guys.The other takeaway is that Rich, according to Krupa, was something of a drummer savant:

When I speak of natural drummers I’m talking about guys that are playing with the talent God gave ’em. But here’s an amazing thing. While this isn’t true of either Ray McKinley or Bauduc-it’s true of Buddy. You can watch Buddy play and actually if you watch him, you’d think he’s the most studied person in the world. And even Buddy himself will make something-like, we’ll be in the dressing room, he’ll pick up a pair of sticks and say: “Well, what is this?” And he’ll rattle a little bit and actually, if I break it down, get him to do it slow enough, I can name it. I can break it down into whatever it is. And inherently, naturally, he fingers all these things correctly. Now, I know why this is.

Rich is familiar to many middle age folks who weren’t jazz fans because of his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show. It was a natural: Rich was funny and personable and Johnny Carson was an amateur drummer.

Drummers must be a competitive lot. Many of the clips on YouTube feature drumming contests, including one on Seseme Street in which Rich beats Animal — but ends up wearing the snare. Here is his band playing If I Were a Bell and One O’Clock Jump. Information also is available at a Rich website.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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