Buddy Rich is well-known as one of the greatest big band and jazz drummers of all time. His technique was simply amazing and listening to any of his performances is just a pleasure. I have an electric drum set (so as to not piss off the neighbours while practicing) and love to pretend that I’m able to keep up with any of his songs. There are some easy ones that I can actually play (because the emphasis is on the other instruments of the big band), but most are just incredibly difficult.
But there’s one song in particular that always leaves me floored. The live performance of The Nitty Gritty:
What amazes me in this live performance is not the fact that it’s a complex tune, from the drums point of view (he has other tunes that are a bit more complex) or even the perfect combination of percussion with the horns section. It’s the fact that so much of Buddy Rich’s personality is ingrained in the performance.
Buddy was also well-known for his temper and the lack of patience he had for band members that could not keep up with him. In this performance, you can clearly see that he regrets the tempo that he chose to start with and keeps increasing the pace throughout the song. Considering that he didn’t have that much love for practicing and rehearsals, it’s simply amazing how the rest of the band is able to keep up without losing a beat.
If you have 4 minutes to spare this weekend and you can manage to enjoy this song with some good headphones, just do it. It’s quite something.