Through the years very few of the jazz artists that I followed were drummers. I have a couple of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers albums in my library. Today we can celebrate the drummer, who most folks feel is the best drummer of all-time. Bernard “Buddy” Rich was born on September 30, 1917 in Manhattan, New York, to Jewish vaudevillians Bess (Skolnik) and Robert Rich. Rich was billed as “the world’s greatest drummer”! He was known for his virtuoso technique, power, groove, and speed. According to Wikipedia:
Rich first played jazz with a major group in 1937 with Joe Marsala and guitarist Jack Lemaire. He then played with Bunny Berigan (1938) and Artie Shaw (1939), and even instructed a 14-year-old Mel Brooks in drumming for a short period when playing for Shaw. At 21, Rich participated in his first major recording with the Vic Schoen Orchestra (the band that backed the Andrews Sisters). In 1938, he was also hired to play in Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra where he met and performed with Frank Sinatra. In 1942, Rich left the Dorsey band to join the United States Marine Corps. He rejoined the Dorsey group after leaving the Marines two years later. In 1946, Rich formed his own band with financial support from Sinatra, and continued to lead different groups on and off until the early fifties.:92, 95
The Buddy Rich Big Band in the 1940s
In addition to Tommy Dorsey (1939–42, 1945, 1954–55), Rich also played with Benny Carter (1942), Harry James (1953-56–62, 1964, 1965), Les Brown, Charlie Ventura, and Jazz at the Philharmonic, as well as leading his own band and performing with all-star groups. In the early fifties Rich played with Dorsey and began to perform with trumpeter Harry James, an association which lasted until 1966. In 1966, Rich left James to develop a new big band. For most of the period from 1966 until his death, he led successful big bands in an era when the popularity of big bands had waned from their 1930s and 1940s peak. In this later period, Rich continued to play clubs and stated in multiple interviews that the great majority of his big band’s performances were at high schools, colleges and universities, with club performances done to a much lesser degree. Rich also served as the session drummer for many recordings, where his playing was often much more understated than in his own big-band performances. Especially notable were Rich’s sessions for the late-career comeback recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, on which he worked with pianist Oscar Peterson and his famous trio featuring bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. Read More
Wikipedia lists 46 albums that Rich released between 1953 and 1985 either as leader or co-leader! All I know he appeared on a variety of TV shows from the 60s through the 80s everything from the Tonight Show to The Muppet Show!! He passed away on April 2, 1987, He died of heart failure following surgery for a malignant brain tumor..co
I found this article at musicradar.com dated November 30, 2012!! Drummer’s World Cup: The 9 best Jazz drummers of all time subtitled The results are in for the Jazz, Bebop, Fusion and Big Band round of the Rhythm Drummer’s World Cup…..The Top Eight are….
1. Buddy Rich
2. Billy Cobham
3 Joe Morello
4. Steve Smith
5. Elvin Jones
6. Tony Williams
7. Gene Krupa
8. Max Roach
Amazing 23 years after his passing and he’s still No. 1! Happy Birthday, Buddy!
Here’s Buddy performing the song “Bugle Call Rag” from 1982 and just think he’s frantically drumming like that at 65 years old, before 60 became the new 40!!!