Buddy Rich

The Argo, Emarcy and Verve Small Group Buddy Rich Sessions

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Buddy Rich, the most remarkable drummer to ever play jazz, can easily have his career divided into three. During 1937-1945 he was a notable sideman with big bands including those of Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey. In 1966 he formed his own successful orchestra that capitulated him to his greatest fame. During the 20 years in between, Rich led short-lived bebop big bands, a variety of combos, toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic, recorded with all-star groups, and had stints with the orchestras of Dorsey and Harry James. This seven-CD set draws its material from Rich's second period and it can also be divided into two. The first half has Rich recording for producer Norman Granz in a variety of combos. Rich interacts with trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison in a pair of octets (with Benny Carter or Willie Smith on altos), a quintet with altoist Sonny Criss, a Basie-oriented big band, and another quintet with pianist Jimmy Rowles. Edison is in peak form throughout. In addition, Rich heads an octet that has four of Count Basie's sidemen of the time (trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess, and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green) plus tenor great Ben Webster, the remarkable pianist Oscar Peterson, and bassist Ray Brown. A live quartet outing with the exciting tenor Flip Phillips acts as a bridge to the Emarcy and Argo recordings of Rich's working bands of 1960-1961. A septet arranged by Ernie Wilkins introduces vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, who is also heard with Rich in a sextet with flutist Sam Most, and a group with Most and trumpeter Rolf Ericson. One date with the Most-Mainieri lineup was released for the first time with this box. While Rich has his share of solo space throughout, playing ridiculously virtuosic solos, this swinging music contains much more than just drum solos, with all of the key principals being well featured. This limited-edition box set, which leaves out Rich's four vocal albums of the period (he does take a lone vocal on "Bongo, Bass and Guitar"), a collaboration with fellow drummer Max Roach, and a pair of big-band dates (including one co-led by Gene Krupa), has virtually everything else that Rich recorded as a leader during 1950-1965. Highly recommended and (as is typical for Mosaic) perfectly conceived.

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