Buddy Rich

The Best of Buddy Rich

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The Best of Buddy Rich (whether or not it actually is the best of Rich's long career can be debated) is actually a three-disc box containing the mid-'70s albums The Roar of '74, Very Live at Buddy's Place, and Big Band Machine. Rich, for all his flashiness and bravado, was an incredible drummer, and he took a definite risk by forming a drummer-led big band in 1966, but he pulled it off and continued working in a big-band format the rest of his professional life. All three of these albums demonstrate the powerful and rhythmic swing Rich's big bands could generate, a sound that at times almost borders on a kind of urban jungle funk, and the three releases fit together amazingly well, like three interchangeable pieces in the same polyrhythmic quilt. Highlights include the funky and swinging "Nuttville" from Roar; the pounding "Nica's Dream" from Very Live; and a skipping, hopping version of Leiber & Stoller's "On Broadway" from Big Band Machine. This was the kind of sound Rich envisioned for big bands, and while it might not be everyone's cup of tea, there's no denying that he led a powerhouse band that was as versatile as it was energetic.

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