Buddy Rich

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Driver Review

by Ken Dryden

This pair of small group studio sessions led by drummer Buddy Rich is a long lost treasure, issued by Emarcy in the early '60s as The Driver. The band includes trombonist Willie Dennis, tenor saxophonist Seldon Powell, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, trumpeter Irv Markowitz, and bassist Earl May, while it is the only occasion (aside from a pair of broadcasts from later in the same month) that pianist Dave McKenna recorded with Rich. The excellent charts, several of which are effective blues numbers, were contributed by Ernie Wilkins, including several pieces jointly credited to the leader. Dennis and Powell shine in the catchy blues "Bloody Mary," while May takes center stage with a fine solo in "Miss Bessie's Cookin'." Although Rich was always ready to show off his chops, he is quite adept at comping throughout much of the album, though his explosive drum rolls in "A Night in Tunisia" are an obvious highlight. A pair of tracks from these sessions ("That's Rich, Man" and "Astronaut") were issued on a subsidiary label, Wing, while "Pent-Up House" was never released.

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