Frank Derrick is a veteran drummer who has spent several decades working in various jazz orchestras and with legends like Benny Carter and Eubie Blake, while also serving as house drummer for The David Letterman Show and working in the pit for a number of Broadway shows. The Beat Goes On is an excellent, if long delayed debut as a leader for him, showcasing his chops not only as a soloist but also as an arranger and composer, in both big-band and quintet settings. His lighthearted scoring of "Cute" (one of many Neal Hefti gems popularized by Count Basie) features a tasty samba worked into the body of the piece, showcasing flautist Billy Ross, a muted trumpet solo by Melton Mustafa, and pianist Mike Levine, in addition to the leader's crisp brushwork. Derrick was inspired by Art Blakey's 1962 recording of "Caravan" when he created his updated arrangement, which alternates between hard bop and an Afro-Latin flavor. Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" is rarely performed in a big-band setting, but Derrick's superb chart reveals its possibilities, featuring Mustafa's expressive flugelhorn and Ross' playful soprano sax. The drummer's originals also sparkle. "In Stride" is a loping funk vehicle, while "Conquest" is a breezy hard bop vehicle. Hopefully, Frank Derrick won't have to wait long for a follow-up record date.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden