Buddy Rich

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A previously unreleased live recording from various unattributed dates in 1977 and 1978, Buddy Rich leads his 15-piece big bands through exuberant music that for the most part avoids the contemporary R&B flavored jazz he was veering towards. Under the auspices of recording engineer, bandmember, and saxophonist Alan Gauvin, these 11 tracks represent a diplomatic Rich, handing off many of the solo chores and fortifying the group with rising stars at the time such as trumpeters Dave Stahl and Jon Marshall, trombonists John Mosca and Rick Stepton, pianists Bob Kaye or Barry Keiner, electric bass guitarist Tom Warrington, saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Gary Pribeck, and longtime running mate Steve Marcus. This is thoroughly modern big-band music, vibrant and brimming with energy and delight as demonstrated by the two openers, the 6/8 "Goodbye Yesterday" and the hard swinging "Machine." These charts are read to strict tolerance, but have a breadth and depth of variety not normally associated with a commercial jazz enterprise. Two of Bill Holman's compositions are here -- the supercharged bopper "Ready Mix, " and the easier swinging "Loose," the latter employing a lovely flute cadenza. Mintzer, who would shortly thereafter lead his own big band, contributes "Party Time" and "Funk City-Ola" representing the neo-bop or Brecker Brothers style skunk funk of the time. There's a fairly straight reading of Bud Powell's "Bouncin' with Bud," a layered, rearranged intro to Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" and the bluesy Ernie Wilkins evergreen "Senator Sam," while the pop tune "Chicago" gets a more expansive treatment with Rich's drum fills as close as he comes to soloing. The title track is Exhibit A for the band's overall stance, a blazing Don Menza hard bop classic that student bands should adopt for further exploration. It's a well recorded document, not to mention that the band sounds so unified, and plays together as if it were a regular working group (the personnel does measurably change from track to track) you'd think it was one single continuous performance, and not several snapshots of Rich in his waning days. This one is recommended.

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