April 2nd of this year marked the 30th anniversary of the passing of perhaps the greatest drummer to ever walk this planet. The incomparable Buddy Rich.
For those of you who are not well-versed in the folklore surrounding Buddy, let us keep it simple. Rich is responsible for bringing our instrument into the spotlight and then re-inventing it for the next seven decades to stay there. He started playing live at the age of 18 months (you read that right) and continued right up until his death in 1987. In that time, he pushed the greatest big bands built by Dorsey, Gillespie, and Armstrong among others including his own, which featured drum solos that are yet to be matched for their touch, musicality, and pure raw ferocity. He was one of the first to introduce double bass drums to the jazz idiom and was a regular on Carson and Merv Griffin where his television drum battles became mainstream legend. If that wasn't enough, he is (hopefully) the only drummer to continue a solo, while reportedly having a heart attack.
Quite honestly, the legend of Buddy is so long and dense, that we can't dive into that in this challenge. What we can offer is, what we consider. The best view into his life through the eyes of another great American Crooner - Mel Torme. Torme's book Traps the Drumming Wonder walks you through Buddy's colorful life. In it, you will learn that the man who berated his bands almost constantly, probably had a good reason to – he never gave less than 110% every night.
For this week's challenge, we want you to take Buddy's seat and see if you can hold on. We firmly believe that a drummer cannot respect his skills until they try and keep up with one of his greatest pieces of work – the full version of the West Side Story Medley. This song tests nearly everything Buddy brought to the stage. A gentle touch, blazing fills, the ability to drive a very big band, and one hell of a solo that will leave you winded. I think the only thing missing is his brushwork...but we will leave that for another day.
So, give it a shot and share clips of your experience with Spirit and Groove on Instagram. We may choose it to be featured on our feed and if you get the most likes. You could win any tee in our store. Including those in our Groove Power™ line. Something we can say with 100% certainty that Buddy had.