Jan 20, 2020
More than thirty years after the Rolling Stones’ Mobile Recording Studio recorded the show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, fans of the late, great Buddy Rich are finally getting a chance to hear Just in Time; The Final Recording. Rich is leading a big band composed of many of the leading lights of his final touring group: Matt Harris on piano; Rob Amster on double bass; Trumpets including Eric Miyashiro, Kevin Richardson, Greg Gisbert, and Dana Watson; Trombones including Rick Trager, Tom Garling, Jim Martin; and Saxophones including Bob Bowlby, Mike Rubino, Steve Marcus, Chris Bacas, and Jay Craig. Buddy’s daughter Cathy was also there that night to lend her vocals to “Twisted”.
The album recording is crisp and hot, as are the arrangements and band performances. Whether the band is playing old favorites like “The Trolley Song” or “Love for Sale” or jamming hard on the closing “Good News”, this is an album worthy of the legend of Buddy Rich.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1917 to a show business family,
Rich began drumming at only 18 months old and by 1921 was known as
“Traps, the Drum Wonder” whilst performing with his parents’
vaudeville act. His performance routine soon took on tap dancing,
singing and comedy, and he became the second highest paid child
performer of the mid-1920s.
By 1938, Rich had discovered jazz and was playing with clarinetist Joe Marsala’s group, before going on to perform with Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey’s big bands. He led his own band in 1945-1947, financially backed by Frank Sinatra, which did not take off, before touring with the Jazz at the Philharmonic. He recorded with countless stars for Verve during the 1950s, including Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Art Tatum.
In 1966, Buddy Rich finally managed to put together his own successful big band, which under different guises became his main group for the next 20 odd years. These outfits - which featured young, unknown players - won over a new generation of jazz listeners. Rich also introduced rock and pop arrangements into the band’s repertoire, demonstrating his ability to adapt to his audience’s changing tastes.
Rich fans also have been given a glimpse into Rich’s life from the publication of Buddy Rich -One of a Kind: The Making of The World’s Greatest Drummer, a biography by Pelle Berglund. Park of the Hudson Music series of releases, the book attempts to get the Rich story right, and is aided by some previously unavailable photos.
Buddy’s daughter Cathy spoke with me about her father, the release of Just in Time; The Final Recording and her thoughts on the Berglund biography. Musical selections for Podcast 720 include the CD opener “Wind Machine” and a memorable turn on “The Beat Goes On” by a prepubescent Cathy and Buddy’s band from 1967’s Big Swing Face.