Jazz CD Reviews

Frank Derrick – The Beat Goes On – Jazzed Media

The jazz drum tradition is in good hands

Published on August 14, 2008

Frank Derrick – The Beat Goes On – Jazzed Media
Frank Derrick – The Beat Goes On – Jazzed Media –  JM 1035, 70:00 ****1/2:

(Quintet of Frank Derrick, drums; Billy Ross, saxophones, Melton Mustafa, trumpet and Flugelhorn; George Caldwell, piano; Chuck Bergeron and Ranses Colon, bass – with 17 artists contributing to big band compositions)

Though not a household name, Frank Derrick, before moving to south Florida in the late 1990s, played in the 1970s thru mid 90s with the likes of orchestras of Ellington, Herman, Benny Carter, and Eubie Blake. Those in the know can tell you he was the drummer in the early years of David Letterman’s show. Since the late 90s Derrick conducts and drums with the Palm Beach Pops and works with a variety of large and small Florida aggregations.

On The Beat Goes On, Derrick has lovingly provided a tribute to his drum idols, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Art Blakey and the still powerful, Roy Haynes. But rather than turn this tribute CD into a drum blowout, Derrick has the class to share the spotlight as all good teachers do with the rest of his quintet and big band.

Away We Go opens the CD with a nod to Buddy Rich. Chris Labarbera and Billy Ross have blazing solos behind Derrick’s driving beat. Conquest, composed to honor Art Blakey has the Messengers signature “sound” and the great Melton Mustafa on trumpet and New York pianist George Caldwell get prominent space to stretch out. Derrick gets the Blakey feel just right!

Derrick’s brushwork is highlighted on Neil Hefti’s swinging Cute. Billy Ross’ flute and the muted trumpet of Mustafa contribute to the samba. Sonny and Cher’s The Beat Goes On gets a much better reading than this normally schmaltzy track evokes. Alan Baylock gets the credit for the arrangement. Just shows what a good arranger can salvage…

Gershwin’s Summertime is arranged to feature trombonist Dante Luciani and has a different feel with muted horns accompanying Dante. Three songs from My Fair Lady get a medley at 12 minutes and Derrick’s mastery of the cymbals is explored. Brubeck’s classic Blue Rondo a la Turk in 9/8 time with transitions at 4/4 is a challenge that Derrick’s arrangement meets head on.

In Stride changes the mood to funk meets big band and the tenors of Ed Maina and Jim Hayward battle it out with trombone and trumpet getting in their licks. A great number…Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You, based on the Clifford Brown and Max Roach arrangement, again features Melton Mustafa (who we need to hear more of as a leader), as well as Billy Ross. Derrick keeps great time with the rest of the rhythm section as Chuck Bergeron and George Caldwell lock in the groove.

Recorded in Miami and mastered by the great George Horn, Derrick (and once again, Jazzed Media), have hit a home run. Thanks to Derrick, the beat certainly goes on in South Florida.  Jazzed Media has toured the country, bringing lesser-known jazz artists and communities to the forefront. Where are we going next, Graham Carter?

Away We Go, Conquest, Cute, The Beat Goes On, Caravan, Summertime, My Fair Lady, Blue Rondo a la Turk, In Stride, Me Too, I Get a Kick Out of You, Slaughter on 10th Avenue

– Jeff Krow

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