Buddy Rich – Live in ’78 (Holland)

Jazz Icons/Reelin’ in the Years DVWW-JIBR
Video: 4:3 color 
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Length: 1 hour    
Rating: ***1/2

(Artists: Buddy Rich, drums; John Marshall, Mike McGovern, Mark Ohlsen, trumpets; Glen Franke, Dale Kirkland, George Moran, trombone; Andy Fusco,Steve Marcus, Gary Pribeck, Greg Smith, Chuck Wilson, reeds; Tom Warrington, bass; Bob Kaye, piano)

Whereas in the 1950s and 1960s, Buddy Rich shared the spotlight in his recordings with many jazz masters – mostly on the Verve roster – by the 1970s Buddy Rich’s bands were mostly about Buddy Rich. By that time, Rich was considered “The Worlds Greatest Drummer,” due to his power and extended solos. Rich was the ultimate showman, and made regular visits to the Tonight Show, where he could dazzle with his drum mastery.

Rich’s 1978 band was tight however, and although it featured no “big” names, it was nicknamed The Killer Force, and supposedly was dubbed by Rich as the “best band I ever had.” What makes this Jazz Icons DVD a bit special is the clear color video with few defects and the clean bright sound. Rich is the center of attention, of course, but his brass section follows his lead well and drives hard. Most of the video shots center around Rich, but several solos by others are given the screen’s full attention. It would have been a nice touch to identify the band’s soloists on screen as the its members are not immediately recognizable.

Song selection is a mixture of standards – Round Midnight, Birdland – with lesser known big band fare –  Ya’ Gotta Try, Best Coast, Channel One Suite,and Big Swing Face. Special features provided with the DVD include a 20 page booklet with liner notes by Dean Pratt, a foreward by Rich’s daughter, Cathy, and rare photos.

— Jeff Krow