The Strange 1972 TV Appearance of Buddy Rich

SKF NOTE: Starting with the album cover, continuing with the opening sound of Buddy Rich’s sticks on his hi-hat cymbal bell(s) on Side 1 Track 1’s “Space Shuttle,” Buddy’s 1972 “Stick It” album is excellent. I bought the album when it was first released, and it remains a favorite. Buddy’s drumset is recorded very well.

That’s why a YouTube post of Buddy’s 1972 on The Tonight Show caught my attention. But what a crazy show. Whenever Buddy was a guest on Johnny Carson’s tv show, the two friends always threw verbal barbs back-and-forth. But this show takes the barb throwing to new heights — including some censoring before air time.

Grady Tate is in The Tonight Show Orchestra drum chair. Using Tate’s drumset, Buddy sits in with the band for a number — likely the oddest performance I can remember. It’s an extension of the barb tossing to the bandstand until bandleader Doc Severinsen and the whole band are in on the act.

Finally, I am at a loss to explain why Grady Tate’s drums sound awful. On acoustic jazz records especially, Tate always has beautiful sounding cymbals and drums. Buddy is visibly uncomfortable with the drums. Maybe Grady was deferring to the wishes of the tv sound engineer.

Quite a piece of Buddy Rich memorabilia.

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Freddie Gruber – Bass Drum Foot Pedal Approach

SKF NOTE: Here’s the back story on this interview with Freddie Gruber.

In this excerpt I ask Freddie about his bass drum pedal teaching. Heel down? Heel up? We also discuss bass drum pedals with light construction vs heavy construction.

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Keith Copeland – Jazz Drummers Who Influenced Me and Why

SKF NOTE: I rediscovered my Keith Copeland interview transcript in July 2015. Keith and I spoke over dinner at a Centre Island, NY restaurant. I have forgotten the restaurant name. Neither do I remember how this interview came to pass. But re-reading the transcript for the first time in about 30 years, I am impressed! Keith and I had a good rapport, both asking very good questions and giving very good answers.

In this excerpt I asked Keith if he could give me a chronological list of jazz drummers who most influenced him, and what it was Keith liked most about the drummers and their drumming.

The highlights in Keith’s answer, for me, are his reflections on Thelonious Monk and Monk’s drummers, and Keith’s thoughts about Elvin Jones.

Final thought: the audio quality is not the best, but it is very audible, and Keith’s insight is well worth adding to the public square.

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Joe Morello on Technique (1978)


SKF NOTE: I interviewed Joe Morello in 1978 at his New Jersey home. My friend and fellow drummer, Chris Conrade, was with me. We three sat in Joe’s living room and Joe often played during the interview with drumsticks on his nearby drum pad.

In this excerpt Joe is looking for a simple way to describe his understanding of drum technique. If you’re listening to this excerpt you will hear Joe talk about technique and demonstrate what he talks about on his drum pad. He also talks about his “good friend” Mel Lewis’s technique, and a little bit about Buddy Rich.

This is all timeless drummer food for thought.

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Ray Davies – Happy Mistakes that Make a Band Unique

SKF NOTE: Great songwriters have a special place in my heart. Performing onstage in front of an audience is often nerve wracking, but that experience for band leaders, front-men, must be scarier than it is for sidemen. When the front-man is also the band’s chief songwriter?

Then the front-man, chief songwriter, goes out on his own. His legendary band behind him, the songwriter pursues a solo career. He still loves his old songs, but recognizes his need for new songs from a new point of view.

Ray Davies‘s first Top 10 hit with the Kinks was “You Really Got Me” in 1964. He’s still writing valuable songs from his unique worldview. The songs are not Top 10 hits, but so what?

Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story is Ray Davies’s book about his post-Kinks musical quest. His two albums correspond to the book: “Americana” (2017) and “Our Country: Americana Act II” (2018).

Mr. Davies’s book, “Americana” is a quite interesting introspective. The excerpt here is Davies making good points for any performing musician. Great bands are sometimes greater than the individual band members. According to Davies, the Kinks are a case in point.

In searching for new musicians, a new band, Davies finds that a roomful of virtuoso players won’t necessarily “gel as a band.”

“I was longing for those happy mistakes, those errors that make a band unique,” writes Davies. See if you can spot the “happy mistake” in the 1965 video above of the Kinks appearance on the “Shindig” tv show.


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Who is Gary Chester?


Who is Gary Chester?
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • October 29, 2018

Gary Chester, starting in the 1960s, was a top New York studio drummer. One of a special breed of musicians who music producers and artists counted on to make hit records. Mostly these musicians worked inside recording studios in places like New York City, Los Angeles, Muscle Shoals, and New Orleans.

When Gary Chester retired after 20 years as a studio musician, he had chalked up 14,000 recording sessions. If you listen to classic rock and pop music, it’s hard to go through a day without hearing Gary Chester’s drumming.

Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” Dionne Warwick’s “What the World Needs Now,” The Chiffons, “He’s So Fine,” Petula Clark, “Downtown,” Jim Croce, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” John Denver’s, “Rocky Mountain High,” and The Drifters’ “Up On the Roof.” These hits barely scratch the surface of Mr. Chester’s body of work.

The first time I heard about Gary was in a letter sent in response to my 1982 five-part Modern Drummer magazine series, “A History of Rock Drumming.” The letter, signed “Gary Chester,” patted me on the back, but wondered why I hadn’t included Gary Chester.

Full story

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Ed Soph – Make Jazz Drumming History Interesting (1978)


SKF NOTE: This excerpt, from my first of a few interviews with Ed Soph, follows earlier discussion on how best to teach students the history of jazz drumming. Ed’s idea seems simple enough: don’t bore students, make the subject interesting.

Ed’s home in Garrison, NY — upstate near Bear Mountain — was the setting for this interview. You’ll hear birds singing in the background. My friend, and Ed’s drum student, Chris Conrade, took part in the full conversation, although Chris is not heard in this excerpt.

But Chris did introduce me to Ed Soph, and I’m glad he did. Soph is always interesting to interview.

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