Mel Torme Interviews Buddy Rich: A Classic Interview

[SKF NOTE: This is a wonderful, informative interview of Buddy Rich by Mel Torme. I still have the original Down Beat. This interview is so good that, by comparison, I thought Mel Torme’s book about Buddy Rich, Traps – The Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich, was a let down.]

ARCHIVES & CLASSIC INTERVIEWs
Rich + Tormé = Wild Repartee
by Mel Tormé — 2/9/1978
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Buddy RichRich: That’s the idea of playing. The idea of maintaining some kind of stamina is to be able to get around the drum with the least motion. And that’s the way you do it. You have everything so that instead of having to play out everything, everything is just exactly where your hands would automatically be. It’s the same as having dinner, with a knife and fork in front of you. The position is everything.

Tormé: Once in Vegas, I asked you a dumb question about what’s the key to mastering technique with drums, and you told me that if you can master a roll, both closed and open, that was the center—the core of playing. Why?

Rich: If you can do single strokes and if you do them at an incredible speed, it automatically closes down to a closed roll. And if you lighten up on the speed, you pull back a little and you automatically have an open roll. One roll will take you back to single strokes. The single strokes will give you the flexibility to create rhythmical ideas, rhythmical patterns off of single strokes, and then you gradually follow that into triplets off the left hand, triplets off the right hand, back and forth going into a roll again. Most drummers who can’t roll really don’t have any techniques with the hands. You must have the ability to control your wrist to a point where you can make your roll sound like you’re tearing a piece of sandpaper.

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