Les DeMerle‘s interview appears in the October 1984 Modern Drummer. Les was an interesting musician who maintained a good balance between the business and artistic sides of drumming. At one point during the interview I ask Les, “It’s intriguing that you can remain so active in concerts, in teaching, in clinics, in seminars, in recordings, and in other areas of the music business – like owning and operating your own night club – and still grow on your instrument. How do you find the time to do all that?”
Les answers, “You have to make time for it. I openly admit that I’m totally dedicated to drumming and to music. Never in my life have I had to do anything other than play drums to make a living,” adding, “In other words, I keep enough things going so that if one falls through, the other one happens.”
I came across the transcript for this interview a few weeks ago. I’m sure it has been 30-years since I last read it. Les and I had good discussion. Here’s one part of it:
Scott K Fish: Fred Gruber told me that he once asked Buddy Rich what questions he would ask in an interview. And one of the questions Buddy asked Fred was, “What’s the greatest four-bar drum break ever recorded?” I’ll ask you the same question.
Les DeMerle: I would pick a four-bar break that Art Blakey does on the original recording of “Blues March.” I’m not even sure what album that’s on. The note placement gives me chills. Right where Art put the time is right where it should be.
There’s a live recording that Buddy did with Sammy Davis, Jr. Buddy plays a four-bar break on “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” that kills me too. But, as a favorite, I would say the Blakey one.
– end –
The greatest 4 bar break? Shadow Wilson with Count Basie’s Band on “Queer Street.”
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