Dave Tough: Absolutely Perfect Bass Drumming

Dave Tough

SKF NOTE: James Lincoln Collier‘s book, Benny Goodman and the Swing Era, has a few interesting Davey Tough insights. This Sid Weiss quote is one example. I don’t recall reading or hearing another musician saying Tough could play faster bass drum than either Buddy Rich or Louie Bellson. Or that Tough’s understanding of playing the bass drum was rare.

In 1945, after eighteen months with the brilliant Herman band, [Dave] Tough won first place in the Down Beat, Esquire and Metronome polls. [In an interview with James Lincoln Collier, jazz bassist] Sid Weiss said:

Buddy Rich is supposed to have that fast foot. But Davey could play faster than Buddy, and also play faster than Louie Bellson with two drums. Davey was unbelievable. Take charge. As small as he was, he knew just how to do it. When I played a note his bass drum would go through the note and amplify it. He had a way of playing the bass drum so it would not cover — the tonality was right or whatever. The way the pedal struck the drum, it was just absolutely perfect. Most drummers didn’t really understand about the bass drum, they weren’t really listening to the bass.

Source: Benny Goodman and the Swing Era, by James Lincoln Collier, Oxford University Press 1989.

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