Vidacovich is another drummer I’ve known about for 40 years or so, but outside of the occasional song video, or article reference — “One of the top New Orleans jazz drummers.” “Brian Blade’s drum teacher.” — I haven’t really listened much to Johnny Vidacovich.
I bought this album on instinct, uploaded it to my trusty old MP3 player, and listened while driving around last weekend on errands.
Like the best New Orleans jazz, ‘Bout Time swings start to finish. All of the band members are new to me. Michael Pellera (keyboards), Tony Dagradi (sax), Ed Wise (bass). They are all excellent players in both ensemble and solo roles throughout this album.
As for Mr. Vidacovich? Listening to him was like enjoying the scent of magnolia blossoms. A drummer who plays the drums. Many times I wondered if his set-up included cymbals. Of course, it did, and Vidacovich uses them very well. It seemed to me I was hearing an original. Yes, I know he’s well-schooled in drum traditions. That’s as it should be with all serious drummers.
But knowing what drummers who came before you were about doesn’t mean copying their styles. It means absorbing their styles, understanding their perspective, and then using your own percussive voice on the drumset. That’s what I hear from Vidacovich on ‘Bout Time.