Re: ...for the jazz cats ...
Oh hell yeah. I just revisisted this because you guys mentioned it a couple weeks ago.
I agree. Tony was just at a different level. I seriously prefer his playing circa 1963-1965 over anything he did later.
I know he's probably even more famous for the stuff he did years later, like the "blushda" licks, the quarter note on the hats and all the fusion stuff. That's what people seem to remember most, that's what the Lifetime tribute band with Cindy Blackman celebrates.
But, to me, this stuff was the pinnacle of Tony. And maybe jazz drumming in general.
He was so fresh at this point, played stuff so swinging, yet so advanced. His inventiveness seemed to have no limits. No repeating himself, no contrived "licks." His drum sound is so musical. His cymbal sound is the standard for the instrument in this music, for so many.