Re: The Grand Master Buddy Rich
I don't want to step into Mike's eventual more qualified answer, but I wanted to weigh in on this one.
There are a number of fine examples of Rich playing in rock/fusion and crossover genres. Of course most people point immediately to his Pacific Jazz outing Buddy and Soul, where the switch was most apparent. But in my estimation he gets a lot better at this style a little later, although the Wonderbag track is quite good.
To me, Speak No Evil RCA from the mid 1970s, was a really fine example of Rich playing in this style. But it was destroyed by jazz critics and his main fan group, who thought Rich had sold out. A lot of the arrangements themselves weren't that great either, with slicked up silly background vocals. So you don't hear much about it now. But if some of the Rich can't play rock guys would listen to it, they would have a much better impression of his drumming in that style. The horn playing on Speak No Evil ... especially saxophonist Steve Marcus, and the trumpet work of Blood Sweat and Tears' Lew Soloff, is top notch.
You also hear fine rock based Rich examples on Roar of 74, and latter efforts where saxophonist Bob Mintzer is present. But again in most cases, the quality of the rock based arrangements themselves is so horrible, that the playing is also dismissed in hand..and except for Speak No Evil, Rich never recorded a project where he played all rock. So if there were some jazz tracks on the album, young guys would say Not a real rock record, and dismiss it. So he was gettin' it from both sides.
My feeling about his rock playing is: Much, much better than his detractors claim. In facts it's really good... but not the greatest rock drumming in history as the fanatics would say either.
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