Joe Morello

I think he is probably one of the most underrated jazz greats. I have been on a Joe Morello listening frenzy lately, and he is one of the greatest ever for sure. Been trying and I do mean TRYING to play along to Take 5 lately and I never realized all the little things he does that are so cool until recently.
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
I am enjoying Joe Morello a lot more lately. Not only because he is one of the greats, but it is very easy to listen to Joe Morello, because his playing style is easy to hear on the recordings, he plays more out front then a lot of the Jazz drummers of the same era. Live at Carnegie is great. It is an older recording from the 60's and he can be heard clearly live.
 
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funkutron

Guest
Yep. I saw him at a drum clinic at Keith Purvis Drum Shop in Burien, Wa, back in the 70's. Absolutely a master of his craft. The solo "Far More Drums" on the Brubeck album to me is the gold standard of what a drum solo should be like. And he never deviated from the 5/4 groove! Musicality, not "balls to the wall everything right now" is what a tasteful player brings to the table. And Morello was all that and more.
 
What about Buddy Rich?
Well, the two were good friends and respected each other's skill.

But ... musically? Buddy Rich vs. Joe Morello is sledgehammer versus fine crafting tools. I just threw on Caravan to see if maybe I've been slighting Rich's musicality ... it's like listening to drums thrown down stairs. If Buddy Rich ever played a ghost note, someone point me to it.

YMMV, it's all personal taste. But I'm right :p
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Morello was.......cool...

Rich was......hot....

Thankfully neither one was luke warm, and I enjoy a cold glass of ice tea as much as a hot cup of coffee.
 

BenjaminCamelot

Senior Member
Well, the two were good friends and respected each other's skill.

But ... musically? Buddy Rich vs. Joe Morello is sledgehammer versus fine crafting tools. I just threw on Caravan to see if maybe I've been slighting Rich's musicality ... it's like listening to drums thrown down stairs. If Buddy Rich ever played a ghost note, someone point me to it.

YMMV, it's all personal taste. But I'm right :p
So Buddy Rich being the sledgehammer I assume and Joe Morello being the crafting tools?
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
What about Buddy Rich?
Buddy Rich was fast and precise. But - as already pointed out, Sledgehammer. He lacked IMO the musicality, the versatility, the technical skills that Morello had.

Take e.g. Buddys drumsolos. You exactly knew how they would be, even before he started. Fast faster faster... snare first, then snare with toms then finishing off with "cymbal-disaster". It's always loud, no finesse, no melodies in it. It was always "in your face". And never in 5/5 or 7/4 or 9/4. Always in 4/4. People were impressed by his speed - which is impressive (altough he wasn't the fastest drummer) - his charisma, which is okay. He was a great showman (with a terrible character as it seems). But he was not a stellar musician IMO. Even when he played with his band, it was always drum-centric. He was the star, nobody else should be in the spotlight. It makes the music mediocre imho, because it lacks diversity.

Morello on the other hand was was incredibly melodic, had a ton of feel and groove in him. And he did give others lots of possibilities to shine. He was not the star of his band but a part of his band, thus did everything that was needed to improve the music they created. That's why he readily played with brushes so often, it served the music better. And he knew when to just shut up with this drums. ;-)

When he solo'ed, he was absolutely "unpredictable" compared to Rich. It was sometimes, only hand-percussion, even hand-clapping. Sometimes a 4/4 solo, sometimes a 5/4 or 7/4 solo, snare and toms used in different patterns, bassdrum added as a real(!) accent instrumet, soloing on a groove or keeping time with the hihat while slowing down or speeding up on the other instruments... it's a completely different level. I guess it has to do not only with Morellos immense talent but also with the fact that he studied with some of the best teachers back then. Rich lacked that, he was self-taught.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
Joe Morello - Morello Standard Time (1994)

I came across this 1994 JM album surfing on YT.

The audio has such clarity that it was easy to hear (and thrill at) Joe's incredibly simply but potent bop grooves in this quartet's configuration.

Easy listening and great drummer tutorial for how this style works so well with the music. TG for JM!

"Drummer Joe Morello's second date as a leader for DMP (and only third since 1962) uses the same lineup of musicians as the previous one: tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama, pianist Greg Kogan and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi. Although a powerful drummer, Morello is mostly content to feature his sidemen, particularly the up-and-coming Lalama, whose style fits perfectly into late-1950s hard bop. Highlights of the often delightful bop set include "Paper Moon," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Doxy" and "Take Five."(AllMusic)."
https://youtu.be/c4-VmfhRAq8


 

taiko

Senior Member
Buddy Rich was fast and precise. But - as already pointed out, Sledgehammer. He lacked IMO the musicality, the versatility, the technical skills that Morello had.

Take e.g. Buddys drumsolos. You exactly knew how they would be, even before he started. Fast faster faster... snare first, then snare with toms then finishing off with "cymbal-disaster". It's always loud, no finesse, no melodies in it. It was always "in your face". And never in 5/5 or 7/4 or 9/4. Always in 4/4. People were impressed by his speed - which is impressive (altough he wasn't the fastest drummer) - his charisma, which is okay. He was a great showman (with a terrible character as it seems). But he was not a stellar musician IMO. Even when he played with his band, it was always drum-centric. He was the star, nobody else should be in the spotlight. It makes the music mediocre imho, because it lacks diversity.

Morello on the other hand was was incredibly melodic, had a ton of feel and groove in him. And he did give others lots of possibilities to shine. He was not the star of his band but a part of his band, thus did everything that was needed to improve the music they created. That's why he readily played with brushes so often, it served the music better. And he knew when to just shut up with this drums. ;-)

When he solo'ed, he was absolutely "unpredictable" compared to Rich. It was sometimes, only hand-percussion, even hand-clapping. Sometimes a 4/4 solo, sometimes a 5/4 or 7/4 solo, snare and toms used in different patterns, bassdrum added as a real(!) accent instrumet, soloing on a groove or keeping time with the hihat while slowing down or speeding up on the other instruments... it's a completely different level. I guess it has to do not only with Morellos immense talent but also with the fact that he studied with some of the best teachers back then. Rich lacked that, he was self-taught.
Overall, I agree with this statement about both of them. Buddy is power and bluster and predictability, Joe is finesse and musicality and the unexpected. However, I was quite surprised a while back when I got an album of Buddy's called Blues Caravan (1962) in which he is playing in a sextet. It's very different. Much more musical than his usual playing and he plays as a much more part of the ensemble than the focus. It changed some of my thinking about Buddy. That said, Joe's musicality is, in my view, unparalleled by any drummer and by most other musicians in general.

I think part of what made Joe so great is that he started as a violinist. He was a soloist with the Boston Symphony at age 9 playing Mendelssohn's violin concerto. From what I've read, Buddy wasn't trained as a musician but as a Vaudeville act playing drums. I don't mean this to take anything away from Buddy, but to note that the two musicians have very different starting points and backgrounds that lead to different styles and approaches to music.

As a musician, I much prefer Morello and I think he had more to say musically than Buddy did. They both had amazing chops. But I realized Buddy had a lot more going on musically than I used to think after I heard him outside of the big band--it's all about Buddy--context.
 

taiko

Senior Member
Lots of discussion here about what a great musician Morello was. I'd like to redirect a bit to his choice of gear. He tended to be quite different from other jazz drummers of the time. Didn't play Gretsch, instead using a Ludwig kit more associated with rock drumming at the time. Sizes of the kit were 13/16/22 rather than the smaller bop configurations common with jazz drummers. Paiste 602 cymbals with a bit brighter sound than typical for jazz. Just a very different kit from what was common, although when one actually looks back there are quite a few variations on what is called a "bop" kit (12/14/18 or 12/14/20) today. Larry Bunker played a 12/16/20 kit most of his career.

Then later Morello switched to DW and Sabian, selecting Sabian with the brilliant finish. DW was not typical for jazz drummers, although Peter Erskine also went with DW for a while, but now is with Tama. I think Morello provides a great example of the fact that there is no "right" set-up for jazz.
 
I just stumbled upon this master thesis about Joe Morello on google: https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/57301/PDF/1/play/


TABLE OF CONTENTS

BIOGRAPHICAL OVERVIEW
EARLY YEARS AND MUSICAL TRAINING
BODY OF RECORDED DRUM SOLOS
BREADTH OF INFLUENCEINFLUENCE AS AN EDUCATOR
TEACHING APPROACH
DRUM EQUIPMENT, SET-UP, AND TUNING
INTERVIEW WITH JEAN MORELLO
APPENDIX A - SELECTED WORKS
APPENDIX B - LETTERS TO JOE MORELLO
APPENDIX C - BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDIX D - JOE MORELLO DISCOGRAPHY
 
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newoldie

Silver Member
I just stumbled upon this master thesis about Joe Morello on google: https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/57301/PDF/1/play/


TABLE OF CONTENTS

BIOGRAPHICAL OVERVIEW
EARLY YEARS AND MUSICAL TRAINING
BODY OF RECORDED DRUM SOLOS
BREADTH OF INFLUENCEINFLUENCE AS AN EDUCATOR
TEACHING APPROACH
DRUM EQUIPMENT, SET-UP, AND TUNING
INTERVIEW WITH JEAN MORELLO
APPENDIX A - SELECTED WORKS
APPENDIX B - LETTERS TO JOE MORELLO
APPENDIX C - BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDIX D - JOE MORELLO DISCOGRAPHY

Reading now- what JM fans would be waiting to have. Thanks for sharing!
 
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