I see by the Down Beat musician's poll that Buddy rich is leading the drummers. It might seem strange to you that Krupa isn't way out in front. Well, he's not. As a matter of fact he's not even second. And the reason for this is the fact that Krupa has finally settled down to playing good drums with his band, and quit being a one-man circus. Buddy Rich, on the other hand, is playing flash, technique, and noise, all over the place. He's with Tommy Dorsey now, and he's ruining the Dorsey band just the same way that he ruined Artie Shaw two years ago, and Joe Marsala before that.
It seems that all a drummer has to do these days to get himself recognized is to knock out a few thirty-two bar choruses full of technique and nothing else. I realize that it has a terrific commercial appeal: witness what Krupa's pyrotechnics did for the Goodman band three years ago. But at the same time, Krupa had something else on the ball, an intangible rhythmic sense that makes all the difference in the world between a good drummer and a lousy one. It's all right to play flash now and then. I get a lot of kicks out of a good technician like Ray McKinley when he takes off for twenty minutes while Will Bradley and the boys just sit around and watch. But don't forget that when they start playing again, Ray is right in there driving the band along, giving them a solid rhythmic foundation that you just can't learn in an instruction book. In other words, you've just got to have it in you. Well, Buddy Rich and a lot of drummers like him haven't got it, so they try to make up for it by slamming their way through every tune they play.
Listen to Buddy Rich some time, and then play a record by Lionel Hampton, called Shufflin' at the Hollywood, with Cozy Cole on drums. You hardly hear Cozy on this record, but you can feel the beat, and the way he builds it up. Cozy has a superb sense of phrasing, and everything he does fits in with the band. And this is the point I'm trying to get at : if a drummer doesn't fit in with a band, he's playing flash and is a one-man band himself. This seems to me to be extremely important in jazz music. For drums are naturally the loudest instruments in an orchestra, and consequently a bad drummer can do more harm to a good band than any other musician.
Just ask a musician who his favorite drummer is. The answer will be "Jo Jones" or "Cozy" or "Ray McKinley," It won't be "Buddy Rich." That's for the boys with the crew haircuts and bow ties to whom nothing is music if it's not noise.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES: Four sides by Benny Goodman have finally come out on COLUMBIA, and they're everything you could ask for. First coupling is by the band: Nobody, and Henderson Stomp. Nobody is a swell pop tune sung by Helen Forest, who seems to be more and more influenced by Billie Holiday. The arrangement is very good; ideal for dancing. Henderson is typical orchestration by the arranger for whom the tune was named. Very unpretentious stuff, but the kind that really kicks. Scoring of brass against reed passages reminiscent of the famous chase chorus on Stealin' Apples. Benny's clarinet stars here. The other coupling is by the Sextet, and gives the soloists more opportunity to get off. Tunes are Royal Garden Blues and Wholly Cats. Cootie Williams' muted growl horn stars on Royal Garden, but the outstanding thing about the record is the rhythm section, which is second only to the Count's. As a matter of fact, Basic plays piano here, and shares honors with Artic Bernstein (bass), Charley Christians (electric guitar) and Harry Jaeger (drums). Wholly Cats features the surprise of the year: Georgie Auld off tenor sax. Georgie used to be to the sax what Buddy Rich is to drums. Now he's playing swell horn, modelling his style on 'Coleman Hawkins', and you couldn't ask for a better master.... Dillagene, Woody Herman's new vocalist, does a nice job on Five O'clock Whistle, (DECCA). She's one of the few really good girl singers around these days. Reverse is The Golden Wedding, full of jungle music and tom-toms. Okay if you like that sort of thing.... Somebody by the name of Walter Cross has a piano solo called Creepy Weepy on BLUEBIRD. The label says it's boogie-woogie, but it's not. It's not anything at all, just a mess of inane runs and phrases that don't get anywhere.... The Jimmie Lunceford softball team, fresh from a victory over Benny Goodman's outfit, has challenged the Crimson to a game any time next spring. "You just name the day," says Jimmie.