Sunday, January 12, 2020

Various Artists - 1994 "Burning For Buddy" A Tribute To The Music Of Buddy Rich

In 1994, Neil Peart produced this Buddy Rich tribute album featuring tracks from various prominent drummers, all accompanied by the Buddy Rich Big Band.  The compilation of course also features Neil Peart on drums, adding his part to Cotton Tail.

Burning for Buddy, Volume 1 is a 1994 Buddy Rich tribute album produced by Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. The album is composed of performances by various rock and jazz drummers, all accompanied by the Buddy Rich Big Band. A follow-up Burning for Buddy...Volume 2 recording was released in 1997 and both recording sessions were also covered in a 5-hour documentary DVD video released in 2006, The Making of Burning for Buddy.

Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich, Vol. 1 assembles a shifting cast of virtuoso trap-set players sitting in with the Buddy Rich and His Big Band in order to pay tribute to its legendary founder. Some of the musicians come from rock & roll, often with experience in prog rock or rock/jazz fusion (i.e., the Cult/Guns N' Roses' Matt Sorum, Winger/Dixie Dregs' Rod Morgenstein, Rush's Neil Peart, Yes/King Crimson's Bill Bruford). Others made their mark primarily in the jazz world, including Max Roach, Dave Weckl, Billy Cobham, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith, among others. There are also some drummers who are primarily known for their versatile session work, able to play both rock and jazz; while these players' work is almost always competent, they rarely display much individuality. So overall, Burning for Buddy has more of a modern flavor than one might expect.

This is beautiful tribute to a master musician. The material draws from various times in Buddy's career and is produced with great care by Neil Peart. Some may argue that other drummers active at the time of the recording should have been included. For me, I think Tony Williams would have been a great idea inclusion. Regardless, if you are a drummer, a musician, a lover of great American music, this album smokes. The performances are fantastic and live.

The performances are outstanding, and it's very interesting to hear how rock drummers like Neal Peart and, to some degree, Bill Bruford, handle the complex time signatures and rolls from big band jazz. They do quite well! The biggest surprise had to be Matt Sorum, of Guns and Roses fame. He proves that rock pays his bills, but that jazz/fusion is in his blood!!!

Neil Peart:
I really wanted to carefully present the record to a modern audience. Accessibility was always in the forefront of my mind, knowing that many listeners are unfamiliar with the feel of swing.

I always recall the way reggae was first heard in popular music: people were so funny because they didn't know how to dance to it until they got used to the knee action. Swing is like that for some - if you don't know how to react physically it can leave you sort of cold. So the sequencing was crucial. I carefully added hints of swing with each track, and waited until "Cotton Tail" to fully introduce it.

I was like most people of my generation with Buddy. I saw him do "Dancing Men" and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" on the Carson show and they stuck in my mind. They're so dynamic, they'll nail you immediately. People around the project who weren't familiar with jazz responded to them right away during the sessions. It's a matter of presentation. I'm determined to take it beyond the regular audience of Buddy fans.

Honestly, I think this project would have been a lot harder to get done if I didn't have a track record with the company already. [Atlantic Records co-founder] Ahmet Ertegun came down to the studio; he was very interested in it, and in a sense he first planted the seed for this. When Rush signed with Atlantic about six years ago, he came up after a show and pointed his finger in my chest, saying, "I've got to get you playing some jazz." So he predicted it.

This kind of project can be enormously intimidating for drummers, especially if you're unused to the feel of the music. Some stayed in the funk or rock-oriented tracks. But two of the purer rock drummers, Kenny Aronoff and myself, both dove into the most trad-swing stuff we could, because we wanted to make as far a leap as possible. That carries its risks, of course. There are elements of big-band drumming that I just didn't know and you can't necessarily learn them by dissecting the pieces.

There was a great deal of teamwork and unity. The horn players were startled to be asked their opinion! After a take, I'd ask the guys, "How was it for you?" I can't dissect the playing of 15 different musicians as they're wailing. I sat and listened to the horns a lot, even tried ignoring the drummers a bit by sitting in a place where I couldn't see them. I had to forego those free drum lessons.

All the drummers in my generation started from two sources: Either they saw The Gene Krupa Story, which was my route, or they saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and wanted to be Ringo. You can listen to most drummers and figure out immediately which is which. There's a major difference.

Track listing / Performers

01    "Dancing Men" – 6:37 Drums performed by Simon Phillips
02    "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" – 5:09 Drums performed by Dave Weckl
03    "Love for Sale" – 4:30 Drums performed by Steve Gadd
04    "Beulah Witch" – 4:28 Drums performed by Matt Sorum
05    "Nutville" – 5:09 Drums performed by Steve Smith
06    "Cotton Tail" – 4:36 Drums performed by Neil Peart
07    "No Jive" – 5:46 Drums performed by Manu Katche and Mino Cinelu
08    "Milestones" – 5:03 (composed by Miles Davis, arr. Herbie Phillips) Drums performed by Billy Cobham
09    "The Drum Also Waltzes, Pt. 1" – 1:04 Drums performed by Max Roach
10    "Machine" – 3:46 Drums performed by Rod Morgenstein
11    "Straight, No Chaser" – 3:39 Drums performed by Kenny Aronoff
12    "Slow Funk" – 5:33 Drums performed by Omar Hakim
13    "Shawnee" – 3:06 Drums performed by Ed Shaughnessy
14    "Drumorello" – 3:11 Drums performed by Joe Morello
15    "The Drum Also Waltzes, Pt. 2" – :44 Drums performed by Max Roach
16    "Lingo" – 4:31 Drums performed by Bill Bruford
17    "Ya Gotta Try" – 3:18 Drums performed by Marvin "Smitty" Smith
18    "Pick Up the Pieces" – 5:38 Drums performed by Steve Ferrone

Band personnel:

    Bass – Chuck Bergeron
    Guitar – Bill Beaudoin, Chuck Loeb, John Hart
    Piano – Jon Werking
    Saxophone – Andy Fusco, Dave D'Angelo, Jack Stuckey, Steve Marcus, Walt Weiskopf
    Saxophone [Tenor], Flute – Gary Keller
    Trombone – George Gesslein, John Mosca, Rick Trager
    Trumpet – Craig Johnson (2), Dan Collette*, Dave Stahl, Greg Gisbert, Joe Magnarelli, Mike Ponella, Bob Milikan*, Ross Konikoff, Scott Wendholt, Tony Kadleck



  2. Saw buddy rich in a music store when I was 16yrs old. I was a high school jazz band member and was excited to say hello. He looked and me and said, f*** you! I've heard all of the road stories and the way he treated other people. The man doesn't deserve any tributes as far as I'm concerned. A nasty, horrible "human being"!

  3. Thank you!!. Thanks to you, I started listening again after 20 years!