JJ 01/70: Buddy Rich And His Orchestra in concert in London

Ron Brown reviews a 'muscular' show by the drummer's 1969 band. First published in Jazz Journal January 1970

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After the interval during his first show at the New Victoria, Buddy Rich quoted from a note that had been sent backstage by a member of the audience. Referring to the anonymous gentleman as an ‘idiot’, and dismissing his charges of unsubtlety and excessive loudness, Buddy announced his willingness to hand over the writer’s ticket-money, plus a ‘rap in the mouth’, if he cared to follow his note back­stage.

Well, the unlikely event of a meeting be­tween Buddy and myself would obviously invite the same violence, because I found the band unsubtle and over loud. This is not to say that the orchestra has failed on its leader’s terms: ‘It’s loud because I dig it loud’, said Buddy, ‘and this isn’t a subtle band, it’s a jazz band’. So Mr. Rich is playing what he likes, even though I still hope that his apparent implication that jazz and subtlety are mutually exclusive was unintentional.

…mine seemed to be one of the very few unblown minds in the place

In a band which included our own Malcolm Griffiths, who occupied the limelight once on trombone, Richie Cole on alto and Pat LaBarbara on tenor soloed at length with invention, swing and rock-hard tones. Another Englishman, Rick Laird, played bass guitar, an instrument whose seemingly inevitable stodginess has rarely sounded good in a jazz context; on top of that, his solo sounded badly out of tune, but the audience went wild with delight, so maybe I was wrong.

It goes without saying that Rich’s superb drumming was at every moment the driving force behind his men, but for me a whole concert of this kind of assault is a bit much. However, I must em­phasise the tremendous reception the band was given; mine seemed to be one of the very few unblown minds in the place.
Ron Brown