Steve Fidyk: Red Beats

Rich, Bellson and Hanna inspired drummer leads richly scored sessions featuring top players from the Rich, Basie and Ferguson big bands


Steve Fidyk, who has studied with Joe Morello and Ed Soph, is currently a faculty member at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His approach to big band drumming reflects his own personal favourites from the genre: Buddy Rich, Sonny Payne, Louie Bellson, Ed Soph and Jake Hanna.

He has written all the music for Red Beats, which features alumni from the Buddy Rich, Count Basie and Maynard Ferguson big bands. Clearly top-drawer performers, they are able to interpret the most challenging scores, which is what we have here. Apart from their reading skills, they count superior soloists in each section. 

The exciting Bebop Operations is book-ended in Supersax style with a glorious sax-section soli. It features strong solos from trumpeter Tim Leahey and multi-instrumentalist Walt Weiskopf, here limited to just his tenor. Organist Brian Charette and the leader playing Bobby Colomby-like fills create a Blood Sweat & Tears vibe on the funky Flip Flopper. Trombonist Kevin Cerovich impresses here with a swaggering couple of choruses.

There is a lot happening on Untimely, which has brief segments in 5/8 and 7/8 just to keep everyone on their toes. It is based on Just In Time with two expertly performed solis – one by the trumpets and one by the soprano-led saxes. Every band should have a star tenor-man but this one has two – take a bow, Xavier Perez. Gaffe is another contrafact, this time based on What Is This Thing Called Love. Tim Leahey and Joseph Henson on alto stretch out inventively for three choruses each.

This stimulating CD was recorded during several sessions in 2021 and 2022 and the sleeve reveals 39 musicians performed at different times. Space precludes listing everyone so a selected personnel is shown in the discography.

Bebop Operations; The Flip Flopper; Untimely; Churn; Food Court Drifter; Gaffe; One For T.J.; Loopholes; Good Turns (56.15)
Selected personnel: Tim Leahy, Andrew Carson, Graham Breedlove, Kevin Burns (t); Kevin Cerovich, Harry Watters, Scott Blanke (tb); Joseph Henson (as); Walt Weiskopf, Xavier Perez (ts); Mark Allen (bar); Christopher Ziemba (p); Brian Charette (org); Regan Brough (b); Steve Fidyk (d). Washington D.C. and New York, 2021 & 2022.
Blue Canteen Music BCM 23-01