Buddy Rich: Trios

Rich only played trio within his big-band gigs. This collection shows his ease in the format and spotlights undersung pianist Barry Kiener


An hour and ten minutes of Buddy Rich playing without picking up sticks? Although he never led a trio for live or recording purposes it was, it appears, his regular feature for his pianists, to present a section of each concert as a trio. On these occasions, he only ever played with brushes.

This album offers 10 selections taken from Rich’s live concerts where he presents pianist Barry Keiner along with bassists Joe Burr or Tom Warrington and his brush accompaniment. Keiner died at age 30 of a heroin overdose, something that deeply shocked Buddy, who grieved for some considerable time according to his daughter Kathy.

The music here, not surprisingly, swings compulsively from first note to last. Rich achieves a wide variety of tone colours and controls the music forcefully from the drum stool. Like Art Blakey he didn’t read a note of music but only had to hear a tune all through once to know it completely. And like Blakey he controlled the tempo and dynamics of everything played. There are no long drum solos but almost every track has four-bar exchanges with the pianist, and drum introductions.

Kiener was an impressive jazz piano soloist who played ultra-fast solos with ease. There are plenty of examples on offer. He also played in different tempi on many standards that swing along merrily. His touch was light as a feather, and he was inventive on every track.

The bassists provide a solid grounding although both are over-amplified. Rich had a reputation as a “Big Foot”, drowning out the bass with his bass drum if he didn’t feel the groove was there. He must have been happy with the two men here, judging by the music. Rich came up in the swing era but adapted easily to the current musical style.

Kiener wasn’t very well known but this release shines a light on his talent. It also demonstrates Buddy’s versatility and ease when playing in trio format with just his brushes.

Just Friends; There will Never Be Another You; Like Someone In Love; Groovin’ High; My Romance; Secret Love; I Hear A Rhapsody; Stella By Starlight; There Is No Greater Love; Here’s That Rainy Day (70.00)
Barry Kiener (p); John Burr, Tom Warrington (b); Rich (d). Summer and autumn 1976 & 1977. No locations listed.
Lightyear 0069450704