Jazz Icons: Buddy Wealthy features the relentless power and unparalleled artistry of the man who was once referred to as Â”The WorldÂ’s Greatest Drummer.Â” This 75-minute concert, taped in Holland in 1978, showcases some of the tightest big bands in history, featuring acclaimed saxophonist Steve Marcus and other members of BuddyÂ’s Â”Killer Force,Â” the group he would later call Â”the most efficient band I ever had.Â” Standout performances include Â”Grand Concourse,Â” Â”Big Swing Face,Â” and Â”Channel One Suite,Â” which features BuddyÂ’s jaw-dropping drum solo.
Together with his fiery polyrhythms and large-than-life persona, Buddy Wealthy was once the last of the big-band drummers. This blistering 75-minute date from Holland (in 1978) features Wealthy’s Killer Force ensemble (named after a Clint Eastwood movie). With saxophonists Steve Marcus and Gary Pribeck, trumpeter Mike McGovern, and trombonists Glenn Franke and Dale Kirkland as the principle soloists, Wealthy drives his men through eight selections of no-nonsense, straight-ahead jazz, which includes Sal Nestico’s “You Gotta Try,” John La Barbera’s waltz, “Best Coast,” and a melancholic rendition of Thelonious Monk’s immortal ballad, “‘Round Nighttime.” The Weather Report hit “Birdland” is given a run for its money, thanks to Wealthy’s riveting rhythms, and the “Channel One Suite” features his best extended solo. The DVD is augmented by an informative 20-page booklet, which incorporates a Down Beat interview with Mel Torme, where Wealthy states, “I like to think about my solos as telling a story.” Thanks to this document, new generations get to see and hear Wealthy’s syncopated stories told through his relentless artistry in motion. –Eugene Holley, Jr.