Jazz Friday: Buddy Rich’s Channel One Suite

Buddy Rich (Wikipedia) got started playing drums on Vaudeville when he was 18 months old. They called him “Traps the Drum Wonder”. Buddy Rich was an amazing drummer. To this day many drummers of all genres cite to Buddy as one of their primary influences. Buddy was, first and foremost, a drummer.

Buddy was also hot-tempered. He’d go on rants against his band that became legendary when one of his musicians started recording them. I knew that they existed but never actually heard them until the Internet became a thing. You can listen to them here but be warned, they are very explicit. Jerry Seinfeld enjoyed the tapes so much that he took several lines and added them verbatim to Seinfeld scripts. There are a lot of former Buddy Rich band members that defend Buddy, explaining while he was prone to throw a tantrum, he could also be generous. 

Setting all of that aside, long after big band jazz went out of vogue, there was Buddy Rich. He had one of the best touring big bands up until right before his death in 1987. His band played like a barely contained explosion. They could play a note together in a way that would make you feel like you just got slammed against a wall. It was glorious.

The best Buddy Rich big band song (in my opinion) was The Channel One Suite. This may be the apex of big band jazz music. The only way to get the song in iTunes is to buy an entire album, but in fairness it is a pretty great album. You can also just watch it on YouTube.