Buddy Rich was an intimidating figure — or at least some of his peers thought so — because of the man’s relentless musicianship. The intensity of the drums within the songs was off the charts. You can easily see how it could scare other musicians.
Rich alone made a standard like “God Bless the Child” and the title track of this new live CD, “Birdland,” sound new and refreshing. His sense of rhythm kept the straight-and-narrow interesting (“Keep the Customer Satisfied”) and reined in what at first seems to be a runaway train (“Moments Notice”). And it’s not Buddy Rich’s unique musicianship alone. For instance, the soothing quickness of Barry Keiner’s solo piano in “I Hear a Rhapsody” is close to rapturous.
“Birdland” is a series of live ‘70s recordings by Alan Gauvin — saxophonist of Buddy’s band known as the Killer Force. Gauvin recorded these songs to hear himself play with the band. The recordings were done on Gavin’s Sony portable tape deck with various mics set up. Turns out, they laid out perfectly for posterity.
Are the recordings here of perfect sound? Not really. But as Gauvin himself puts it, this is “arguably the most exciting recordings of Buddy’s band ever offered for sale.” And that says it all.