Rich vs Roach – 4/5
Rich vs. Roach, God vs God, both jazz drummers pairing up for an epic battle of the titans, combat between two of the greatest drummers to have ever graced the earth – irrespective of genre – this should be every drummers wet dream. On one hand, the more aggressive Buddy Rich, an example of which can be found here and on the other Max Roach, the brilliant and unconventional drummer who plays with a soft passion for the instrument, found here, if there are still drummers reading this and haven’t reached for the download link, now would be a good time.
So now the question becomes, how does it fare for those not obsessed with the drums? The short answer is pretty damn well. It seems that they realised that an album with just drums would quickly develop into a case of over the top technical and brilliant drumming, such that only other drummers could enjoy it. Instead, great piano, saxophone and trumpet lines can be heard throughout. Though don’t get me wrong, this isn’t so much a jazz album with a good helping of drum solo’s, this is a collection of drum solo’s with a healthy dollop of jazz.
But even the drums themselves are done brilliantly. Diverse like you wouldn’t have believed, soft, aggressive, bombarding you with tones, clever use of hi-hats and cymbals, most albums go without the creativity these guys have squashed into each individual track, and what makes this all the more impressive is the degree to which they were all improvised. Featuring multiple versions of the same track, they do battle, Rich blasting out of the left speaker with all out fury, and Roach out of the right, using his creativity to counter it, quick and upbeat transitioning into the slower softer side where Roach excels, continued again by Rich back into the intense style he more commonly adopts this reaches me as all out warfare, each man trying to outwit, outsmart and outplay the other.
This is an album that even 40 years since its release has sparked debate over the greater of the two. After repeated listening, contemplation of each of the musicians and their other works, I realised the answer to this question becomes simply a matter of opinion. What is however fact, is that they should both be remembered as legends in their own right.
Highlights: Sing,Sing,Sing (alternate version), Figure Eights, Limehouse Blues
P.S. If anyone’s wondering, I prefer Buddy Rich :p
By T. Bawden