Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Here's another jazz/rock contrast: jazz drummers make outstanding band leaders, but there has never been a worthwhile rock band fronted by a drummer. Again, I am not sure why this should be, although it may have to do with the difference between rhythm and beat. It is interesting to think about the number of great jazz bands that have been lead by drummers: every edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, each distinctive, each terrific (to say nothing of the quintet with Clifford Brown and Horace Silver he recorded with in 1954); Max Roach and Clifford Brown's terrific quintet; Chick Webb; my personal favorite, Arthur Taylor's Taylor's Wailers. I saw T.S. Monk lead a big band performing his father's music a few years back, and was blown away.

A few years back Dick Judelson was featuring some new releases and played some stuff from Charley Watts' then current big band release. I love Watts' playing with the Stones, (although Judelson was pointedly less enthused), and his jazz work is also interesting and swinging. I guess what I'm getting at is that the role of the drummer is another point of divergence in the American Trinity.

It's not because jazz drummers don't take solos-- they sure do. It is more, I think, that what they do with their solo space is more interesting. Somewhere recently I read Nick Hornby saying that he went out for a pint during John Bonham's solo on "Moby Dick"-- what an excellent plan! I've never bothered getting any Cream on CD because I can't see making the investment in Ginger Baker's "Toad".

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