ENTRY #2: Buddy Rich, "Dancing Men" Transcription

Hey gang,

I know it's been a while since the last posting, but life happens and what can you do? I can assure you that tonight's posting is well worth the wait:

time being art.jpg

      What you're looking at right there is Time Being, the gateway drug which introduced me to jazz. There comes a time in every young drummer's life when he or she first becomes aware of Buddy Rich, and they likely don't forget it.

    I was in sixth grade, obsessed with drumming but unaware of what was outside of my little bubble, and was shopping with my mom one evening at Barnes & Noble (RIP). While meandering through the cd section searching for The Who or Rush or Third Eye Blind, it was the happy old man and the cymbals that caught my eye. I put the headphones on, scanned the barcode, and then I heard this: 

    It was just what I'd always hoped to hear yet didn't even know existed. Everything changed. My 11-year-old ears had never heard anything so in-your-face and swinging; Buddy and his band were pyrotechnic. He swung so hard, the horns blew my face off, and the bass player was cooking something hot! "Holy shit," 11-year-old punk-ass me said, hooked. I dropped it in the basket and my awesome mom said, "Okay, Sweetie." I then listened to it many times over the coming years.

This old clipping always cracks me up. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

This old clipping always cracks me up. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

     I always wanted to learn his intro solo to "Dancing Men", but never had the rudimental chops, counting skills or rhythmic understanding necessary to do so. I'd always admired his vocabulary, swing, and confident and authoritative playing on this totally rad-libbed freeform take but it wasn't until I was aged-out of drum corps and almost through with college when I finally gave the transcription a serious effort. Here are three helpful bullet points: 

  • It's an open solo. Unlike most open solos which typically fall into a meter or sort-of groove, Buddy was just swinging and doing his thing. I've broken it into countable segments which I found to outline distinguishable rhythmic checkpoints.
  • Find the stickings that work best for you. Puh-duh-duhs (Rll's and Lrr's) seem to the be the ticket for best nailing the articulation and flow of many of the three-note groupings.
  • The coolest lick takes place the second half of measure 11 and all of measure 12. Tasty linear stuff happening between the kick, floor and snappy. Makes for a great fill.

I hope you enjoy! Check out the rest of Time Being!