September 30, 2004 would have marked the 87th birthday of one of the finest drummers ever to grace a jazz stage. PBS producer, Ron Della Chiesa
refers to Rich as "the Caruso of drummers" and he’ll get no argument from most jazz listeners over 50.
The content of this CD has never been issued in any form and should be snapped up by the late drummer’s many fans. Recorded by Buddy Rich himself while on a 1977-8 tour of the west coast, this high school concert is a laid back classic performance. The album derives its title, No Funny Hats
from a quotation the drummer once spouted during an interview. "Jazz is an American classic, and therefore we present it as such, without tricks, nonsense, funny hats and funny hair."
The session was recorded at a high school in Sacramento, CA on March 1, 1978. The full personnel of the 15 piece unit is unknown but the featured soloists from the five man reed section are documented plus the talented pianist Bob Kay
. As was his style, Rich didn’t predetermine a set in advance. He had the uncanny ability to read his audience and call off the numbers as the concert progressed. Named "The Killer Force" by their flamboyant leader, this young band was capable of turning even a hostile audience in their favor. The opener, Grand Concourse
lifts the audience immediately and then the band exhausts them with killer version of the swing classic Bugle Call Rag
with a showy drum vignette by Rich. It’s a barn burner! If asked to pick a favorite tune, I’d lean heavily toward Slow Funk
for originality and some wonderful sax and rhythm section efforts. Rich opens the ten minute version of West Side Story Suite
with some very tasteful drumnastics and then runs into a lengthy and spectacular solo as only he could. The music is both exciting and inventive.
This is a "must have" album for the dedicated Buddy Rich fan and most other big band devotees as well.