"The late Don DeMicheal (one of jazz music's foremost writers, and a fine drummer as well) once wrote about this session calling it "this drum lover's dream come true". DeMicheal went on to say that the two drummers are heard "throwing ideas back and forth as if engaged in a mad, joyous tennis match. And how they inspire each other".It is certainly a great tribute to the greatness of both Mr. Rich and Mr. Roach, that here we are 46 years after this remarkable session was recorded, and the album is still the subject of a much heated debate among jazz fans, drummers, as well as students of jazz (as can be witnessed in many of the reviews found here), with many praising the drummer who is their favorite and (very sadly) putting down the drummer who is not their favorite.The truth is that BOTH Mr. Roach AND Mr. Rich DESERVE to be called CHAMPIONS! Both have given so much to jazz! Yes indeed they both have different styles, but isn't that what makes jazz music such a art form?For those of you who are interested in reading a SERIOUS analysis of this recording (and not just the childish remarks of "my favorite is better than your favorite"), I suggest that you go to your nearest research library and try and locate a copy of the March 24, 1966 issue of DOWN BEAT. It contains a very interesting notated analysis of two of the tracks from this great recording (completely transcribed), by drum authority Rupert Kettle. (For those who do not know, Mr Kettle has written much about drumming throughout the years in many publications including SOUND & FURY, MODERN DRUMMER, as well as DOWN BEAT).As Mr. Kettle points out in the article (on page 19), "The 1959 Mercury album presents the playing of possibly the finest representatives of their respective approaches and at the same time presents both men as mature musicians, at the height of their creative and technical powers".I feel that jazz fans and drummers on both sides of this debate would do well to read this article. Mr. Kettle enjoys, understands and appreciates the playing of both Mr. Rich and Mr. Roach, as do I.So to the people on both sides of this debate, I say, take the time to find this article, it will help you to understand the playing of BOTH of these drumming greats much better than reading most of the childish comments that I am again sorry to say have been posted here.I will sum up this remarkable album by again quoting Mr. DeMicheal when he wrote that "the winner is the listener"."
Hardcore Drum Porn
Kevin Nieman | 08/08/1998
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an album for drummers and extreme drum lovers only, who would likely give this record five stars. All others would be advised to consider Buddy's work with Dizzy Gillespie for jazz music which is better rounded. Max's fans should seek out Sonny Rollins' 1958 classic Saxaphone Collossus. "Figure Eights" is a drums-only track which showcases Buddy's blinding speed an Max's resourcefulness on the toms. The artists play no-frills, four piece set ups, so what you get is a 64 minute blast of drum set virtuosity without any gimmicks. Recorded in the 50's, both artists are at the top of their form. So who wins this drum battle? Buddy's the better technician, but Max is the better musician."
Showcase of two great drummers
Victoria Tarrani | Betwixt FL and CA, USA | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD has a superb selection of music performed by the entire ensemble. Each selection allows two great drummers with widely contrasting styles to exhibit their own interpretations of the music. To that end it is not only music to enjoy, but an opportunity for drummers of all genres to hear more than one way to approach music. It is also filled with technique, regardless of musical style or preferred genre.
One thing to note is in any CD (or video) of "drum battles" between the older legends, such as Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Gene Kruppa, etc., the drummers are not competing with each other as much as showcasing. That generation of drummers each had an established niche based on their styles and approach to drums, and in interview after interview with the likes of Rich, Kruppa and others they were always complementary towards and respectful of other drummers.
What I especially like about this CD is it provides a rare glimpse into Roach's playing in a number of sets designed to showcase his drumming. I never tire of listening to Buddy's amazing speed and rhythm, but I cannot get enough of Roach and only wish there were more recordings (audio and video) that focused on his drumming.
If you're a drummer you have a rare opportunity to listen to two great drummers approach music from two widely diverse directions with consumate skill and flawless playing. If you are not a drummer, this CD is still valuable because the music is great and to be savored."
Don't count Out Gigi!!
Il Dottore | Buffalo, NY | 01/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't agree with the consensus that there isn't good music here. True, drums are dead-center in this set. But Gigi Gryce arranged all the music and it is all beautiful. Listen to Phil Woods backed by Rich go up against S. turrentine backed by Roach and tell me that this isn't exciting music. Moreover, the drums engage in fascinating dialogue more than straght out competition. Liston to sing sing sing, a beautifully full and rich statement of the theme frames two extended solos, first Rich's break neck snare work and then Max's more thoughtful and complex rythms (his use of silence and space is striking in relation to Rich's relentless roles). Ultimately Roach makes Rich looks a bit simplistic and outdated, but Rich's speed keeps him in the running, and throughout the music they swing away. I'm not a drummer and i give it 5 stars as a great overlooked classic."