The Buddy Rich Band
    Buddy Rich was probably the finest jazz drummer in the world. His heyday was the heyday of the big bands and of the new jazz. This was mainly the decades of the forties, fifties, and the earlier part of the sixties. His career began much earlier than this, though. He was playing in his parents' vaudeville act back in the twenties, as Traps the wonder drummer. A child prodigy, by the time he was three he was a star; by the time he was eleven, he had his own band. He worked with all of the legends, including Frank Sinatra, and made a number of recordings. My father (George Pritchett) played guitar in his band back in the late 60s/early 70s. The photos in this section were taken a couple of years before the death of Buddy Rich in 1987. This was a performance at the MIller Jazz Oases on the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, during the festival. The band itself was wonderful, and Buddy Rich was, as always, astonishing. It is a sad commentary on the lack of appreciation, and the changing tastes of the public, that this was a secondary stage, rather than the main one. I don't recall who the main stage act was on that summer night so long ago, but I am certain that whatever it might have been, it contained no where near the talent, skill, artistry, or professionalism of the band I photographed on the Miller  stage. This was one of the last of the big bands, and I feel privileged to have been able to hear it live.
    The look, feel, and sound of that evening concert was magical and memorable. It was a rather cool summer night, and this was an out door stage with a large spectator area. Benches and tables fanned out from the stage, and there was the typical selection of beers, refreshments, and outdoor foods being sold by various vendors. People sat, and ,milled around, eating and drinking; enjoying the breeze while waiting for the band to appear. The show was scheduled for 10:00. The band came out a bit early, the various members settling themselves, before starting right on time. Buddy Rich came up to the front, and introduced himself, along with the rest of the band, and then seated himself behind the drums. He began to play, and counted out loud, giving the rest of the band their cue, and then it started. The eating, and most of the drinking stopped, as did all talking and milling around. This is not to say that the crowd became calm, and quiet. Conversation was replaced by an enthusiastic cheering, applause, and encouragement shouted up to the band, and to the individual members during their solos. Those who are used to the electronically amplified music performed by most rock and pop groups these days, can't imagine the power of a big band with a strong brass section. The music is felt as much as it is heard. Considering the quality and intensity of the music being produced up on the stage that night, I am surprised I managed to get any photographs at all, but I did get a few.
    The cameras used were an old Canon FTb, and a Canon A-1, which was considered state of the art at the time. The lenses used were a 50mm F 1.4, a 70-200mm F 4.0, and a 400mm F5.6. The FTb is a manual mechanical camera, and I set the A-1 for manual exposure. I took some spot readings of various parts of the stage, and then turned my meters off, as under these lighting conditions the meters are next to useless. These are some of my favorite pictures, and with the possible exception of Oscar Peterson, and Ella Fitzgerald, this is probably the finest group of musicians I have ever seen.
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A Buddy Rich site/w links Oscar Peterson's sight