Ian Paice with Cathy Rich & the Buddy Rich Band live at Ronnie Scott’s, London
By Robert Corich.
Full gig run was two gigs a day over six days.
The Accused: As above.
The Scene of the Crime: Top London jazz club.
The Deed: Worlds top rock drummer plays in a jazz band to select audience.
The Charge: Death (of accepted norms) by Drum adventure
The Weapon: Drumsticks
The Motive: Emulation of a musical hero
The Verdict: Guilty on all counts
The Sentence: to be immortalised In Rock (and Jazz)
‘Twas a hot summer's night and waiting in the VIP queue outside the venue whilst awaiting the first show of the day to end one could feel gentle excitement mounting. This was raised somewhat when a possible co-conspirator (or witness to the crime) Ian Gillan sauntered past and joined the queue to take his Place In Line.
Once inside this cosy and classic Jazz House in London’s Soho, we were escorted to a front of house table immediately in front of two rather impressive and imposing drum-kits.
Posh drinks and elegant burgers served, we settled into our seats to await a mystery performance. Subtle jazz maybe? Gentle tunes a possibility? Car crash in the making? Who knew? We certainly had no idea how this most unusual of gigs would pan out. The world's top rock drummer guesting in a jazz band that is still considered to be one of the top acts in its field. Curiosity was killing these cats in the front seats...
Sneaking glances to the sides and the rear confirmed the world's best hard rock singer was seated at a table behind us sipping Champagne. Would he contribute to the action? Or was he here as part of judge and jury just as the rest of us were? Whispers mounted.. we were about to witness our hero hit the skins not three feet in front of us.
Trumpet and Trombone players entered and sat stage left, joined shortly afterwards by other horn players and the saxophonists. Twelve men all dressed in black.
What musical experiment had we stumbled into this time? We were about to see the world's premier rock drummer play in a jazz band. Yikes!
Bass player and keyboard player enter stage right and take their seats. The two impressive drum kits, one a gleaming Ludwig kit and the other a glistening array of Pearl drums, both topped by shiny cymbals and equally impressive additional drum components shimmered in the dim light of this famous church of jazz. The Tension mounted.
The door to backstage opened and a blond head peered out. Ms Cathy we all suspected. The door closed and moments later out comes -wait for it - who was it looking like Jim Carey with a spiky haircut?
Beaming widely, the entrant sits down behind the Ludwig kit and wham, bam, thank you, mam, man and fan and this guy is whacking the skins just feet away like no tomorrow. A crazy man for sure.
Where is Mr Paice we all wondered fleetingly as this crazy man was whacking the skins and bashing the cymbals harder and faster now. This guy's playing was jaw dropping and he’d only been at it for a few minutes. The band are in full flow and settling into... wait for it...this crazy drummer dude is amazing!
This is really going to make the master work off a few pounds to earn a few pounds that’s for sure!
Crazy mad drummer exits the stage as the enigmatic Ms Rich steps onto the stage to introduce the master and low and behold as he sits down at his impressive kit we are face to face with Mr Paice.
Shades of anticipation in the air, the sticks gently hit the skins. The playing is deft and the image is class. A master is at work here.
The beautiful keyboard playing and the subtle bass lines of Laurence Cottle blend into these beautiful tunes; all of which are augmented by that array of amazing horns and saxophones.
Stunning stuff. We were among a lucky few to witness these amazing shows.
Tune to tune, Ian and his jazz band seamlessly weaved a web that sucked us all in. You can see that Ian, whilst playing the tunes of his hero and most likely his biggest musical influence, is totally absorbed in this. Incredible to witness. We truly are the lucky ones tonight!
Cathy mounts the stage, again, immediately in front of the dual kits to introduce the band and the two illustrious drummers. Introduced as Gregg Potter, the mask was off on the Jim Carrey lookalike.
The show continued to its climax...
Drums - a - beating and that Jim Carrey guy is back, slipping seamlessly into his seat to play wingman to the master as they slowly but surely work up the beat. A beat and a half indeed. Then like two sympatico beating hearts, these two amazing drummers start to gently duel it out. Better just got better than better...
Thundering drums, jazz to rock, and several permutations in between these two skin bashing geniuses who are in the throws of a frenzied drum masterclass. None of us has seen anything like it. These two skin-beaters became ‘Perfect Strangers’ indeed.
I'm truly lucky to have witnessed the master of the skins perform with these amazing musicians; whilst honouring the music and the mastery of the brilliant Buddy Rich.
Add to that for all that came to see Ian Paice up close and personal, we were, almost without exception, honoured to be here and lucky enough to witness, this very night, one of only twelve intimate gigs in this historical setting honouring the life and musical times of the genius that was Buddy Rich.
A small after-show gathering consisted of a few select music biz people and Ian Gillan, himself, proudly sporting Buddy’s famous medallion. Earlier gigs had Rod Stewart, Roger Taylor of Queen and more attending.
Live rating: 10 stars out of 10
Gregg Potter played:
Dancing Men by John LaBarbera, Harco Shuffle by Matt Harris.
Just In Time by Jule Styne.
Up Jumped Spring by Keith Bishop.
Why Bother by Matt Harris.
The Trolley Song arranged by Matt Harris.
Nutville by Horace Silver.
Cathy Rich sang:
Twisted by Annie Ross and John Hendricks.
Beat Goes On by Sonny Bono.
Ian Paice played:
Pick Up The Pieces by Roger Ball and Hamish Stuart.
Celebration by Don Piestrup.
Basically Blues by Phil Wilson.
Mercy, Mercy by Joe Zawinul.
Norwegian Wood by Lennon & McCartney.
Ian Paice and Gregg Potter played:
Keep The Customer Satisfied by Paul Simon.