Tuesday, October 18, 2011

let there be drums

I played drums for 50 years, both as a vocation and an avocation, and even though I no longer play, still appreciate those who do as well as the great ones of the past.

Other than Gene Krupa and along with Buddy Rich, probably the most influential pre-Vietnam-era drummer was Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni, better known by his stage name, Louie Bellson. He pioneered the use of double-bass kits and is the only white drummer I know of who ever played with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Here he is soloing in 1957.

By coincidence, or because, as a reliable source told me today, the Italians have always been going into Africa, one of the best two or three drummers in the world playing right now is also Italian. Andrea Vadrucci, born near the little town of Lecce and now residing in Los Angeles, has all of Louie Bellson's intensity, plus his strokes are even more precisely executed than the great master's. I attribute this to the matched grip drummers use nowadays, which is far superior to the unmatched grip all of us used in prehistoric times, before Ringo Starr and the Beatles made their first appearance on Ed Sullivan.

Vadrucci, performing under the name Vadrum, tears up the theme from the video game SuperMario Bros.

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