This week I’ll be linking to some classic Downbeat interviews. Here is a long and funny 1978 interview with drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich conducted by singer and composer/arranger Mel Tormé. From the piece, here are the two discussing the connection between drumming and tap dancing:
Tormé: Chick Webb, Ray Baduc, Gene Krupa, Ray McKinley—all those guys—were superior drummers in their own ways, but none of them were very daring. They didn’t incorporate bass drum and snare drum as alternate sounds. You’re the first guy that ever did that, I think. Do you feel that your tap dancing talents are the reason that you’re able to communicate between bass drum and snare drum, and tom toms and the rest of them, better than other drummers?
Rich: Tap dancing in the true sense is rhythmical dancing, right? I hate to say that you have to be born with it, but you don’t learn how to be a jazz tap dancer. Baby Laurence was the daddy of jazz tap dancers. The Conners brothers, Bunny Briggs, Buck and Bubbles, Bill Robinson—I would bet that if that they wanted to and picked up a pair of sticks, they could have been outstanding drummers. It’s that kind of feeling, that time thing.
Click here to read Rich & Tormé = Wild Repartee
— Peter Blasevick