I used to play drums for a living. Accordingly, I pay special attention to what the drummer is doing on jazz and rock recordings. What follows, is a list of some of my favorite drumset performances -- in no particular order:
Ringo: Can't Buy Me Love, on A Hard Day's Night, by The Beatles - What a ferocious groove Mr. Starkey sets up with sizzling hi-hats and slamming snare after his floor tom intro. And hardly a fill in sight! As usual on early Beatles recordings, the drums are mic'd to perfection.
Bill Stewart: Hammock Soliloquy, on En Route: Live, by the John Scofield Trio - Most of this piece alternates between a greasy New Orleans 4/4 and a jazz waltz. The drummer's playing is brilliantly imaginative throughout and the song closes with Stewart soloing over muted interjections by his bandmates in six.
Bobby Graham: All Day and All of the Night, on Kinks, by the Kinks on - Bet you thought this was perennial Kinks drummer, Mick Avory's work, but it is , in fact, British studio ace Bobby Graham, who passed away in 2009. The story goes that chief Kink, Ray Davies, taunted Graham into tracking this feral performance with uncomplimentary remarks about his percussion abilities.
Ben Riley: Well You Needn't, on Live at the It Club, by Thelonious Monk - This cut swings about as hard as any I know, thanks to the dialogue between Riley's lilting ride cymbal and his dancing fills on the snare and toms.
Earl Palmer: I'm Walkin', on Antoine "Fats" Domino, by Fats Domino -
Earl Palmer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tony Williams: Water Babies, by Miles Davis - From a drummer's perspective, TW's more fire-breathing workouts are awe inspiring. Here, we have an entire album of Tony Williams, the subtle colorist, which may be equally cool. Messrs. Davis, Corea/Holland/Hancock, Carter, Shorter and Williams elevate communal introspection to new levels.
Mitch Mitchell: Fire on Are You Experienced?, by the Jimi Hendrix Experience - With regard to the drumming, the title of this cut says it all. Whew!