The Buddy Rich Orchestra must have registered high on the Richter scale as it opened its four-night stand at Blues Alley with "Dancing Men," an arrangement of rockish design and screaming ensemble. But the roar of approval of the SRO audience at the number's conclusion confirmed that volume is still very much in fashion.
This is a young band, but its aggressiveness largely originates in the storm-the-walls approach of the leader, whose unsubtle attack dominated the set except for a ballad feature for tenor saxophonist Steve Marcus, a welcome respite, and several others interludes of calm. Yet there was excitement in the irresistible momentum and in the call-and-response shouting matches between brass and reed sections.
Rich fired off a sax section chorus on Bill Potts' "Big Swing Face" with a single-note explosion that echoed across the club. His showcase solo was in the final movement of baritone saxophonist Keith Bishop's stunning arrangement of "Porgy and Bess," on which Rich's steady left-hand roll with right stick dizzy all over the set attested to his undiminished virtuosity.
The emphasis was upon massed sound but creditable solos were handed in by trumpeter Richard Vitale on Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" and bass trombonist George Gesslein and pianist Lee Musikei on "Porgy."