Saturday, 29 November 2014


As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is drum solos (of the 1950s).

Foolishly extending my trilogy of blogs about drumming into a trilogy of four, here (in chronological order) are my top 5 drum solos of the 1950s.

1. Drum Boogie - Gene Krupa 1952

Gene Krupa was really the first super-star drummer, who brought the drums from their traditional time-keeping role and into the limelight as a solo instrument. This solo at the end of Drum Boogie, from 1952's Drum Battle at JATP, captures his extraordinary energy. It's his poor old snare I feel sorry for. 

2. Buddy's Blues - Buddy Rich 1955

Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa would famously play drum battles, but they were ultimately pointless because it was impossible to work out who had won. Together, they recorded the album Krupa & Rich in 1955, featuring this unbelievably fast solo from Rich. Buddy's Blues sounds like the work of a drummer with way more than 4 limbs.

3. Oscalypso - Art Blakey 1957

From his 1957 album Drum Suite, Art Blakey's Oscalypso is an irresistibly elusive piece of music. Exotic rhythms combine with twanging guitars to create a strange and immersive atmosphere. The recording was originally intended as a run-through, but Blakey ended up using it on the record. And you can see why.

4. Drum-A-Mania - Jack Costanzo 1958

The great bongo player Jack Costanzo, AKA Mr. Bongo, is now 95 years old and cooler than anyone you know, young or old. He closes his 1958 album Latin Fever with Drum-A-Mania, a blistering two-minute bongo solo. And by blistering, I mean seriously, get that man some Savlon.

5. Take Five - The Dave Brubeck Quartet (Joe Morello) 1959

Take Five, from Dave Brubeck's 1959 album Time Out, is known for its fantastic 5/4 time signature, catchy piano hook and cool sax melody. Not only is it one of the greatest jazz pieces ever written, it features an unpredictably choppy drum solo from Joe Morello. I don't have a joke to end on. It's just a great song.