One of the first records that introduced me to jazz music was that of a drum battle between two amazing drummers. The LP I picked up for about a nickel at a thrift store was “Rich Versus Roach”, which was released in 1959. The record originally came out through Mercury and was produced by Jack Tracy. It runs roughly 32 minutes on the original LP with 8 tracks that were selected for it. The “Rich Versus Roach” CD that was released in 1986 has 12 tracks. While many will prefer the warmth of a vinyl record, it should be noted that the CD versions are quite good, and well worth your time.
“Rich Versus Roach” brings to the surface two styles of jazz recordings, and drumming. Rich has a band and Roach has a band, each one with similar instruments of the jazz age, but you’ll find that Buddy Rich’s speed versus Roach’s technical prowess differ. It gives you a broad range of jazz styles, but with a focus on the harmony and solo work of each drummer at the same time. If you’re familiar with the work of each drummer, then you’ll understand the precision and technical variants that are on display, and if you’re not familiar, then this will at least give you something to tap your toes to.
I for one enjoy “Rich Versus Roach” because of the drum solos that are present as the main dish of a multiple course meal. This is, after all, a drum battle record. You have to remember that when you put this record on for your listening pleasure. I cannot stress that factor enough, it’s meant to be a showcase of the drummers, as much as it is the bands which play through some nice improvisational points.
Buddy Rich and Max Roach each bring to the table their own excellent take on drumming, from hard bop to classical jazz, to a blistering comparison of speed and precision that is so beyond 1959, and yet seems vintage with the warmth of the LP that you will no doubt have to track down used. New pressings are no doubt available, but the tonal quality of the original vinyl release from 1959 holds up well with the 8 regular tracks that you’ll get with “Rich Versus Roach” LP from 1959.
Star Ratings are for suckers, so just listen to the record.
You can purchase “Rich Versus Roach” by clicking here.