Saturday, March 8, 2008

Barrett Deems

Rob Hardy posted a video of Joe Morello, which brought back pleasant memories.

As a teen, I idolized Joe Morello, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey. But I never met any of them. I did meet Barrett Deems, though. Barrett was billed as the fastest drummer on earth, although I think several jazz drummers from the 40s and 50s laid claim to that title.

Here are two clips of Barrett Deems. This one is from a movie entitled "Rhythm Inn" circa 1951:

Deems was showing off a little bit.

This one is from a Louis Armstrong tribute concert 30-some years later (1984):

The bass player is Arvell Shaw. Nice.

I met Deems near the end of his career. He was playing in a quintet lead by Jack Teagarden. Deems was 50 years old, which seemed ancient to me at the time. The group played a concert in my little home town mainly because Teagarden was there to visit the Conn band instrument company. He was a Conn spokesman and came to town now and then to pick up a new trombone and have his picture taken for Conn's advertising.

As it turned out, my mother knew the piano player, Don Ewell. She had sung with him when they were both members of an Army Air Corps big band during WWII. So we got to go backstage and meet the band. I cared only about meeting the drummer. He was about as bored as I was excited, but he was nice. Didn't get an autograph or a souvenir drum stick, but that's OK.


Rob Hardy said...

Fabulous video clips! Thanks.

Christopher Tassava said...

Yeah, great clips! A bit showy for my taste, but good drumming all right.

Jim H. said...

Morello was the epitome of cool. And his solo (the clip posted on Hardy's Rough Draft) was in 5/4 time, too!