Artist: Buddy Rich and his band
Title: Mercy, Mercy (Live at Caesars Palace)
Label: World Pacific Jazz / Liberty Records
Musicians: Buddy Rich-Drums, Walter Namuth-Guitar, William Prince, Al Porcino, Kenneth Faulk, David Culp-Trumpet, Jim Trimble, Richard Stepton, Peter Graves-Trombone, Don Menza, Art Pepper, Charles Owens, Pat LaBarbera, John Lewis-Sax, Joe Azarello-Piano, Gary Walters-Bass
Producer: Richard Brock
Engineer: Bill Porter
This record was recorded live at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. In the liner notes Buddy Rich said, “This was the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Mercy Mercy Mercy – The sound of this track is typical of the time and includes some whimsy. The dynamics are great and MR. Rich keeps things rolling along laying down a solid rhythm and beat. It illustrates the tone, style and tension of a Don Menza performance. The arrangement was written by Phil Wilson who used to play in Woody Herman’s band.
Preach and Teach – According to the notes in the album, this is a bright, gospel-like, waltz-time blues arranged by Don Sebesky. To me it is more like a Brubeck style number which is led in by the drums. There is also a difficult time break in this song and you hear the strength of Buddy Rich’s drumming.
Channel 1 Suite – Sounds kind of like something you hear with a crime action/drama TV movie from the seventies to me. It is the longest song on the album clocking in at almost 13 minutes. From the notes: This is an original work by Bill Reddie, the Las Vegas writer whose West Side Story medley has been the most requested number. It’s a suberbly organized work in terms of pacing, changes of tempo, meter and mood. Written in three movements, In the second movement Don Menza (sax) takes a long unaccompanied solo. The third movement, a minor 16-bar statement (per the notes) includes a drum solo.
Big Mama Cass – The notes say nothing about Mama Cass from The Mamas & Papas, so it’s unknown if there is any reference to her. I’d like to think it’s a tip of the hat though.
Goodbye Yesterday -After a light textured opening, it builds into a fast 3/4 tempo. This sounds like a filler track at first listen, but it’s one of the better numbers on the LP, so it is not “filler”.
Acid Truth – This is described by Buddy Rich as “a shouting blues”. You could call this acid-blues (is that a sub-genre?). The brass section makes it sound like a burlesque stripper may jump out of the speakers any minute.
Alfie – This is a cover of Burt Bacharach with a different interpretation. I like the original better though, but that’s just me.
Ode To Billy Joe – This is a cover of the famous Bob Gentry song that has been covered by other artists and popular during that time. Here it is played unexpectedly fast and with intensity. Of course this one also includes the obligatory drum solo towards the end.
This is one of the very well recorded (and quietest) live LP’s I’ve heard. It may have likely been recorded by direct feed into the board as not much of the audience is heard. This may also be due to not having microphones tuned to pick up the audience intentionally. The staging is kind of on the narrow side for a live LP as well. It sounds like there was a lot of studio mixing done. However, if you listen real close you will hear Buddy Rich count off the start of a few songs.