true gripes; jazz drummers

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The Independent Online
I've always thought that jazz music is dead boring, but it wasn't until the other night that I realised why. I was sitting in a pub with my friend Tony, and over in the corner there was a jazz band working its way through the usual repertoire. I could see that Tony was getting agitated about something. Suddenly he got up and strode over to the drummer, shouting: "Hit the bloody things!'' The band stopped playing, and after a brief discussion took the usual jazzers' way out by "taking a break for a few minutes". We left shortly afterwards.

Tony had a point though. This drummer had been scraping his drumkit with a pair of brushes all night and hadn't even touched his sticks. Most jazz drummers seem to be like this. It is as if they are afraid of making too much noise. It would be better if they did, just so they could drown out the tuneless saxophones.

I know jazz is supposed to be all mellow and moody. That's why they only have a tune at the beginning and end of each number: the middle is left to look after itself. Meanwhile the drummer rattles along in the background. The only way you can tell what part of a song they are at is to look at the musicians' beer glasses. If they are almost empty you can guarantee the "tune" will soon be at an end.

I've only ever seen one jazz drummer who laid into his kit with any commitment and that was the Action 'Ardnut Tommy Chase. He played around London quite a bit a few years ago, and would bash his way through an entire set, while regularly falling out with his band, the management and half the audience, too. They just couldn't get used to his aggression.

Tommy was the honourable exception who proved the rule: jazz is boring because they don't hit the drums hard enough. That's why rock'n'roll is better. OK, so some heavy metal drummer from Birmingham might not have the supple wrists of the jazz "greats", but at least you can hear him. And he doesn't just drink a few pints of real ale during the "jazz evening". He has beer, in cans, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea. Not to mention the drugs. And the wrecked hotels. Which is why the world was a better place when Keith Moon, John Bonham and Ginger Baker were still alive. Oops, sorry Ginger.