Rifftides readers interested in knowing more about the great drummer and arranger Tiny Kahn (discussed in this posting) will find it in Burt Korall’s Drummin’ Men—The Heartbeat of Jazz: The Bebop Years. From Korall’s chapter on Kahn:
His drumming made bands sound better than they ever had before, particularly during his last years when he had all the elements of his style in enviable balance. His time was perfect—right down the center. He wasn’t too tense or too laid-back. Kahn had his own sound and techniques on drums and could be quite expressive, using his hands and feet in a manner that was his alone.
Musicians remember how easy his charts were to perform; they felt right for all the instruments and never failed to communicate and make a comment. His unpretentious writing mirrored his concern for expressing ideas in an economical, telling swinging manner.
Kahn’s intellectual and cultural breadth matched his physical size. The pianist Lou Levy told Korall, “He alerted me to Al Cohn and Johnny Mandel. Kahn-Cohn-Mandel became the three wise men, as far as I was concerned. Tiny also introduced me to Alban Berg and Paul Hindemith.” Korall’s book covers bop drummers from the transitional figures (Jo Jones, Sid Catlett) through the innovators (Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Stan Levey, Shelly Manne) to the important and obscure (Ike Day). Its predecessor volume treated drumming in the swing era with similar scope, detail and insight. Both of Korall’s books belong in anyone’s basic library of books about jazz.
Thanks to artsjournal.com blogmate Terry Teachout for jogging my memory about Drummin’ Men.