September 26, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Jazz Ensemble Celebrates Legendary Drummer Buddy Rich

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Jazz Ensemble will celebrate the life of legendary drummer Buddy Rich with a special concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, in Whitehead Auditorium. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.

Born on Sept. 30, 1917, Rich is described as “the greatest jazz drummer of all time,” according to his online biography at He “could play with remarkable speed and dexterity, despite the fact that he never received a formal lesson and refused to practice outside of his performances.”

By the time Rich was 4 years old, he was already a seasoned solo performer, both with his vaudeville act — Traps the Drum Wonder — and on Broadway. His jazz career took off about the time he turned 20 when he began playing with Joe Marsala at New York’s Hickory House. He later joined Tommy Dorsey’s band; performed with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Ventura, Louis Armstrong, and Gene Krupa; appeared on such talk shows as “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and “The Merv Griffin Show” and in Hollywood films; toured with his own bands; opened two nightclubs; and entertained a number of world leaders, including Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, the Queen of England, and King Hussein of Jordan. 

Rich died at the age of 69.

Thursday’s performance lineup will feature “Big Swing Face” by Bill Potts; “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Joe Zawinul, as arranged by Phil Wilson; “Wave” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, as arranged by John LaBarbera; “Norwegian Wood” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as arranged by Bill Holman; “Basically Blues” by Phil Wilson; “Slo Funk” by Bob Mintzer; and “Love for Sale” by Cole Porter, as arranged by Pete Meyers.

Conducted by David Springfield, assistant professor of jazz piano and director of VSU’s Jazz Studies Program, the VSU Jazz Ensemble “is the premier performing jazz ensemble in the jazz area … with a repertoire ranging from Big Band Era standards to contemporary styles and original jazz compositions.” The group has toured Europe and performed with such artists as Marvin Stamm, Dizzy Gillespie, Byron Stripling, Ernie Watts, and more.

Whitehead Auditorium is located on the first floor of VSU’s Fine Arts Building, at the corner of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive.

Contact David Springfield at (229) 333-5805 or to learn more.

On the Web:
  • General VSU Information
  • 229.333.5800
  • Office of Communications
  • 229.333.2163
  • 229.333.5983
  • Campus Address
    Office of Communications Powell Hall West, Suite 1120
  • Mailing Address
    1500 N. Patterson St.
    Valdosta, GA 31698