There's something very old-school TV variety show-esque about this past week's "Drum Solo Week" feature on the Late Show with David Letterman.
I grew up watching some of the best drummers under the sun get a crack at it on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. With Ed Shaughnessy banging it out every night in the Tonight Show band and guests like Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson making repeat appearances through the years, Johnny's love of drumming -- a drummer himself -- greatly informed my appreciation of hitting things with sticks very early on.
It was with similar enthusiasm that the greatest in the biz were invited to show their skills for a segment each night this week on David Letterman, a rare chance to strictly just expose the aplomb and abilities of a performer outside of the typical self promotional imperative usually reserved for musical guests on the Late Show and other shows like it.
Starting off the week fittingly was longtime Letterman drummer Anton Fig, with a propulsive piece with Sheila E, one of our last living original be-bop drummers Roy Haynes, and every drummer's hero, Rush's Neil "The Professor" Peart rounding out a great week of snare rolls, paradiddles, tom fills, cymbal crashes and of course a ubiquitous Anthony Weiner gag.
Weiner's peener jokes or not, let's hope "Drum Solo Week" becomes more of a tradition on Late Show.
Late Show drummer Anton Fig
Ed Shaughnessy vs. Buddy Rich on the Tonight Show, 1978.