Sheffield Drum Record
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The drum solo towards the end of "The Maker" on Spyboy by Emmylou Harris. Great drumming on a truly great song. Very nicely recorded too with some super bass.
Buddy Rich's work on the Audio Fidelity SACD "Buddy Rich With The Best Band I Ever Had" (AFZ003) is excellent. This is a very honest drum recording, but maybe not in the "spectacular" category.
I'll second Mickey Hart/Airto "Dafos". It was recorded in a theater in San Fran in the early 80's. I have it on CD released by Referance Recordings and can only imagine how good it must sound on 45 rpm LP.
To qoute the liner, "Consider that the sounds you hear on this album were recorded in a real concert space, not in a studio, were mixed on the spot to two tracks with no overdubbing, artificial reverb or equalization, and marvel at the engineering wizardry of Kieth Johnson."
This has become my reference when auditioning audio gear.
Dave Weckl: Master Plan.
The title track is a nifty panned drum battle between Steve Gadd and Dave that should satisfy even the most primal percussive urges. The recording quality is very decent, as well. check it out
Hell, most Weckl albums are a drum-fest. Take your pick.
If you want an utterly astounding recording of percussion instruments there is a rather difficult to find CD called "Qalam Kar" by Chemirani Trio. It is an Iranian recording of a father-son trio who are masters of the Persian Dumbek. Truly one of the most engaging recordings I own. I have never heard the drum given a 'voice' at it is by these gifted musicians. The recording is also quite excellent, and really shows off a systems soundstaging. I doubt it's exactly what the poster is looking for, but if ou are a percssion fan of any kind, don't miss out on this if you can find a copy.
There is some mighty fine drumming/percussion that is spectacularly well recorded on "Tony Dagradi Trio: Live at the Columns," Turnipseed (don't laugh) Music CD. This is a jazz trio (saxophone, bass, drums/percussion) recorded live in New Orleans in 1993. The music is fine and the sound is state of the art; for a dandy drum set, try track 7. An added small bonus: this is the only CD I've ever seen that carries the following note on the back: "Warning: Contains dynamic range which may damage your stereo, or at least make you want a better one."
1.Dennis Chambers on "Pick Hits Live" by John Scofield (fusion)
2.Steve Smith with "Vital Information" (fusion)
3.Carter Beauford produces great drum sounds for Dave Matthews
Don't overlook the various Jazz Festiival and performance DVD's as they generally cost just a few bucks more than cd's,but you get to see the performance.
More votes for Ed Graham Hot Stix and Dafos. Stunning on vinyl.
Forget Charlie Byrd on Crystal Clear: very dry and not necessarily realistic.
A couple others that come to mind:
Percussion Music on Nonesuch, on HP's list for a long time.
Drum Improvs, sort of an experimental CD-R of a few short cuts of a big drum set recorded live to hard disk by the performer. A little bit of mike splash but otherwise a shocker. Don't know if it's still available. Mail me for info.
Bernard Purdie playing on the track: Sing Sing Sing on Bucky Pizziarelli's "Nirvana" cd - Definitely one-ups Gene Krupas original (IMHO). The drumset is presented non-realistically. taking up the entire width of the soundstage, but that's what makes it fun. Tremendous sonic dynamics and it's on LaserLight, so should be obtainable cheap. The rest of the CD is pretty nice, too.
The most amazing drum recording I've experienced (and this one kills most of the ones listed so far) is from South American metal band Sepultura. I don't recall the name of the album but on that album they play with the Kodo drummers of Japan. The recording is clean, clear and crazy dynamic. This is THE BEST percussive audio workout I know of.
I started this thread months ago and had almost forgotten about it until just recently, when I heard the spectacular drum set to end all spectacular drum sets. A friend who went to CES in January came back with a demo CD from Usher Audio that was evidently being given away at CES. Track two is a seven-minute drum/percussion set, identified only as "Jim Keltner: Improvisation," which will rot your socks. Absolutely amazing, and an audiophile's dream: this has to be the best-recorded percussion set ever. At the end the drummer grunts quite audibly, as if to say "Take that!" I don't know where this track came from; perhaps one of you guys can identify it. But it's well worth seeking out.