Sidney Catlett, not yet nineteen, recording in Chicago with Albert Wynn, trombone; Punch Miller, trumpet; Lester Boone, reeds; Alex Hill or William Barbee, piano; Charlie Jackson, banjo: SHE’S CRYING FOR ME, October 1928.
Even given the limited drum kit he could have brought into the studios, two of Sidney’s trademarks are delightfully audible.
The first is his sonic variety: every interlude in this recording, every soloist, is given a different percussive embrace. Sidney never stays on one piece of equipment or produces one sound too long; we (and the musicians) never feel an unrelenting monotony. And his variety never seems artificial, as if he’d laid it all out in advance.
The other trademark is his flexible, springy beat — not accelerating, but urging everyone on, a kind of exuberant “Follow me!”
And they did. And we do.