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'The heartbeat of the bandstand'

Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition Finals
at the Kennedy Center, with a focus on honoree, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The accompanying photo and text ("...pounded away on tom-toms and cymbals — quite creditably...") make it sound like a real performance. There's no video of Sunday's event, but YouTube does have a bit from February with the same cast of characters (drop in around 3:23 to see what it's about).

The New York Times explains, "And in a coordinated shtick, Ms. Albright joined the trumpeter Chris Botti on a version of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” hungrily attacking a cymbal with a pair of mallets." That sounds more like it.

That NYTimes Critic's Notebook item is worth reading, with some fun drum language. ("He had a light but authoritative touch, bringing deep pull to the swish and snap of his brushes on the snare. ")

The actual winner of the competition, by the way, is a guy named Jamison Ross. He's no Madeleine Albright, but here's best bit of video I could find of him:

See also 2:30 here for Ben Riley's snare solo, 1966 (warning, old jazz video rabbit hole ahead).