Remembering Neil Peart
This transcription is from the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert where Neil Peart played a big band version of the legendary Rush instrumental track “YYZ.” The introduction was conducted and written in 5/4. The main melody is in 4/4, and the B section is in 4/4. Neil plays paradiddles between the ride cymbal and snare, adding fills every four bars. Peart slightly adjusted the drum part and changed his time feel to fit into the big band setting.
Neil became a student of modern-jazz great Peter Erskine prior to the performance to get guidance on filling the drum chair in a big band. You can see Peter giving Peart some suggestions in the special features section of Drum Channel’s 2008 Buddy Rich Memorial Concert. It’s awe-inspiring to observe Neil, a drumming icon, in the role of a student.
Regarding Buddy Rich, Neil said, “Buddy played many styles. I was really interested in the classic swing style because it was the greatest challenge to me. There is such a legacy in the music of Buddy Rich and his incredible ability on the instrument. His intense musicality and excitement, the fire of his playing, and the supernatural hand and feet abilities he displayed are unparalleled and will likely remain so. That’s just something for all of us other drummers to live with. Buddy was the greatest, period. It was wonderful for me to get involved in that music.”