Every thirty-four years, Frank Derrick records under his own name. His previous album, You Betcha!, was a vinyl LP that he made with his big soul band in Chicago in 1974, the year before he moved his career to New York. Considering how much Derrick has packed into his musical life, it is easy to understand the gap between his recording debut as a leader and this impressive product of his maturity. He’s been a busy guy.
Among those with whom Derrick has worked as a drummer, conductor or composer are The Duke Ellington and Woody Herman orchestras, Arvell Shaw’s Louis Armstrong Legacy Band, Benny Carter, Steve Allen, Eubie Blake, Dorothy Donegan and Ken Peplowski. He was the drummer in the early years of The David Letterman Show on NBC and was Cab Calloway’s drummer for a decade. His show credits include Bubbling Brown Sugar, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Sophisticated Ladies, Big River and Catskills. On the concert stage, he has conducted for John Pizzarelli and Lanie Kazan. He was chairman of percussion at New York’s Henry Street Settlement and is the author of the highly regarded Focus on Technique for Drummers (Hal Leonard).
South Florida is full of retired New Yorkers. Derrick is not one of them. Since he moved south in 1998, he has managed to stay occupied. He is assistant conductor and drummer for the Palm Beach Pops orchestra, following up on his work with the Royal Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic and New York Pops. He is a featured player and conductor with the impressive new orchestra of singer Bob Hoose. Twenty of the best musicians in the Miami area joined Frank for this collection divided between performances by his big band and a stimulating quintet. The CD is a salute to the jazz drum tradition but, reflecting the balance in Derrick’s musical life, he incorporates drum solos judiciously, as elements of the musical fabric.