This spe­cial round Gretsch badge has a con­nec­tion with the late Benny Good­man and Woody Her­man drum­mer Sonny Igoe

Rhythm - - GEAR REVIEW - Words: Ge­off Ni­cholls pho­tos: Si­mon John Show

Sonny Igoe was a well-re­garded Amer­i­can drum­mer, with cred­its rang­ing from big and small jazz bands to stu­dio and TV house bands. He also taught and wrote a re­ally use­ful, log­i­cal book called GetYourFills

To­gether, un­rav­el­ling the art of big band set-ups. Who­ever nicked my copy (years ago), can I have it back? Sonny even in­spired his son Tommy Igoe to be­come a su­perb big band leader and ac­claimed ed­u­ca­tor too.

This month’s kit be­longs to Garry All­cock who is al­ways keen to pre­serve leg­endary, older drum­mer’s gear for pos­ter­ity. Hav­ing said that, this is a made-up kit, and is a good il­lus­tra­tion of how pa­tience can re­ward the en­thu­si­ast who is will­ing to keep his/her eyes open over a pe­riod of years.

Garry tells the story: “I bought the ba­sic kit in the late 1990s from a small mu­sic shop in Hinck­ley. It was just a 20" bass drum, 13"x9" tom and match­ing wooden snare, but no floor tom. I re­alised when I took the bass drum apart that it was not a Gretsch shell, although it had the match­ing wrap in 75th (1883-1958) An­niver­sary Di­a­mond Sparkle. The small tom and snare drum were orig­i­nal.

“A cou­ple of years later, when at the Chicago Drum Show help­ing Rob Cook set up, Doug and Dave Car­ring­ton came in with a load of ‘or­phan’ drums for the Con­ces­sions Stall. And would you be­lieve it, a match­ing

“Af­ter Sonny Igoe passed away his son Tommy cleared out his dad ’s st udio and sold off a lot of dr ums ” Owner, Garry All­coc k

16"x16" floor tom ap­peared, which I straight­away bought for 200 bucks.

“Af­ter Sonny Igoe passed away his son Tommy cleared out his dad’s stu­dio and sold off a lot of drums.Dave Jeans in Scot­land bought a 22"x14" bass drum in Di­a­mond Sparkle. He knew I had the match­ing set and he rang me to see ifI wanted an­other bass drum. He was also look­ing for Gretsch spare parts, so we did a swap, which suited us both per­fectly. I then had a com­plete, match­ing (and gen­uine) four drums in An­niver­sary Di­a­mond Sparkle: 22"x14" bass, 13"x9" tom, 16"x16" tom and 14"x5½" snare.” The snare is a Name Band model and the four drums to­gether make up what was called the Name Band Out­fit in Gretsch’s 1958/61 cat­a­logues.

Dave Jeans also told Garry that: “The bass drum came di­rectly from one of Sonny’s stu­dents who is an Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor now liv­ing in Lon­don. He said Sonny used this drum in his teach­ing base­ment. There were other match­ing toms and snare, but he only bought the bass drum. He said that Sonny had quite a few drums in this fin­ish.I have no idea if Sonny played it out live, but it’s very pos­si­ble.”

Garry con­cludes: “I had a new front head done for the bass drum to show the kit off, but re­ally it is only the bass drum that has the Sonny Igoe con­nec­tion.”

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