Drummers need highly-developed skills, sensitivity and an understanding of the structure of the music. It has been said for many decades that good drumming should be 'felt and not heard'. I think that is exactly the effect percussionists should strive for in every performance.
Quite often I have heard drummers failing to stop during a clarinet's two-bar 'break', thereby horribly spoiling the intended effect.
I could give more examples. But I think I have made my point.
You hear bad drummers complain that they are short of gigs. It's no surprise.
Observe that fine young drummer Justin Peake in this video - CLICK ON TO WATCH. You need watch only the first few minutes (they are playing Climax Rag) to get the point. Justin uses a full range of equipment but he does not thrash it. Note the economy of his wrist movements. Blending with John (banjo) and Tyler (string bass), he maintains a rock-steady four-four beat; and he listens carefully to the front line, stopping at the right moments, and using a cymbal gently but effectively to punctuate. He also shows how to support other players really quietly, for example during the banjo solo chorus and during the 'quiet' chorus that Marla signals.
Another tasteful and sensitive drummer based in New Orleans is Benji Bohannon. You can watch him (also with The Shotgun Jazz Band) by clicking on THIS VIDEO. I hope you will enjoy it.
And for another example of how important well-played percussion can be, listen to an extraordinary, historic recording in which the drummer is only eleven years old - BY CLICKING HERE.
And, although this final example is not exactly traditional jazz, try any recording by the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra of the 1920s (plenty are on YouTube) and listen to their drummer Carleton Coon. His playing is always discreet, never obtrusive; and yet it propels the band along. That's the way to do it - 'felt and not heard'!
Reader Carsten Pigott in England has written to recommend Bill Harty (you can hear him in Lew Stone 1933 recordings - on YouTube). Bill could play robustly and energetically in a fast-paced piece but could adjust his style and technique when playing slower numbers, such as Al Bowlly ballads with Ray Noble's Orchestra of the same era. Carsten says 'Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones' drummer since 1963, is on record as saying that Harty was the best percussionist Britain ever produced'.
Reader Barrie Marshall (Lancaster, England) wrote:
Reader Bob Andersen of San Diego wrote:
Reminds me of Baby Dodds line, something like,'' the drummer should be like an idling engine"...