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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Louie Bellson Big Band

Concord Jazz CCD2-2158-2 (2CD set budget price)


Disc One

  1. Louie Rides Again
  2. Spanish Gypsy
  3. Back Home
  4. Spaciní Home
  5. Time Check
  6. Hello Young Lovers
  7. Love dreams
  8. Inferno

Originally released as 150 MPH, CCD-4036, 1979

Disc Two

  1. Sambandrea Swing
  2. Deliverance
  3. Concord Blues for Blue
  4. Cinderellaís Waltz
  5. Where Did You Go
  6. Explosion

Originally released as Dynamite, CCD-4105, 1980

Louie Bellson was only with the Duke Ellington band for two years, but he created a tremendous impact during that time. He had previously played with the bands of Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, so he has experienced the best of big bands as a drummer. Louie is much more than just another drummer however, he is a very accomplished composer, arranger and bandleader. Comparisons with Buddy Rich will I suppose have to be drawn, both were very exceptional drummers, but it would appear that their approach to band leading was opposite. Rich drove his band by the thought that anything less than perfection from a sideman, would get him the sack, Bellson lead by example and encouraged the best from his band. Which is best? Well they both worked!

For big band fans this release is a must; it has everything, amazing musical arrangements from the likes of Bill Hollman, Don Menza and Louis Bellson.

Incredible jazz soloists Bobby Shew has always amazed me, he is one of the finest jazz trumpet players around and probably the best big band lead trumpet player ever.

Disc One has some great solos from the late Frank Rosolino on trombone and Nat Pierce of Woody Herman fame on piano. The two tenor soloists Don Menza and Pete Christlieb, have a terrific battle of the tenors on Time Check, I would have preferred less notes and more phrases, but that is just a matter of personal taste; both are brilliant. Bill Hollmanís arrangement of Hello Young Lovers is another outstanding track.

For my money disc two is even better than the first, the excitement of playing live at a Concert during the Concord Jazz Festival of1979 seems to make a band that is already brilliant, get even better. Bellson drives the band along with great assurance and everyone of the soloistís sounds really up for it. Bill Hollman contributes a brilliant arrangement of a fine Bellson ballad called Deliverance, which is beautifully played by Bobby Shew on Flugel Horn and there is an excellent solo by guitarist John Chiodini on another Bellson composition Where Did You Go?

Bellson's drumming is sensational throughout, the two bass drums that he plays, which are part of the trademark of his style, are used to very good effect. He has drawn together on each of these sessions, an outstanding bunch of musicians playing modern, but straight-ahead arrangements each skilfully crafted. How good they sound compared to the pathetic esoteric noises of some of the so-called big bands of this era.

Big band fans if you donít have these albums already, buy them you will not be disappointed!


Don Mather




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