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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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LOUIE BELLSON

Live from New York

Telarc CD 83334

 

 

 
1. Soar Like an Eagle
2. The Louie Shuffle
3. Blow Your Horn
4. L.A. Suite: Vine Street Waltz / Beverly and the Beach / (Studio City) Gathering
5. Louie & Clark Expedition
6. Francine
7. Santos
 
Louie Bellson – Drums
Clark Terry - Flugelhorn
Joe Roccisano, Steve Wilson - Alto sax
Ted Nash, Scott Robinson - Tenor sax
Jack Stuckey - Baritone sax
Robert Millikan, Danny Cahn, Glenn Drewes, Darryl Shaw, Marvin Stamm – Trumpets
Larry Farrell, Mike Davis, Keith O'Quinn – Trombones
Herb Besson - Bass trombone
Derek Smith – Piano
Harvie Swartz – Bass

 

At their most impressive, drummers can make your jaw drop open in disbelief. That happened to me when I first heard Louie Bellson’s recording of Skin Deep with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. It was a skilful, well-constructed drum feature which only deteriorated towards the end when Louie over-used his two bass drums. The recording displayed Louie’s fine technique and his ability to drive a band with a mixture of power and swing.

That mixture is evident in this album of a 1993 concert in New York, now reissued in Telarc’s mid-price "Discover Jazz" series. Louie wrote all the tunes himself, although the opening track sounds remarkably like another swing tune whose title I cannot recall. At any rate, Louie opens it with an ear-catching solo that uses some of the same licks as Skin Deep. And the drums are prominent on most tracks of this CD – notably in the extended solo on the 16-minute Santos which closes the concert. Lasting around nine minutes, this solo is in danger of outstaying its welcome (and annoying the many jazz fans who hate drum solos), although it is varied enough to just about retain one’s interest. It also includes a swirling trumpet solo by Marvin Stamm.

Another horn player – Clark Terry – guests on flugelhorn in Blow Your Horn and Louis & Clark Expedition, although these tracks were actually recorded by the band the afternoon before the concert and Clark’s solos were overdubbed later. The former is a tender ballad, the latter a jaunty mid-tempo number, and Clark Terry acquits himself well on both. His puckish tone is unique and instantly recognizable.

Of the other tracks, The Louie Shuffle is an easygoing bounce; Francine is a love-song written for Louie’s wife; and L. A. Suite a three-part invention co-written by Louie Bellson and Tommy Newsom. The suite starts with a jazz waltz, then slows down for Beverly and the Beach (with a delicate piano interlude by British-born Derek Smith), and ends with (Studio City) Gathering, delivered in varying tempos and climaxing with Bellson’s assertive drums.

This is an album of fine big-band jazz, which avoids the big-band clichés by using a variety of arrangers - including Matt Catingub and Bob Florence. It may be enjoyed by drummers more than anyone else but it should appeal to all fans of big bands, especially as the recording quality is excellent.


Tony Augarde

 



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