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The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson

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Album Review

Louie Bellson follows his late bandleader Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck in composing and recording an extensive suite of sacred music, written in collaboration with Buddy Baker and Jack Hayes. In addition to the drummer, there is a small jazz group, including trumpet soloist Bobby Shew, trumpeter John Thomas, trombonist Harold Garrett, and alto saxophonists Albert Alva and Ann Patterson, with fine contributions by the students of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Studio Jazz Band, Symphony String Orchestra and Choir. The music alternates between formal sacred arrangements and swinging numbers, all well executed, though there isn't any one number that particularly sticks out. The last four tracks are a separate work, Bellson's The Jazz Ballet, which depicts the drummer's aural conception of marriage. It was premiered in 1962 with Dizzy Gillespie as the guest trumpeter and has been performed a few times over the years, though this is its recording debut. This swinging instrumental is in the mold of Ellington's extended suites.


Born: July 6, 1924 in Rock Falls, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the great drummers of all time (and one of the few whose name can be said in the same sentence with Buddy Rich), Louie Bellson has the rare ability to continually hold one's interest throughout a 15-minute solo. He became famous in the 1950s for using two bass drums simultaneously, but Bellson was never a gimmicky or overly bombastic player. In addition to being able to drive a big band to exciting effect, Bellson can play very quietly with a trio and sound quite satisfied. Winner of a Gene...
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