Archive for the ‘Louie Bellson’ Category


Louie Bellson

(Concord Jazz)

Producer: Carl E. Jefferson

Dynamite, recorded live at the Concord Jazz Festival, in August of 1979, features jazz drumming legend Louie Bellson and his Big Band at their best!  What a performance!  The band is tight, together, and exuberant!

“Sambandrea Swing,” composed and arranged by tenor saxophonist Don Menza, sets off the album with this stellar up-tempo samba.  It features solos by both Menza and fellow legend, trumpeter Bobby Shew.  Next, Shew melodically delights the audience with his gentle flugelhorn on “Deliverance.”  “Concord Blues for Blue,” dedicated to the band’s former late, great trumpeter, Blue Mitchell, features medium blues/swing solos from saxophonist Dick Spencer and bassist John Williams, Jr.  The band kicks the tempo back up with the driving 3/4 metered, “Cinderella’s Waltz,” featuring Frank Collett on piano and Shew once again on flugelhorn.  John Chiodini’s guitar presence showcased on “Where Did You Go” is one of the most expressive guitar contributions ever recorded.  Then comes the album’s closer, “Explosion,” composed and arranged by Matt Catingub.  Eleven plus minutes wiz by as soloists, section features and not one, but two drum solos make this barnstormer one of the tightest juggernaut recordings ever made.

I was lucky enough to meet Louie Bellson after a performance in the late 1980s.  A friend and I snuck back stage and dared to knock on our idol’s dressing room door.  And there he was.  I can’t remember what I specifically said to him, but I am sure that I sounded like an idiot.  Dynamite was a legendary album for me at the time – and still is.  What I do remember: was Louie’s charm; his total lack of any Buddy Rich-styled, ego-driven crapola; the fact that he reached out his hand first in shaking mine; and his genuine delight and appreciation that we liked the show and were excited about drumming due to his inspiration.

His autograph gracing the front of a poster from that show is one of my most prized possessions.