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Louie Bellson Big Band Explosion: The Art of the Chart

Perhaps last in a long line of unpretentiously swinging big bands, Louie Bellson’s ongoing assemblage of the best L.A. jazz sectionmen and soloists scores once again with this salute to the all important composer/arrangers of jazz. Here we have charts by the always vital Tommy Newsom (Strayhorn’s “The Intimacy of the Blues” and Bellson’s “Berne, Baby, Berne,” “Summer Love,” “Who Brings You the Good News?,” “The Admiral,” and “Ike, Mike and Spike”), Thad Jones (Bellson’s “To C.P. with Love” and his own “With Bells On”), Bob Florence (“Your Wake Up Call”), Jack Hayes (“Conte”), Bill Holman (“Quiet Riot”), and Ernie Wilkins (“3×5+16”), the last three composed either in collaboration with or solely by the leader.

Lest one think, though, that all is about the printed page, consider this list of generously featured soloists: saxmen Rickey Woodard, Sal Lozano, Pete Christlieb, Jack Nimitz; trumpeters George Graham, Walt Johnson, Conte Candoli, Carl Saunders; and trombonists George Bohanon, Jimmie Zito, Andy Martin. Also spicing the solo roster are pianist Mike Lang, bassist Chuck Berghofer, and Bellson himself. This is, by far, one of the best big band albums heard within recent recall, and should be sought by all lovers of the genre.

Originally Published