Louie Bellson’s Magic 7: Air Bellson

Louie Bellson’s vigor and flair prove to be undiminished on this mix of blues, bossa nova, ballad and waltz tempos. A hand-picked septet is captivating and classy on 13 swinging originals penned by the 72-year-old drum legend.

The album opens with “Air Jordan,” a tribute to the Chicago Bulls’ star that showcases Pete Christlieb’s strong tenor. Conte Candoli’s trumpet is the creative voice on “Mele Kalikimaka,” while Andy Martin works his slide on “150 Pounds of Bones” and Christlieb renders the tender theme of “Ballade.”

Other tributes, “Tito” (for bandleader Puente) and “Tempo De Carlo” (for late Concord Jazz founder Carl Jefferson), also allow quality solo space. “Another Shade of Blues” showcases pianist Larry Novak and soprano saxophonist Sal Lozano, who plays alto and flute on other tracks. The four-horn choir harmonizes on “Lou’s Blues,” bassist Dave Stone is the star of “Bassiano,” and pianist Novak and bassist John Heard take turns exploring “Waltz A-Way.”