ΠΕΘΑΝΕ Ο ΛΟΥΙΣ ΜΠΕΛΣΟΝ. Σίγησε το «γοργό ντραμς» της τζαζ

February 18, 2009 at 6:55 am Leave a comment

Ο ντράμερ και συνθέτης της  τζαζ Λούις Μπέλσον

«Έφυγε» στα 84 του ο ντράμερ Λούις Μπέλσον, έχοντας γράψει την προσωπική του, σπουδαία ιστορία στην τζαζ. Είχε παίξει μαζί με τους Ντιούκ Έλινγκτον, Κάουντ Μπέιζι, Μπένι Γκούντμαν, και σε μια «γεμάτη» καριέρα εξήντα ετών έπαιξε ντραμς σε πάνω από 200 άλμπουμ των Τόμι Ντόρσεϊ, Χάρι Τζέιμς, Όσκαρ Πέτερσον, Γούντι Χέρμαν, Σάρα Βον, Έλα Φιτζέραλντ, Λούις Άρμστρονγκ κ.ά. Χάρη στο ιδιαίτερο παίξιμό του, γρήγορα βρέθηκε στην ελίτ της τζαζ. Θεωρείται πρωτοπόρος σε πολλές τεχνικές πάνω στις οποίες βασίστηκαν πολλοί μουσικοί. Κατέγραψε πάνω από 1.000 συνθέσεις και ενορχηστρώσεις στην τζαζ, το σουίνγκ, αλλά και συμφωνικά έργα και μουσική για μπαλέτο. Σαν συγγραφέας εμφανίζεται σε αρκετούς τίτλους βιβλίων με θέμα την τέχνη των ντραμς και των κρουστών. Γιος Ιταλών μεταναστών στην Αμερική, είχε δηλώσει πως ένιωσε μαγεμένος από τον ήχο των ντραμς, όταν ο πατέρας του τον πήγε σε μία παρέλαση. Πέθανε σε νοσοκομείο της Καλιφόρνιας από επιπλοκές της ασθένειας Πάρκινσον. Η τελευταία του ηχογράφηση «Louie & Clark Εxpedition 2» κυκλοφόρησε πέρυσι. [ΤΑ ΝΕΑ: Τετάρτη 18 Φεβρουαρίου 2009]

Louie Bellson: jazz drummer and bandleader

Louie Bellson

(Mark Lennihan/AP)

Bellson: at 18 he replaced Gene Krupa in Benny Goodman’s band, but was fired for upstaging the vain bandleade

Louie Bellson was the last of the flamboyant big band drummers of the swing era, typified by Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. He was able to shade an arrangement by using a timbral range from the quietest brushwork to the most thunderous punctuations, all placed perfectly in time, and always supportive rather than intrusive.

Best known as the bandleader for his wife of 37 years, Pearl Bailey, he had an impressive catalogue of recordings under his own name. He was one of the first percussionists to add a second bass drum to his kit, which made him a particularly distinctive figure during his time with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1950s. He was also adept at playing in any size of group, ranging from the outstanding chamber jazz trio records he made with Art Tatum and Benny Carter to the largest of big bands. In this sphere he had few rivals, not only leading his own band from the early 1950s but having also played for Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Count Basie as well as Ellington.

Bellson was a favourite of the impresario Norman Granz, which meant that from 1954 he often appeared on touring Jazz at the Philharmonic concert packages, battling on stage against Rich or Krupa, and generally becoming the fourth member of Oscar Peterson’s trio to create the rhythm section for soloists like Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge, or for such singers as Ella Fitzgerald. This activity spilt over into the recording studio, and particularly during the years when Bailey was away from her own band, singing in the Broadway show Hello Dolly, Bellson became one of the most prolific studio drummers in jazz history, recording for everyone from Louis Armstrong to Sarah Vaughan.

Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni was born into a musical family in Rock Falls, Illinois. His father ran a music store in the town of Moline, and the young Luigi — who first learnt to tap-dance — studied the drums and piano, but also acquired a working knowledge of brass and string instruments. This stood him good stead as he developed into an arranger and the composer of such jazz standards as The Hawk Talks and Skin Deep. He anglicised his name, and in 1940 won the national Gene Krupa drum contest, which in due course led him to replace Krupa himself as a member of Benny Goodman’s band at just 18 years of age.

His virtuoso playing led Goodman to fire Bellson after three months in the band, during a season at a New York hotel, because the clarinettist was famously averse to anyone but himself winning the lion’s share of applause. However, Bellson’s replacement was not able to read the tricky score that was needed for the band to accompany an ice-dancing routine at the hotel, and Bellson got off the train home in Chicago to find his father waiting on the platform with a cable from Goodman pleading with him to return. With a break for war service, he remained with Goodman until 1947, eventually leaving to join Tommy Dorsey.

After a short period leading his own sextet, Bellson then joined Harry James in 1950, not least because that band’s lighter workload for the same money gave him the opportunity to study composition, but in 1951 he was asked to join Ellington. When he handed in his notice, James’s only comment was “Can’t you somehow take me with you?” His two-year period with Ellington was a musical high point in Bellson’s career, and both Ellington and his arranger Billy Strayhorn helped him to find the confidence to write fluently, and at a time when almost all the band’s music had been written only by Ellington and Strayhorn, Bellson found himself contributing a substantial number of pieces to the repertoire.

In 1953, after a whirlwind romance lasting four days, he was married to Bailey at the Caxton Hall in London and thereafter, until her death in 1990 (obituary, August 20), Bellson devoted much of his professional life to running her band and being her musical director. Her principal arrangers were Don Redman and Benny Carter, and once again Bellson learnt further compositional skills from them to add to his already impressive talents. In the mid-1950s he managed to lead his own band, appear frequently with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and tour with Bailey. In the 1960s he began a series of periodic reunions with Ellington, who featured him on his first Sacred Concert and also in the suite A Drum is a Woman.

In the following two decades Bellson was running his own bands on both sides of North America as he shuttled from Hollywood to New York for club and concert engagements, many of them featuring Bailey. He also became a popular member of the international all-star touring groups promoted by Granz, or by George Wein. But most importantly for the drum world, Bellson devoted himself increasingly to teaching. He wrote several manuals on drum technique, of which the best known is A Guide to Big Band Drumming (with Jim Petercsak), published in 1975, and he became a favourite tutor on university jazz courses and masterclasses. His affable personality and genuine delight in making the difficult seem easy endeared him to generations of students. He also shared his delight in composition, bringing a collection of his scores with him as he travelled to work as a guest soloist with bands around the world, including the BBC Big Band.

After Bailey’s death he was married to Francine, who was diligent in keeping in touch with his many contacts in several countries. He continued to lead his own big band, and in 2007 recorded an album, Expedition 2, which featured the other principal survivor from the 1950s Ellington band, the trumpeter Clark Terry. At the time of his death he was recovering from a broken hip, but fully intended to resume his career.

He was nominated for a Grammy six times, and he and Pearl Bailey held the record (after Bob Hope) for the second greatest number of appearances as entertainers at the White House, for numerous presidents.

  • Louie Bellson, jazz drummer and bandleader, was born on July 6, 1924. He died on February 14, 2009, aged 84

Entry filed under: Bellson Louie, Μπέλσον Λούις. Tags: .

Απεβίωσε ο βουλευτής Επικρατείας του ΠΑΣΟΚ, Γιώργος Παπαδημητρίου «Έφυγε» ο συγγραφέας Γουέμπ Σαλίχ

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