Louie Bellson - Why Is He Hardly Mentioned On Here?

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
I was looking for some threads on my favorite drummer, Louie Bellson, and found that there are hardly any threads on him. He's certainly one of the greatest drummers of all-time, so how come there's so little talk about him?
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Good question. Perhaps its because he was the proverbial AVIS in the era of HERTZ and never quite got the recognition he deserved.

A great drummer and a fine gent he was indeed.
 

The Colonel

Silver Member
I love me some Louie (first jazz drummer I really really listened to - had about 20-30 tapes of his groups, and his Ellington stuff), so I don't want to sound flippant or glib, but:

You can ask the same question of so many great drummers, and the answer is "People don't know/care about him" - and maybe they eventually will, and they should, but maybe they won't...


And it's sad.



The End.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
I would guess one of the reasons is that half of us here are under 25 years old and may have never have heard of this great musician, composer, band-leader. It's also quite possible that many here have never had a chance to hear a great Big-Band live.

I often wonder if anyone else besides me is listening to "Explosion" while they're driving to work !
 

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
I love me some Louie (first jazz drummer I really really listened to - had about 20-30 tapes of his groups, and his Ellington stuff), so I don't want to sound flippant or glib, but:

You can ask the same question of so many great drummers, and the answer is "People don't know/care about him" - and maybe they eventually will, and they should, but maybe they won't...


And it's sad.



The End.
Yeah, I guess I just expected to see more about him on a forum specifically for drummers.

I met Louie at the Jazz Showcase here in Chicago about 8 years ago. He was the nicest musician I ever met, amateur or professional, and a true gentleman. You couldn't meet a nicer person. You could tell there wasn't an ounce of cockiness in him, even though he was one of the greatest drummers of all-time. People in this world like Louie are way too few and far between. I've never cared for the whole autograph thing, but I really wish I had brought an album with me for him to sign, just so I could have a memoir as a reminder of when I met him.
 
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Strangelove

Gold Member
Go to the drummers forum and look at how much discussion we have on Phil Rudd and Charlie Watts. I think more people around here follow popular music rather than just talented drummers.
 

Old Doc Yak

Senior Member
I agree with the age thing. I'm an old guy and there are lots of great jazz drummers that I've seen and heard but are never mentioned here or anywhere. It's just a matter of the changing times and the new young drummers. Fact of life.
 

grooveweapon

Senior Member
I play a kit with two bass drums and I owe it all to Mr. Bellson. He is credited as being the pioneer of double bass drum kits. He is a great, legendary drummer. I'm only 23 but I think all young drummers owe it to themselves to do a little research and discover where the roots of modern playing are.
 

The Colonel

Silver Member
Yeah Matt, that's true, but at the same time, it's like all those Oscars (and other lifetime awards) they give out after someone died. It'd be nice if those awards were given while the person was still around to enjoy it. I always wondered why we mostly/only celebrate the person appropriately once they've died - what? We can't honor them twice?
 

ccutler69

Member
Yeah Matt, that's true, but at the same time, it's like all those Oscars (and other lifetime awards) they give out after someone died. It'd be nice if those awards were given while the person was still around to enjoy it. I always wondered why we mostly/only celebrate the person appropriately once they've died - what? We can't honor them twice?
It's because we forget about them until they die would be my guess
 

drumr0

Silver Member
Louie was amazing! I remember watching one of his instructional videos. One of the things that amazed me was his dynamics. He was going 100 miles an hour on his hi hat and doing it so quietly that it was barely audible. That takes control.

I also saw a video of him playing with the Navy Big Band. He was in the middle of his solo and his ride cymbal fell over. He never missed a lick though. Someone set it back up for him. He was a tremendous drummer and the first one to use double bass. He was underrated for sure!
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
I saw Louie play twice live, once was on the Dick Cavette show, and the second time was in NYC a few years before he died. We had front row seats in the small club and he came over and sat with us and I have to agree, he was a really nice guy. I told him I bought and was using his book "double bass drumming." He came back and said "Oh so you were the one!" It is a good book that uses odd time signatures.
 

The Colonel

Silver Member
It's because we forget about them until they die would be my guess

That's true, when the people being remembered hadn't done anything in a long time, like "oh crap, that dude died - he was awesome in the 60's - let's make an award for him" - But Louie was still playing for a long long time.... The closest thing would be - and I loved it:

I was in attendance for that very first American Drummer Achievement Award ceremony at Berklee with Bill Cosby as MC, and honoring Louie, Elvin, Max and Gadd ("Steve" could be anybody...) - I was most excited about Louie and Max. At that time, I didn't know Elvin really at all, and I've never - to this day - really cared one iota about Gadd (I'll meet any and all takers in the parking lot if they have a problem with me) - but to be in the same room as Louie and Max (and getting to *briefly* say "hi" in person) was a HUGE thrill for me.

No joke - my jazz appreciation came from LOUIE - from 9 years old till about 14, I think I only/mostly listened to Louie - with the occasional Krupa and Buddy Rich or Lionel Hampton tape/CD. Then got into Max hardcore with Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins' own stuff. But Louie always seemed like the most genuine person - which is a big deal...Haven't we all met a girl who's gorgeous (or guy, for the ladies, or gay drummers - happy Gay Pride Week) and then been physically turned off by them because of their attitude? You think "That person is *not* attractive....Well, Louie always beamed this incredible "I am quite possibly *the* nicest guy walking the planet right now" vibe - along with being on the forefront of interracial marriages WAAAAY back in the day - The man was just as cool as an f'in' cucumber. And he could drive a band better than anybody, IMNSHO (eat it, Buddy - and more interesting solos than Buddy...tired of Buddy's tiresome "let's bring it down and I'll play really boring-press rolls for 10 minutes with little accents" time after time...bleh - that's his 4 year old vaudeville background coming through)

The man had the best interpretation of "Caravan" - I gotta find the take - it's his own band - small group - and the thing is smokin' fast, crisp, and just incredible - the A section is sooooo good - and when he hits the uptempo ride pattern - oh my goodness. It's with Conte Candoli, I think...I'm gonna see if I can find it... Keter Betts on bass, I think.... Hmmm....let me see....Don Menza....going to allmusic.com - get to the bottom of this... (I remember the dude who introduces the band - great accent - impossible to forget once you hear it)...Nope, not on "Jazz Giants" - but that's a great album too - get it. Let's see...

cant find it...Gonna tell my mom to mail me those old cassette tapes...


Long live Louie!
 

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
The man had the best interpretation of "Caravan" - I gotta find the take - it's his own band - small group - and the thing is smokin' fast, crisp, and just incredible - the A section is sooooo good - and when he hits the uptempo ride pattern - oh my goodness. It's with Conte Candoli, I think...I'm gonna see if I can find it... Keter Betts on bass, I think.... Hmmm....let me see....Don Menza....going to allmusic.com - get to the bottom of this... (I remember the dude who introduces the band - great accent - impossible to forget once you hear it)...Nope, not on "Jazz Giants" - but that's a great album too - get it. Let's see...

cant find it...Gonna tell my mom to mail me those old cassette tapes...


Long live Louie!
I think I have the one you're talking about. I've got a smokin' version of 'Caravan' by Louie on an album of his called "Classics In Jazz" which has Louie doing Ellington and Gershwin songs. He plays with a big band and a small band on the album. For 'Caravan' he's playing with the small band and the other band members in the lineup are:

Theodore R. Nash, saxophone
Glenn Drewes, trumpet
Jay Leonhart, bass
Derek Smith, piano
Remo Palmier, guitar

Does that sound like it might be the one you're looking for?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
In the days following his passing, I thought this forum probably had the best Louie Bellson reflection thread on the net.

Here it is.

http://drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47218&highlight=Louie+Bellson
Yup.

I've notice him talked about, and not just his own threads.

But when you're as great as he was, some times it's hard to find things to say other than he was great. Some of the "longer" threads are long because there is a certain level of debate about some aspect of said player that creates a lot of back and forth discussion.

With Bellson, there is nothing to debate, because he was just so awesome.
 

Derek

Silver Member
Good question. Perhaps its because he was the proverbial AVIS in the era of HERTZ and never quite got the recognition he deserved.

A great drummer and a fine gent he was indeed.
Once again Abe, a very eloquent way of putting it.

And, as some of the others said, the generation gap probably also comes into play here.
 

The Colonel

Silver Member
I think I have the one you're talking about. I've got a smokin' version of 'Caravan' by Louie on an album of his called "Classics In Jazz" which has Louie doing Ellington and Gershwin songs. He plays with a big band and a small band on the album. For 'Caravan' he's playing with the small band and the other band members in the lineup are:

Theodore R. Nash, saxophone
Glenn Drewes, trumpet
Jay Leonhart, bass
Derek Smith, piano
Remo Palmier, guitar

Does that sound like it might be the one you're looking for?

That might be the one. Caravan is *very* uptempo, and in the A sections, he's doing this 2 bar part with press roll/16ths on the down beat through the first bar with a small tom to floor tom pattern on the & of 4, & of 1, and [floor tom] on 3 of the 2nd bar...no cymbals (except the hi-hat w/foot)
 
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