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Louie Bellson

Louis Bellson one of the great drummers of all time (and one of the few whose name can be said in the same sentence with Buddy Rich), Louie Bellson has the rare ability to continually hold one's interest throughout a 15-minute solo. He became famous in the 1950s for using two bass drums simultaneously, but Bellson was never a gimmicky or overly bombastic player. In addition to being able to drive a big band to exciting effect, Bellson can play very quietly with a trio and sound quite satisfied.
Winner of a Gene Krupa talent contest while a teenager, Bellson was with the big bands of Benny Goodman (1943 and 1946), Tommy Dorsey (1947-49) and Harry James (1950-51) before replacing Sonny Greer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A talented writer, Bellson contributed "Skin Deep" and "The Hawk Talks" to Duke's permanent repertoire. He married Pearl Bailey in 1952 and the following year left Ellington to be her musical director.

Bellson toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic (1954-55), recorded many dates in the 1950s for Verve and was with the Dorsey Brothers (1955-56), Count Basie (1962), Duke Ellington (1965-66) and Harry James (1966). He has been continually active up to the present day, leading big bands (different ones on the East and West Coasts), putting together combos for record dates, giving clinics for younger drummers and writing new music. Bellson has recorded extensively for Roulette (early '60s), Concord, Pablo and most recently Music Masters.
Louie Bellson played with Count Basies band, he is better-known for his two-year stint with Duke Ellington in the early 1950s. He started a percussion trend by adding a second bass drum to his set; he also threw in a small tom-tom for good measure.

Bellson married Pearl Bailey in 1955 and often toured with her. Eventually, he began to head his own groups, and he has remained active into the 1990s.

Known for his versatility, Bellson has headed big bands, "Big Band Dynamite" live in 1979, "Peaceful Thunder" in 1994. At age 72, Louie has recently put out a new album entitled "Air Bellson." Duke Ellington, once said Bellson is "the greatest musician alive."

The inventor of the two-bass drum kit is famous for his collaborations with the Ellington, Basie, Dorsey and Goodman bands and his work with Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and others.

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