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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


“The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson”

Every once in a blue moon, a very special and inspired musical endeavor comes along. “The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson” is such an endeavor. Once called not only the ‘world’s greatest drummer’, but the ‘world’s greatest musician’ by Duke Ellington, it goes without saying that Louie Bellson is a true American musical icon. One of the many, many highlights of his career was when Bellson played drums for Ellington’s historic “Concert of Sacred Music” – a work commissioned to celebrate the completion and consecration of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral in 1965. The Duke also planted a spiritual seed, when he suggested that the legendary drummer should write his own concert of sacred music someday. Over the next 35 years of his storied career, with a little help from his friends, that seed was nourished and passionately crafted into a most glorious celebration of rhythm and melody. In March of 2000, Louie Bellson and the USC Thornton Studio Jazz Band, Thornton Symphony Strings and 20-voice choir performed the world premier of The Louie Bellson Sacred Music Program. A week later the recording of the work began in Hollywood. In March and May of 2000 the recording process was complete, including “The Jazz Ballet” – another classic Bellson composition inspired by the institution of holy matrimony. “The Jazz Ballet” had originally premiered in Las Vegas in 1962 with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, and this gorgeous Bellson composition consists of four themed movements.

louieBellson78 (5K)From the wake up call of “Lightning & Thunder,” through gorgeous choral passages, to the pure power swing of “Love,” culminates in the glorious “Celebration,” ‘The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson’ combines symphony, big band and choir into a true masterpiece. It is being praised by some of the biggest names in music, including Tony Bennett, Della Reese, Lalo Schifrin and Dave Brubeck. This is an epic release from Moline’s favorite son of jazz, Louie Bellson - who expresses his gratitude to Jesus Christ for “endowing me not only with the vision but also with the energy to complete this mission in the eighth decade of my life.” This new release is available now on the Percussion Power label, and for more information write: Francine Bellson, c/o Remo, Inc., 28101 Industry Drive, Valencia, California, 91355. You can also order this CD online at www.musicianswarehouse.com , or by phone: 800-645-6673.

More True Blue Tracks…

Saffire (5K)“Deluxe Edition,” Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women (Alligator) This new release from Gaye Adegbalola, Andra Faye, and the incomparable Ann Rabson, brings together twenty of the dynamic blues trio’s best musical performances on one disk. This new release celebrates Saffire’s fifteenth year on the Alligator label, and is a fitting tribute to the staying power of these true blue divas.

racing_the_devil_175 (21K)“Racin’ the Devil,” Lee Rocker (Alligator) Lee Rocker gained fame as bass player for The Stray Cats. He has carried on past those early days in the rockabilly revival, to mix the best of the blues, rockabilly, country and rock and roll into his own hybrid brand of pure houserockin’ music. Rocker even tips his hat to the good ol’ days, with a revitalized version of The Stray Cats mega-hit “Rock This Town.” There’s good rockin’ tonight, with Lee Rocker and Co.

Further on up the road…

Buckwheat Zydeco brings a heapin’ helpin’ of cajun spirit to the Rocket Cinema on Feb. 25th for a special Mardi Gras Saturday Night. This special concert is presented by River Music Experience and the Rocket Cinema, and for more information visit www.rivermusicexperience.org , or phone 563-326-1333.

That’s all there is, and there aint no mo. Until we meet again at this crossroads… peace, love & blessings to everyone in the New Year, and as always…

Blues to ‘ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He is also on the staff of River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.


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