Drummer Louie Bellson and trumpeter/flugelhornist Clark Terry first worked together in the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the '50s and the Duke or, as Terry always refers to him, "The Maestro," remains central to both players' jazz conception. This is more a Bellson big band project than a true collaboration, as Terry only appears on seven of the thirteen tracks and Bellson composed or co-wrote all thirteen. Carrying on in a decidedly Ellington vein, the first four tracks comprise "The Chicago Suite." The byplay between trumpet (Stepko Gut) and band on the suite's "City of Seasons," as well as the contrasting low, sashaying horns and high skipping ones on "The Blues Singer," reflects Ellington orchestral strategies, although elsewhere on the CD the band leans more toward New Testament Count Basie.
Bellson remains, in his mid-80s, a formidable big band drummer who knows not only how to drive a band but also how to accent arrangements with crisp fills and short drum breaks that never fail to add excitement. On "State Street Swing" from the suite and the CD closer, "Well Alright Then," he propels the band as well as any big band drummer out there today. "Two Guys and A Gal" is another entertaining Bellson showcase for drum solos, here with Kenny Washington and Sylvia Cuenca adding their trap sets to the mix. Terry's appearances begin tentatively with two yeoman-like open solos, but he hits his stride on three tracks featuring his Harmon-muted horn. "Terry's Mood" captures his whimsy and wit in a brightly syncopated theme and puckish out chorus solo, while "Back to the Basics (Old)" contrasts his muted horn with flutes. On the swaggering "Now (The Young)" he adds hints of plunger to a solo where the band drops out for just walking bass and the barest ticking drumstick on cymbal.
Track Listing: Chicago Suite Four Part Movement:(State Street Swing; City of Season; The Blues Singer; Lake Shore Drive); Davenport Blues; Two Guys And A Gal; Piacere; Give Me The Good Time; Ballade; Terry's Mood; Back To The Basics (Old); Now (The Young); Well Alright Then.
Personnel: Louie Bellson: composer, drums; Clark Terry: trumpet, flugelhorn; Albert Alva: conductor, alto saxophone, flute; Stantawn Kendrick: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Steve Guerra: tenor saxophone; Whitney Staten: tenor saxophone; Adam Schroeder: baritone saxophone; Stafford Hunter: trombone; Andrae Murchison: trombone; Cameron MacManus: trombone; Jack Jeffers: bass trombone; Frank Greene: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Lujan: trumpet, flugelhorn; Stjepko Gut: trumpet, flugelhorn; Greg Glassman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Helen Sung: piano; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Sylvia Cuenca: drums (6); Kenny Washington: drums (6).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.