Louie Bellson & Clark Terry,
Louie & Clark Expedition 2
(Percussion Power, 2007)

Louie Bellson and Clark Terry are not only veterans of the big-band era, they are just about, in themselves, the history of modern jazz. Bellson, called by Duke Ellington the world's greatest musician, not only played in all of the important bands of the 1930s and '40s, racking up more than 200 album credits, but led his own outfits as well, racking up acclaim and prizes for several decades. Terry, a brilliant trumpet player, has performed as sideman or leader on more than 300 records. An internationally respected figure, he's been knighted in Germany and has been awarded the French Order of Arts and Letters.

These two guys know their music.

For this CD, they've put together a 19-piece big band that crosses the generations, featuring several oldtimers as well as a handful of up-and-coming future stars, to play a set that spans the jazz generations -- the music simultaneously harkens back to the swing days but sounds fresh and modern.

It opens with a high point, the four-song "Chicago Suite," which has been masterfully arranged by Tommy Newsom and is brilliantly performed. Both the solos and the ensemble are playing swing like crazy, and by the time it ends, you know you've been welcomed into the world of masters.

Newsom's arrangements serve the band wonderfully. Nearly every song I singled out as exceptional has his touch on it, but all of the songs on the CD reward repeated listenings.

If you want to hear brilliant musicians playing at the top of their form, you'll want to embark on the Louie & Clark Expedition.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

20 September 2008

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