Louie Bellson & Clark Terry: Chicago Suite 1 State Street Swing


Chicago Suite 1 State Street Swing


Louie Bellson & Clark Terry


Louie and Clark Expedition 2 (Percussion Power)

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Steve Guerra (tenor sax), Kenny Washington (drums),

others unidentified


Composed by Louie Bellson


Recorded: New York, May 2007


Rating: 87/100 (learn more)

When I was a kid, Merv Griffin and his aging buddies were always telling audiences that the Big Band era was coming back. I got tired of it. Who the hell wants to hear that ancient swing music again? Years later when I was in college and a bit wiser, I was invited to go see Duke Bellaire's big band at Bovi's in East Providence, RI. The drummer had such fine sidemen as Dick Johnson, Hal Crook and Ted Casher. To be truthful, it was really the first time I heard "swing." Damn. That stuff can lift you up and take you away! I didn't know what I was missing. Economics prevent a real comeback, but it is always a treat to hear a good big band. When that band is led by two legends, it's even better.

So I pick my favorite tune from this latest release only to discover that neither Louie Bellson nor Clark Terry plays on it. Bellson did write it, though, and Terry is there in spirit, so here goes. "Chicago Suite 1 State Street Swing" is arranged by the old Tonight Show's sometimes bandleader, the late Tommy Newsom. It does indeed swing. Tenor man Steve Guerra is the main soloist with Kenny Washington's drums providing plenty of power. But, as with most jazz big bands, it is the ensemble playing of the horn section that really creates the full-blown swing phenomenon. You can almost feel the air come shooting out of the speakers.

Merv Griffin and guests such as Benny Goodman, Les Brown and Woody Herman were wrong. The big bands never came back. But now I don't blame them for wanting it to be so. Recordings such as this one are the next best thing.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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