Duke Ellington (featuring Louie Bellson): Skin Deep
Duke Ellington (featuring Louie Bellson)
Ellington Uptown (Sony Jazz 5129172)
Duke Ellington (piano), Louie Bellson (drums), Cat Anderson (trumpet), Clark Terry (trumpet), Willie Cook (trumpet), Ray Nance (trumpet), Juan Tizol (trombone), Quentin Jackson (trombone), Britt Woodman (trombone), Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Jimmy Hamilton (reeds), Russell Procope (reeds), Hilton Jefferson (reeds), Wendell Marshall (bass).
Composed by Louie Bellson.
Recorded: December 8, 1952
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
A few years after this recording, rock bands would discover the allure of long, intense drum solos. This was more than mere bombast—there is solid clinical evidence that prolonged exposure to powerful rhythms impacts a listener's brain rhythms and creates a trance-like state. Well, long before Ginger Baker and Keith Moon, there was Louie Bellson, who actually was the pioneer who developed the two-bass-drum-setup adopted by these later mega-rockers. And Bellson also was a master of the supersize drum solo, as demonstrated on this seminal performance with the Duke Ellington band. Ellington himself was just beginning to experiment with the potential for longer recorded tracks unleashed by the LP format (this same album also featured his brilliant tone poem Harlem, perhaps my favorite of his extended works), and with one of the great swing percussionists in the band, the time was also ripe for a big drum feature. "Skin Deep" did not disappoint. This Bellson original created quite a stir at the time, and still stands out as one of the defining performances of big band drumming. Bellson not only shows off his formidable technique, but also proves that he could build a solo over the course of several minutes while keeping the audience focused on his every move. If you want to take the measure of Mr. Bellson, one of the finest drummers of the Swing (or any) Era, this is the place to begin.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia