Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francisco Antonio Balassoni, 6 July 1924, Rock Falls, Illinois, USA. Drummer Bellson first gained public attention by winning a Gene Krupa talent contest in 1940 and one of his early professional jobs was with Krupas old boss, Benny Goodman. Bellson also worked with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and in 1951 joined Duke Ellington, where his dynamic and aggressive style was startlingly different to that of his sometimes lackadaisical predecessor, Sonny Greer. Ellington used a number of Bellsons compositions, including The Hawk Talks (written for James) and Skin Deep, a marathon drum feature. After leaving Ellington, Bellson recorded and toured with small groups and sporadic big bands. In the mid-50s he returned briefly to Tommy Dorsey and also recorded for Norman Granz, accompanying Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and others. In these settings he proved to...
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