Louis Bellson's website today announced his Febrauary 14 passing in Los Angeles. The great jazz drummer had been recovering from a hip-breaking fall in November. Born July 6, 1924, in Rock Falls, Illinois, Bellson went on to become one of the best known jazz drummers of all time, playing with all the greats like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, JATP and leading bands of his own right up until the last few years.
In 1964, the drummer showcased his range and extensive percussive talents on Explorations (Roulette Birdland), a fairly brilliant meeting with composer Lalo Schifrin. The composer would modify these pieces to form a concert work titled Three Pieces For Percussion And Strings (1966), which also featured Bellson, and later utlize certain individual pieces for his soundtrack work ("Variations," from this album, for example, was used extensively during the first season on Mannix).