Hot Licks: Double Bass On Record

Transcription And Analysis Of Classic Double Kick Performances

Louis Bellson

Like having a tank of nitrous oxide at your disposal in a drag race, few tools in a drummer’s arsenal are as effective for kicking up the energy as a well placed double bass lick. Double bass pedals have become one of the most popular accessories purchased for drum sets, and as a result that innocuous device has created entire new genres of rock music. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable double-bass performances on record that pushed the discipline forward and influenced generations of drummers.

Louis Bellson

You’re forgiven if you think Ginger Baker and Keith Moon were the first double bass drummers. Jazz great Louis Bellson had them beat by at least 15 years. Bellson played a typical ’80s-style double bass kit nearly 60 years ago during his tenure with the Duke Ellington band. Better known for his great chops and impeccably tasteful swing drumming, Bellson also created double bass rhythms that drummers still use today. We’ll take a look at the “rock” section of Bellson’s classic “Skin Deep” solo off Duke Ellington’s Uptown record.

At the beginning of this excerpt, Bellson sets up a call and response pattern of eight sixteenth-notes on the snare that he answers with eight sixteenth-notes on his kick drums. He breaks up the bass drum and plays a more syncopated pattern in the second line using a rhythm of 3 e, ah 4, & ah. In the bottom line, he breaks into a constant “running in place” pattern that he solos over. Every drummer with a double bass pedal should thank Bellson for his innovative spirit and consistently brilliant drumming.

DRUM! Notation Guide

Louis Bellson
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