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Basie's Beatle Bag

Count Basie

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Album Review

The Count and his orchestra tackle the music of the Fab Four, without any hint of condescension or lassitude. Indeed, the 11 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and one ("Kansas City") by Leiber & Stoller are treated with the same kind of dignity and enthusiasm that the band would give to the likes of Johnny Mercer or Harold Arlen. "Kansas City" is the bluesiest number here, and the one with which the band is obviously the most comfortable — it's the only number here that could have appeared, as is, on any Basie album of the previous decade. But "Michelle" is the best track here, a gently swinging rendition in which Basie's piano is featured in some pleasing flourishes and the band slips into a satisfying groove. The rest also comes off well — the ballads fare the best, showing off the quieter side of the band, stretching out and luxuriating on pieces like "Do You Want to Know a Secret." Basie and company also rise to the occasion on rockers like "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "Can't Buy Me Love," taking big bites out of the beat and the principal melodies with some hot ensemble playing and solos. In the end, the songs and the band are both well served by Chico O'Farrill's arrangements, which manage to maintain the familiar and emphasize some surprises. Even "Yesterday," the most over-recorded of the Beatles' songs, comes off fresh, with a moving jazz vocal treatment from Bill Henderson supported by Basie's engaging organ fills and a quietly soaring trombone and sax section. The band romps, and the soloists, in addition to Basie, include Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Al Grey.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful!

Basie is great. Anything can swing. Great songwriting, great rearranging. Back in the U.S.S.R.?

Biography

Born: August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Count Basie was among the most important bandleaders of the swing era. With the exception of a brief period in the early '50s, he led a big band from 1935 until his death almost 50 years later, and the band continued to perform after he died. Basie's orchestra was characterized by a light, swinging rhythm section that he led from the piano, lively ensemble work, and generous soloing. Basie was not a composer like Duke Ellington or an important...
Full Bio

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