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Album Review

This recording could be considered a near-sibling to April In Paris, since several of its tracks date from sessions out of the same month. Others overlap with material cut for The Greatest! Count Basie Plays . . . Joe Williams Sings Standards, and it isn't as compelling a record, either as a Joe Williams vehicle or a Basie showcase, as either of those, though it does have its moments, most notably the original finale, Arranger Ernie Wilkins' "From Coast to Coast," an 8½-minute blow-out; the Ella Fitzgerald-Joe Williams duet on "Too Close For Comfort," and the title track, rearranged by Wilkins but close to the classic rendering, which features lively solos by Frank Wess, Benny Powell, Frank Foster, and (especially)Joe Newman and Henry Coker. Williams is the dominant presence on the album, singing on seven of the original 10 tracks, and his presence is a bit of a drag on some of the proceedings, especially "Only Forever." His work with Basie from this era is better represented on Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings, although he and the band acquit themselves very well here on "Stop, Pretty Baby, Stop," where all hands are firing on all cylinders at once for a change. The bonus tracks include a heavier, punchier outtake of "One O'Clock Jump" featuring the same soloists, plus a Williams-solo version of "Too Close For Comfort." The CD is a good package, with superb sound, though some historical notes would've been nice to put the sessions in perspective. A handy mid-priced reissue.

Biography

Born: 21 August 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...
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