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Basie In London

Count Basie

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Album Review

First off, this album is inaccurately titled. Though the cover photo shows Count Basie with two lavishly dressed Brits, the recording was done in its entirety from a 1956 concert in Gothenburg, Sweden. Why it was titled thusly is anyone's guess. As far as the music, it represents the Basie band in a classic time period, playing many well-known, long-lasting, and beloved tunes that everybody will recognize. It's also a band loaded with legendary Basie sidemen like Freddie Green, Sonny Payne, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Joe Newman, Marshall Royal, Charlie Fowlkes, and on three tracks, Joe Williams. The warm, effusive, happy jazz of Count Basie is well recorded with distinction, presence, good stereo separation, and the restrained yet punchy sound Basie always presented with dignified class. Whether it's the trombones taking over on "Jumpin' at the Woodside," the low-key sonance of "Shiny Stockings," the roaring horns during "A Foggy Day," or the under two-minute, hard-charging "One O'Clock Jump," this music is all immediately identifiable and unmistakably Basie. Buster Harding's "Nails" is a blues jam with Green's strumming more audible amidst the echoes of the repeat traditional instrumental line of "my mama done told me" paraphrased from "Blues in the Night," while the Ernie Wilkins feature for Frank Foster, "Flute Juice," is a nimble excursion based on the changes of "I Got Rhythm." With Williams, the band backs the erudite deep-throated singer on a choogling "Alright, Okay, You Win," the quick "Roll 'Em Pete" (where the singer jives about his "gal way up on the hill"), and "The Comeback" (where Williams declares his return to his baby over a stairstep construct). "Corner Pocket" remains the ultimate signature head-nodding Basie tune, but "Blee Blop Blues" might be seen as a jab or tease at bop, when it is solidly in that genre. Four extra tracks are included on the CD version, including and up-and-down version of "Yesterdays," a cute, medium-tempo untitled jam with Basie's piano firmly stamped on it, the explosively crazy three-minute Wilkins ditty "Sixteen Men Swinging," and Neal Hefti's "Plymouth Rock," which is a more lyrical vehicle, easygoing and trumpet-infused (possibly Thad Jones, although he's unidentified as the soloist). This solid document of Count Basie's "hits" come highly recommended, despite the disingenuous marketing ploy of it being based somewhere else. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

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...
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