This past August marked the 100th anniversary of Count Basie's birth and in recognition of that august event, reissued are some of the big band master's finest sides from the late '50s and early '60s.
Count Basie and Friends: 100th Birthday Bash
The indispensable two-disc set Count Basie and Friends: 100th Birthday Bash is a compilation of 28 tunes, about half of them vocal numbers, featuring Basie, his big and small bands and such special guests as Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine. Along with standards like "Li'l Darlin'," "April in Paris," Joe Williams' "Goin' to Chicago," and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross' "Jumpin' at the Woodside" are some less-expected delights, like superb small-group sessions led by Basie cohorts Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Illinois Jacquet and Ben Webster. From ballads to big band burners, everything here grooves with that inimitable blend of swing and sophistication that defined the Basie sound.
Count Basie Story
A second two-disc set, The Count Basie Story , is also worthwhile, though somewhat less essential. Originally released in 1961 to commemorate the Basie band's 25th anniversary, the album offers updated takes on '30's and '40s classics like "Lester Leaps In," "Jumpin' at the Woodside," and "Swingin' the Blues." While some might prefer the more bluesy, dance-oriented versions by the original band (stocked with luminaries such as Lester Young, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Jo Jones and Jimmy Rushing) to the more refined approach of the later group, there's no denying that the 1961 band (featuring the considerable talents of Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Frank Wess and Joe Williams, among others) could still swing hard.
100 years after his birth, these terrific-sounding sets are testimony to the fact that when it comes to hard-driving, no-nonsense swing, no one did it better than Basie.
100th Birthday Bash
Tracks: 1 Whirly-Birds (3:52); 2 Goin' to Chicago (4:12); 3 Cute (3:13); 4 I Want a Little Girl (2:51); 5 Teach Me Tonight (2:53); 6 The Late Late Show (2:52); 7 Lonesome Lover Blues (3:11); 8 Blue and Sentimental (3:36); 9 Trav'lin' Light (3:54); 10 Farouk (5:24); 11 For Lena and Lennie (3:51); 12 Untouchable (3:17); 13 Everyday (I Have the Blues) (4:44); 14 I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face (3: 03); 15 Jumpin' at the Woodside (3:21); 16 Li'l Darlin' (4:50); 17 If I Were a Bell (2:45); 18 Splanky (3:38); 19 Ain't No Use (2:58); 20 Until I Met You (Corner Pocket) (2:52); 21 She's Funny That Way (3: 17); 22 The Late Late Show (2:35); 23 Jeepers Creepers (2:09); 24 Jelly Jelly (3:05); 25 Katy Do (4: 24); 26 Save Your Love for Me (3:59); 27 April in Paris [live] (3:38); 28 One O'Clock Jump [live] (3: 48).
Personnel: Al Aarons: Trumpet; John Anderson: Trumpet; Butch Ballard: Drums; Count Basie: Piano; Tony Bennett: Vocals; Benny Carter: Arranger; Sonny Cohn: Trumpet; Henry Coker: Trombone; Nat King Cole: Vocals; Jimmy Crawford: Drums; Wendell Culley: Trumpet; Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Tenor Sax; Wild Bill Davis: Arranger; Eric Dixon: Flute, Tenor Sax; George Duvivier: Bass; Billy Eckstine: Vocals; Andy Fitzgerald: Flute; Frank Foster: Arranger, Tenor Sax; Charlie Fowlkes: Flute, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax; Freddie Green: Guitar; Al Grey: Trombone; Quentin Jackson: Trombone; Illinois Jacquet: Tenor Sax; Eddie Jones: Bass; Thad Jones: Trumpet, Arranger; Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: Vocals; Herbie Mann: Flute; Billy Mitchell: Clarinet, Tenor Sax; Sonny Payne: Drums; Benny Powell: Trombone; Irene Reid: Vocals; Flip Ricard: Trumpet; Marshall Royal: Clarinet, Alto Sax; Shirley Scott: Organ; Ralph Sharon: Piano, Arranger; Kirk Stuart: Piano; Sarah Vaughan: Vocals; Ben Webster: Tenor Sax; Frank Wess: Flute, Alto, Tenor Sax; Gerald Wiggins: Piano; Joe Williams: Vocals; Snooky Young: Trumpet.
Count Basie Story
Tracks: 1 Broadway (3:23); 2 Down for Double (2:59); 3 Lester Leaps In (4:17); 4 Topsy (3:42); 5 Jumpin' at the Woodside (3:11); 6 Taps Miller (3:22); 7 Shorty George (2:56); 8 Doggin' Around (3:01); 9 Avenue C (2:33); 10 Jive at Five (3:02); 11 Rock-A-Bye Basie (3:37); 12 Moten Swing (4:50); 13 Swingin' the Blues (3:17); 14 Sent for You Yesterday (3:09); 15 Tickle Toe (2: 36); 16 Blue and Sentimental (4:07); 17 Time Out (2:46); 18 9:20 Special (3:49); 19 Red Bank Boogie (2:15); 20 Every Tub (3:11); 21 Dickie's Dream (4:09); 22 Texas Shuffle (3:12); 23 Out the Window (2:52); 24 Boogie Woogie (I May Be Wrong) (3:06); 25 Good Morning Blues (2:52); 26 Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You (2:31).
Personnel: John Anderson: Trumpet; Count Basie: Piano; Sonny Cohn: Trumpet; Henry Coker: Trombone; Wendell Culley: Trumpet; Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Tenor Sax; Frank Foster Tenor: Sax; Charlie Fowlkes: Baritone Sax; Freddie Green: Guitar; Al Grey: Trombone; Bill Hughes: Trombone; Gus Johnson: Drums; Eddie Jones: Bass; Thad Jones: Trumpet; Billy Mitchell: Clarinet, Tenor Sax; Joe Newman: Trumpet; Jimmy Nottingham: Trumpet; Sonny Payne: Drums; Benny Powell: Trombone; Seldon Powell: Tenor Sax; Marshall Royal: Clarinet, Alto Sax; Frank Wess: Alto, Tenor Sax; Joe Williams: Vocals; Snooky Young: Trumpet.