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Live Reviews

The Real Swing: Count Basie Orchestra

By Published: March 8, 2004
There was one switch not found in the old Basie book. Guitarist Will Mathews sat on a stool and did nothing but strum chords, chords, chords, as Freddy Green did for decades at Basie’s side without soloing. But in the second set, Matthews was featured playing both solo and with the trio, starting off with “Willow Weep for Me,” segueing into “Round Midnight,” then leading the band into a Basie staple, Hefti’s “Little Darlin’.”

Perhaps the standout number was “Blues in Hosses Flat,” by Foster, which started out roaring, with a hot, fiery solo by Barnhart, but eventually went into as soft and hushed a tone as a 19-piece band could possibly muster ... and it STILL swung.

The band can flat out cook.

Both sets ended with a short burst of the best-known Basie hit, “One O’Clock Jump.” That final blaring of all the brass, building to a crescendo then halting for those three soft, repeated notes on piano — “tink .... tink ....tink.” — is still exciting to hear. It also makes one wish that William Basie from Red Bank, N.J., was still the one plunking the keyboard.


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