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Swing Set

Count Basie: "One O'Clock Jump"

By Published: March 4, 2005


Like all great bands, this edition of the Basie band eventually ended as the members went their separate ways. Evans died of a heart condition at the age of 39, never quite reaching his potential as a soloist (some claim that they could hear an echo of Evans' style in Young's later playing.) Young left the Basie band for a time to front his own group, but came back in the early forties. He was drafted in 1944 and found the war to be a nightmarish experience that took a toll on his physical health. He began drinking, and many claim that his haunted, post-war playing was a mere shadow of his earlier achievements. One reviewer called him "weary, but still trying."

Basie for his part worked with small groups in the fifties for a brief time before forming a second big band featuring the ferocious arrangements of Neal Hefti (the two versions of the band are commonly referred to as "Old Testament" and "New Testament"). This version of the band resurrected Basie in popularity, recording classic albums like April in Paris and The Atomic Mr. Basie.

Young got one last crack at "One O'Clock Jump" with the Basie band at a Newport Jazz Festival appearance. Although ill health had ravaged the tenor player, he still turns in a commanding performance on the band's signature tune, along with other Basie alumni. Long afterward Basie was still ending concerts with "One O'Clock Jump" and the various member of the band never grew tired of it, finding new ways to rework the basic 12-bar blues to fit the times. To this day "One O'Clock Jump" is one of the best examples of the Kansas City style of big band playing.

"Count Basie", February 16, 2005.
Dance, Stanley. The World of Count Basie. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980.
Douglas, Henry Daniels. Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester "Pres" Young. Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.
Murray, Albert. Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie. New York: Random House, 1985.
Schuller, Gunther. The Swing Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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