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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: Sinatra-Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings

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Fifty years ago, Reprise Records heralded its first release. The label was founded by singer/actor/entertainer Frank Sinatra, who had been with Capitol Records since 1953 and was yearning for total creative freedom; something he felt was denied to him, despite his enormous commercial and critical success. His own first release on the label was, not surprisingly, ebullient, and with Concord Records now handling Sinatra's Reprise catalog, Ring-a-Ding, Ding! (1961) has been remastered, along with My Way (1969) and Strangers in the Night (1966). Unlike the other releases to date Sinatra-Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Count Basie: Basie's Beatles Bag

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Many recording artists covered The Beatles in the '60s; even their own producer, George Martin, released George Martin Instrumentally Salutes The Beatle Girls (One Way, 1966). Pianist/bandleader Count Basie recorded two albums of Beatles tunes in that decade: Basie's Beatles Bag (Verve, 1966) and Basie On The Beatles (Happy Tiger, 1969). Both discs contain vital versions of John Lennon/Paul McCartney classics, but Basie's Beatles Bag is rawer and more cohesive. Arranged by Chico O'Farrill, it selects some of the more rough and ready Beatles songs, back to “Hold Me Tight" and “I Wanna Be Your Man," from ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Count Basie: Live in Berlin & Stockholm 1968

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Count Basie Live in Berlin & Stockholm 1968 Impro Jazz 2009

Every jazz fan, while listening to an album by one of their favorite legends of the genre, occasionally closes their eyes to imagine what it might have been like actually to be there for the recording itself. Due to the fact that jazz performances and recording sessions were in the past so rarely filmed (and because time travel has yet to be perfected), it's always a treat to see the true greats in action on the TV screen. Impro Jazz has ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Count Basie: Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 20: Mustermesse Basel 1956, Pt. 2; On My Way & Shoutin' Again! & Swinging, Singing, Playing

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Count Basie OrchestraSwiss Radio Days, Vol. 20: Mustermesse Basel 1956, Pt. 2 TCB2009 Count BasieOn My Way & Shoutin' Again!Verve2009 Count Basie OrchestraSwinging, Singing, PlayingMack Avenue2009 If the rhythm section of Count Basie's Old Testament big band of the '30s-40s is remembered as the “All-American Rhythm Section," then the New Testament big band of the later '50s-60s deserves the appellation All-American big band. As sleek, propulsive ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Count Basie Orchestra: Swinging, Singing, Playing

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Count Basie OrchestraSwinging, Singing, PlayingMack Avenue2009 Although over a quarter-century has elapsed since the passing of William “Count" Basie in 1984, the bandleader and pianist's legacy has proved one of the most durable from the big band era, and the Basie band's Swinging, Singing, Playing maintains the Basie tradition and carries it triumphantly into the new millennium. Dennis Wilson (not to be confused with his late Beach Boys namesake), who served in the Basie trombone section from 1977-87, first under Basie himself, then under Thad Jones and Frank Foster, returns to conduct ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Columbia/Legacy Signature Series: Count Basie & The Brecker Brothers

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Memories stay intact with treasures like these. Columbia/Legacy's claim that their Signature Series includes “the greatest songs by the greatest artists has considerable credibility. Personal opinions notwithstanding, these are indeed among of the best recordings to come out of the Columbia, Bluebird and Arista labels and the series looks set to preserve a valuable portion of jazz history. Each disc comes with thorough discographical annotation, a brief biography of the artist, and a few photos.

Count Basie One O'Clock Jump Columbia/Legacy 2006

Recorded between 1936 and 1942, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ray Charles & the Count Basie Orchestra: Ray Sings, Basie Swings

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There is no recipe for success...or is there? Concord's Ray Sings, Basie Swings, reminiscent of past crossover duos, draws upon state-of-the-art technological means to propose a premium posthumous montage. Does this sound formulaic and forced? Maybe, but in the end, they credibly made it more musically attractive than say, yet another best of greatest hits compilation.

Spearheaded by Senior VP of A&R John Burk and producer/drummer Gregg Field, the serendipitous project does swing. And, like Genius Loves Company (Concord, 2004), its Grammy-winning predecessor, Concord retains the promotional support of Starbucks Hear Music's meticulously plotted brand development strategy. Recently, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Count Basie Orchestra: Basie Is Back

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No, the Count isn't literally back... in fact, he's never really been away, as the Count Basie Orchestra has kept rolling along under a series of leaders since Basie's death in April 1984. This latest incarnation, directed by the Count's longtime bass trombonist Bill Hughes, was recorded in concert in October '05 at Denryoku Hall in Sendai, Japan. Following in the footsteps of Basie's Old Testament and New Testament bands, Aaron Woodward writes in his liner notes, “We are calling this the 'Born Again' era of the Count Basie Orchestra.

Having seen the orchestra in person less than a year ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Count Basie: Good Time Blues

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Is there any sound more timeless in all of jazz than that of the Basie Orchestra? The title of this new Pablo release might be a perfect description of the essence of the Basie band--except one might add the word swingin'. This is the band that perfected a sound and a feeling that define what's best about jazz, and especially big band jazz: brilliant ensemble sound; players who understand the notion of playing together, but also of making smart and economic solo statements; and a leader who with no seeming effort directs his band to make music that combines excitement ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Count Basie Orchestra and Vocalist Lizz Wright

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The Count Basie Orchestra and Vocalist Lizz Wright The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA May 6, 2005

During this past concert season, the Mellon Jazz Festival at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, has offered a number of double bills, perhaps to provide variety and contrast, suggest comparisons, and include more artists. The pairing of rising star Lizz Wright with the venerable Count Basie Orchestra made for a powerful dialectic between soulful ballads with a backup of two guitars and a rhythm section versus the fast-paced, swinging energy of the Basie band. The common threads that ran through the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Count Basie & His Orchestra: Good Time Blues

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Recorded in Budapest, this previously unissued 1970 performance proves that nobody could make feeling the blues swing good and hard like Count Basie. Especially when fronting a typically first-rate orchestra, in this case featuring Eddie “Lockjaw Davis on tenor sax, returning son Harry “Sweets Edison (who first played with Basie in the late 1930s) on trumpet, and guitarist Freddie (no nickname given) Green.

This encyclopedic set runs as wide and broad and deep as a river, featuring arrangements by Davis ("Light and Lovely ), Benny Carter ("Sunset Glow ), Quincy Jones ("I Needs to Be Bee'd With ), ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Count Basie: 100th Birthday Bash & The Count Basie Story

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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 Count Basie and Friends: 100th Birthday Bash Blue Note 2004

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 ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Ella & Basie '79: The Perfect Match

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Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux Ella & Basie '79: The Perfect Match Eagle Rock Entertainment 64 minutes 2004

This disc is lucky to emerge from the flames of failed expectations and end up merely average.

Ella & Basie '79: The Perfect Match is an 85-minute concert DVD whose very title is misleading - Count Basie appears for only one song at the end of a good, not great, performance by Ella Fitzgerald at the 1979 Montreux Jazz Festival. The rest of the time she's backed by her ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Count Basie: The Count Basie Story

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To mark the Count Basie Orchestra's silver anniversary in 1960, Roulette Records released a double album comprised of updated versions of many of the band's classic recordings from those twenty-five years. This double-disc set, one of two issued by Roulette to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Basie's birth (the other is Count Basie & Friends ), embodies the twenty-six songs renovated during those sessions in 1957-60.

As most of the old arrangements had been memorized by the band, and others were “head" arrangements that had never been written down, tenor saxophonist Frank Foster was given the task of listening to ...



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