The Count Basie Band in all its multiplicity of incarnations was, and still is, a jazz institution. From its Kansas City beginnings to its various resurgences after the Count’s passing into the great jazz hereafter it’s held a stature rivaling that of the Ellington dynasty. Back in 58’ when this session was waxed Basie was still among the living and it was a common occurrence for his sidemen old and new to stage reunion’s honoring their bandleader. The second of two Prestige dates under the erstwhile leadership of first tenor chair Quinichette (the first being the equally excellent For Basie) the emphasis is firmly set on revisiting chestnuts from earlier Basie songbooks. Brimming with talent from bands past and present the one-shot aggregation places a premium on expansive individual solos and relaxed first-rate swing.
The Clayton-penned “Blues Jumped Out” works as a tonic to get the group in gear and benefits from a brief, but expressive statement from the under recorded Washington. Clayton follows up with a mellow turn before an amicable close. Conversely, “John’s Idea” is a smoker from start to finish as the rhythm section lights a blazing fire under the horns goading them to a fever pitch of expressive heights. Clayton is particularly flamboyant dancing a fleet-valved foxtrot atop the unison vamping of his partners. Not to be upstaged Washington blows in with a burner of his own before Quinichette’s rousing rundown of the melody takes things out. “Baby Don’t Tell On Me” is the flipside, cooling things off to a slow boil over the tasteful comping of Pierce and the swaying harmonies of the horns. Collins is the star here on the solo front turning a no frills slice of blues that again incites Washington to answer from deep within the viscera of his sax. This disc a winner on a variety of fronts: as an opportunity to hear Basie alum paying inspired homage to their employer, and as a rare opportunity to hear Washington cut loose in the company of his peers. Recommended wholeheartedly to any and all hepcats still practicing or reformed.
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