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.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.