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Count Basie: Basie's Beatles Bag

AAJ Staff By

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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 With The Beatles (EMI, 1963).

Revealing much about the tunes themselves, the album is also a fun party album. The faster hits are there, such as "Help," "A Hard Day's Night" and "Can't Buy Me Love," but the arrangement of "Do You Want To Know A Secret" shows the pure swing era influence in its writing. With its beautiful Johnny Hodges-style saxophone solo, it is far superior to The Beatles' version. "Michelle," also, has the authentic Basie touch, his piano evoking his '30s-era band.

The strong R&B origins of "Hold Me Tight" are clear here, its great back beat making it one of the album's most fruitful recreations. O'Farrill throws elements of Nelson Riddle into "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "All My Loving," his gifted understanding of the music also giving saxophonist Charlie Fowlkes a baritone part on "And I Love Her" (a very imaginative touch). "All My Loving" shows, however, that guitarist Freddie Green was no match for George Harrison's soloing capabilities.

Instrumentally daring, the grooving Basie's Beatles Bag casts new light on some classic songs, reveling in the rawer bluesy, swing and R&B roots of The Beatles' music.

Track Listing: Help; Can't Buy Me Love; Michelle; I Wanna Be Your Man; Do You Want to Know A Secret?; A Hard Day's Night; All My Loving; Yesterday; All My Loving; Yesterday; Hold Me Tight; And I Love Her; She Loves You; Kansas City.

Personnel: Al Aarons: trumpet; Sonny Cohn: trumpet; Wallace Davenport: trumpet; Phil Guilbeau: trumpet; Henderson Chambers: trombone; Al Grey: trombone; Grover Mitchell trombone; Bill Hughes: bass trombone; Marshall Royal: alto saxophone, clarinet; Bobby Plater alto saxophone, flute; Eddy Davis: tenor saxophone; Charlie Fowlkes: flute, baritone saxophone; Freddie Greene: guitar; Norman Keenan: bass; Sonny Payne: drums; Chico O'Farrill: arranger; Bill Henderson: vocal (8).

Title: Basie's Beatles Bag | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

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