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

Jim Santella By

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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

Recorded between 1936 and 1942, the sessions on this compilation feature Count Basie and his orchestra in all their swingin' glory. With saxophonists Lester Young, Don Byas and Earle Warren, trumpeters Harry "Sweets" Edison, Buck Clayton and Al Killian, singer Jimmy Rushing and drummer Jo Jones carrying the load, Basie made an indelible impression on big band swing. His rhythm section was definitive, his horn sections faced each other with class, and his soloists knew what jazz meant from the inside out. And Basie himself was a subtle pianist who could coax emotion and humanity out of the keys. His light touch and rhythmic dexterity brought a quality to big band music that few others could achieve.

When Rushing sings "Goin' To Chicago Blues, you know you're in blues heaven. Basie and the band were able to capture that certain mid-America passion without artifice, just by being there and living it. All that's missing from this disc is trumpeter Clark Terry, for he was to join the band later. Through the years, many outstanding musicians have passed through Basie's band. This group from the late 1930s/early 1940s set the bar high for everyone who followed to find.

The Brecker Brothers
Sneakin' Up Behind You

From the late 1970s and early 1980s comes this compilation of Brecker Brothers favorites culled from five Arista albums. The ten selections feature the trumpet and saxophone team of Randy and Michael Brecker in their prime, at a time when funk and jazz/rock was their chosen direction. Jaco Pastorius and Blood, Sweat & Tears had left their influence.

The two brothers got a lot of sound out of their organizations, numbering anywhere from 6 to 9 players and focusing on the leaders' horns. The band was popular and accessible, and yet it allowed for some exciting improvised action. Readers unfamiliar with The Brecker Brothers' music need only to think of the house band that appears today on Saturday Night Live for a close comparison. A hot band with a contemporary voice makes for a night of great happenings. Electric guitar, electric bass and the use of synthesizers & ring modulators gave this band a leading-edge texture. Both the Breckers went on to other projects, but they never forgot the fun they had making these sessions. Neither will many other people.

Tracks and Personnel

One O'Clock Jump

Tracks: One O'Clock Jump; Boogie Woogie (I May Be Wrong); Oh, Lady Be Good; Lester Leaps In; Rock-a-Bye Basie; Taxi War Dance; Miss Thing; Clap Hands! Here Comes Charlie; Tickle Toe; Broadway; Goin' To Chicago Blues; Moten Swing; Jumpin' At The Woodside.

Personnel: Count Basie: leader, piano; Buck Clayton, Harry Edison, Carl Smith, Shad Collins, Al Killian, Ed Lewis: trumpet; Dickie Wells, Robert Scott, Eli Robinson, Ed Cuffee, Dan Minor, Benny Morton, Vic Dickenson: trombone; Tab Smith: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Caughey Roberts, Earle Warren: alto saxophone; Buddy Tate, Lester Young, Don Byas: tenor saxophone; Jack Washington: baritone saxophone; Freddie Green: guitar; Walter Page: double bass; Jo Jones: drums; Jimmy Rushing: vocal.

Sneakin' Up Behind You

Tracks: Sneakin' Up Behind You; Some Skunk Funk; Funky Sea, Funky Dew; Tabula Rasa; Threesome; Squish; Baffled; Straphangin'; Jacknife; Inside Out.

Personnel: Randy Brecker: trumpet, keyboards; Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone; David Sanborn: alto saxophone; Bob Mann, Barry Finnerty, Steve Khan, Hiram Bullock: guitar; Don Grolnick, Doug Riley, Mark Gray: keyboards; George Duke: synthesizers; Neil Jason, Marcus Miller: bass; Will Lee: bass, vocals; Steve Jordan, Harvey Mason, Chris Parker, Lenny White, Terry Bozzio, Richie Morales: drums; Airto Moreira, Sammy Figueroa, Manolo Badrena, Ralph McDonald, Rafael Cruz: percussion.


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