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Count Basie & His Orchestra: Good Time Blues

Chris M. Slawecki By

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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 ), Neal Hefti ("Cute ), and Sammy Nestico ("Magic Flea ), plus such pop and jazz classics as "A Night in Tunisia, "Summertime, and "Frankie and Johnnie.

The orchestra begins by "Hittin' Twelve, a colorful arrangement rocked with boogie-woogie from bassist Norman Keenan which leaves drummer Harold Jones free to go off like a one-man bomb squad. The drummer's turns in "Frankie and Johnnie and a furiously paced "Summertime combine propulsive washes and rolls punctuated by explosive bass drum and splash cymbal bombs. Jones thumps and coaxes from his kit an exotic backdrop to the bebop classic "Tunisia, a tonal painting vibrant with the colors and rhythms of both bebop and orchestral swing.

Good Time Blues reserves an almost uncharacteristic amount of musical space for the good Count. The title track, for example, opens with just a piano trio in which the principal truly shines up his blues and boogies. Basie also stretches throughout the nine-minute "I Needs To Be Bee'd With, softly jabbing single notes and strumming chords in a flowing blues rocked gently in the cradle by Green's nearly funky rhythm guitar, topped like a cherry with "Sweets ' exquisite blue moan of a trumpet solo. When the arrangement opens up the smaller quintet into the large ensemble, swaying horns swing this baby home.

All heck breaks loose as the full ensemble tears straight from "One O'Clock Jump into "Jumpin' at the Woodside to bring down the curtain. With Basie astride his piano rocking horse, riding roughshod on a stomping, swinging big band, it seems almost impossible to resist saddling up to gallop along for the ride.

Track Listing: Hittin

Personnel: Count Basie, piano; Gene Coe, Sonny Cohn, Harry

Title: Good Time Blues | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

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