362

Count Basie: Live at the Sands (before Frank)

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
The mid-'60s are regarded as a creative low point for the Count Basie Orchestra, but this live recording proves that the Basie band was as stylish and swingin' as ever in 1966, though fewer folks were paying attention. Recorded during a week-long stint at the Las Vegas Sands Hotel, this release compiles material from the band's opening sets prior to their performances with the main attraction that week, Frank Sinatra.

Live at the Sands serves as an excellent Basie sampler, in part because it offers many of the band's best-known tunes, including "Splanky," "Corner Pocket," "Jumpin' at the Woodside," and a spare version of "One O'Clock Jump," Basie's signature song. There are also a few graceful ballads, making this a well-rounded collection.

By itself, Quincy Jones' arrangement of "I Can't Stop Loving You" makes this CD worth the price. It's simply the best instrumental version of Don Gibson's country classic I have heard, and it may be the best version period. When those killer horns top off the chorus with a breathy flourish, it's one of those sublime touches that separates great music from the ordinary.

The performances at the Sands are also notable because they marked the return of three of Basie's best-known sidemen: trombonist Al Grey, tenor saxman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and drummer Sonny Payne. All three are featured prominently here, and they really deliver the goods. Grey's muted trombone leads the way on a mellow version of "Makin' Whoopee!," while Davis has several moments in the spotlight, including an extended solo on "Jumpin' at the Woodside," the CD's smoker.

Duke Ellington once credited Basie for having the best rhythm section in jazz. A great swing drummer has always sat at the heart of his orchestra, be he Philly Jo Jones, Rufus "Speedy" Jones, or Butch Miles, the band's current skins man. The flamboyant Sonny Payne rates with Basie's best, and on Live at the Sands he helps drive this music with his relentless swaying tempos.

William "Count" Basie had an unparalleled talent for stripping tunes down to their swinging essence. To this day, no big band swings with more riffing intensity and rhythmic precision. Young people who are into the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, or other pseudo jazz outfits simply must check out the swingingest music machine the world has yet seen, the Count Basie Orchestra. Live at the Sands serves an excellent introduction.

Title: Live at the Sands (before Frank) | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Reprise


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read No Matter Where Noir CD/LP/Track Review No Matter Where Noir
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Out Of Silence CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Plodi CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Secret Language CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Shamat CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "The Voice of Robert Desnos" CD/LP/Track Review The Voice of Robert Desnos
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "To the Bone" CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "NJO 40" CD/LP/Track Review NJO 40
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Shamat" CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Sektion 3-7" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 3-7
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Recorded Live in Lafayette" CD/LP/Track Review Recorded Live in Lafayette
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor