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.

| Record Label: Reprise | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Steam In The Casa" CD/LP/Track Review Steam In The Casa
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Invitation" CD/LP/Track Review Invitation
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "New Life" CD/LP/Track Review New Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "All My Treasures" CD/LP/Track Review All My Treasures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!