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Paul Quinichette: Like Basie

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: Paul Quinichette: Like Basie
Like any business concerned with making a profit, the record industry has often resorted to questionable concepts, tributes, or other hooks to lure more costumers to their product. Currently we find ourselves in an era where the quality of original music is arguably on the decline, thus it has become even more prevalent to use nostalgia as a selling point. While ghost bands and one-off tributes may be a way to bring a new audience to the music of some memorable American artists, all too often these projects involve musicians and executives who are far removed from the original personalities and music involved.

Unlike this present state of affairs, there was a time in the '50s and '60s when a longing for earlier jazz styles produced a good number of outstanding albums. Most prevalent was an effort by labels to record elder statesmen steeped in the Dixieland tradition, a movement that ultimately proved quite valuable not only for kindling the careers of many men who had gone unrecorded for years, but also for leaving us music of this style in a fidelity that was easier to listen to and admire.

Swing musicians who had previously fallen out of favor with record labels as bop and its various derivatives became the new thing also benefited during this period of rediscovery. Although he had already been a working musician and veteran of many big bands during the '40s, tenor man Paul Quinichette was just one of many swing era musicians who was able to lead his own sessions and appear as a sideman on many other projects during these heydays of the late '50s. He also took advantage of his previous experience with Count Basie and his stylistic similarity to Lester Young to front three special undertakings in the spirit of the Basie tradition, the one you're currently holding in your hands being the most obscure of the lot.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's put the session at hand into perspective. Although much has been said and written to suggest Quinichette was merely a Lester Young clone, down to the "Vice Pres" that became his moniker, the fact remains that he was in truth a vital player who just happened to work a few of Young's more popular devices into his own vernacular. Two albums from 1957 best illustrate this point, with Quinichette holding his own alongside John Coltrane (Cattin' with Coltrane and Quinichette) and Charlie Rouse (The Chase Is On). While Quinichette's swing sensibilities are certainly audible, he's no less an engaging soloist even in the company of these more contemporary stylists.

Having proven himself capable of delivering the goods regardless of genre, it's curious to note that Quinichette chose to emphasize music from an earlier time even as this served to further reinforce the notion that he was following Young's lead a tad too closely. Although he played with the Count Basie band for only about a year in the mid '50s, Quinichette never tired of mining trinkets from the band's book. In the fall of 1957 he would lead For Basie, the first of two retro projects for Prestige, followed the next year by Basie Reunion. Coming hard on the heals of the later, Bob Brookmeyer's Kansas City Revisited done for United Artists in October of '58 would also feature Quinichette in a tribute to Basie's iconic swing. Possibly coming about due to his appearance on this set, the tenor man would go on to lead his own session for the label some five months to the date.

Like Basie essentially brings things full circle by featuring an ensemble made up principally of former Basie sidemen, with trumpeter Shad Collins, Eddie Jones, Jo Jones, and Freddie Green taking part in one or more of Quinichette's previously mentioned projects. Interestingly enough, pianist Nat Pierce not only appeared on the two Prestige sessions but is also on the Brookmeyer sides and would go on to participate in many more swing retrospectives including the classic 1961 album Jazz Reunion with Pee Wee Russell and Coleman Hawkins.

With four trumpets and trombone in the lead, Quinichette leads a brass heavy nonet that sounds surprisingly close to a full-fledged big band and the program includes two early Basie numbers, namely "Jump the Blues Away" from 1941 and "Jump For Me" from 1939. Not much is needed in terms of a detailed track analysis. Music of this variety transcends time and its ebullient nature makes its extremely accessible even as it possesses much in the way of substance. The longest track of the set, "The Holy Main" brings forth some particularly noteworthy blowing from Quinichette, his low register squawks not unlike some of the very same devices that would make Gene Ammons a hot commodity in the early '60s.

Sadly, Quinichette would not be as lucky as Ammons, quickly falling out of favor with listeners more attuned to the hard bop practitioners of the period. In fact, the saxophonist would leave the music business altogether not long after Like Basie appeared and a try for a comeback in 1977 would be cut short by his death a mere six years later. Far less heard than even heard about, Like Basie will give fans of swing music much to savor and hopefully its reissue will help earn the Quinichette legacy the respect it deserves, something that seems to have eluded the man while he was on this planet.


Liner Notes copyright © 2024 C. Andrew Hovan.

Like Basie can be purchased here.

C. Andrew Hovan Contact C. Andrew Hovan at All About Jazz.
An avid audiophile and music collector, Chris Hovan is a Cleveland-based writer / photographer / musician.

Track Listing

Jump The Blues Away; Jump For Me; Like Basie; The Holy Main; Big D; P.Q.

Personnel

Paul Quinichette
saxophone, tenor
Al Grey
trombone
Snooky Young
trumpet
Dick Vance
trumpet
Freddie Green
guitar, acoustic
Eddie Jones
bass, acoustic
Jo Jones
drums

Album information

Title: Like Basie | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Mighty Quinn Productions


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