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Count Basie

Read "Count Basie" reviewed by Bob Bernotas

In 1935, pianist William “Count" Basie (born August 21, 1904), a fixture on the jny: Kansas City jazz scene since the late 1920s, organized his own rocking, riffing, blues-based big band. The following year this freewheeling unit came east and took New York by storm. For the next decade and a half, Basie's stellar cast--which included ...

Clarinet

Read "Clarinet" reviewed by Bob Bernotas

When you hear the phrase, “New Orleans jazz," what three instruments immediately come to mid? That's right: cornet, trombone, and clarinet. In those early jazz combos, the clarinet provided a soaring, high register obbligato that enhanced, and, in the hands of the amazing Sidney Bechet, challenged, the cornet's lead line. A decade or so later, the ...

Tenor Saxophone

Read "Tenor Saxophone" reviewed by Bob Bernotas

Invented in the early 1840s, the saxophone was a relative latecomer to music--and to jazz. But starting in the mid-1920s, with the rise of the big bands, the instrument slowly but steadily evolved from a vaudeville novelty into a staple in the mainstream of jazz. Of the different varieties of saxophone, the tenor and the alto ...

Trombone

Read "Trombone" reviewed by Bob Bernotas

The trombone was an essential component of the brass parade bands that were a staple of black social and cultural life in many southern cities around the turn of the twentieth century. As these bands evolved into collectively improvising jazz ensembles, the trombone became an equal partner of the clarinet and cornet, filling in the root ...

Alto Saxophone

Read "Alto Saxophone" reviewed by Bob Bernotas

Of the many members of the saxophone family, the alto and tenor have emerged as its most prominent siblings. From the mid-1920s onward, many big band alto saxophonists have filled a dual role, best personified by the multi-talented Benny Carter, serving as the lead voice in the saxophone section as well as a featured solo improvisor. ...