Count Stops In - 2.27
I'll Always Be In Love With You - 2.46
Ebony Rhapody - 3.13
Riff Interlude - 3.40
Darn That Dream - 3.56
When My Dream Boat Comes Home - 2.07
Take It Prez - 3.37
Baby, Don't Tell On Me - 3.47
Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes - 2.15
John's Idea - 4.20
Song of the Wonderer - 2.17
Count Basie led his swinging band for nearly a half-century, creating a new band from the remnants of Bennie Moten’s Orchestra after his sudden death in 1935. Though a talented pianist, he held himself in reserve, putting his emphasis on his band and soloists, maintaining a first rate group in spite of changes in personnel. Building a sizable following around Kansas City, impresario John Hammond excitedly promoted him to New York record labels, where he was promptly signed by Decca. His earliest group featured tenor sax giant Lester Young, vocalist Jimmy Rushing, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Walter Page, drummer Joe Jones. With the big band era ending around 1950, Basie reverted to a smaller group for a time before forming the so-called “New Testament” band, with new faces including trumpeter/composer Thad Jones, saxophonist Frank Wess and Frank Foster, along with vocalist Joe Williams.
After recording for several labels, Basie’s signing to Norman Granz’s new Pablo label in the early 1970s provided him with unique opportunities, including memorable trio sessions with more focus on his piano playing, allstar jam sessions, recordings with Dizzy Gillespie and Zoot Sims, a number of meetings with piano giant Oscar Peterson, in addition to a host of albums featuring his full band. Basie’s final years will marked by bouts with ill-health, though he continued to play and record until a few months before his death from cancer on April 26, 1984.
The selections come from 1937 airchecks originating at Meadowbrook in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, or the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Basie introduces “One O’Clock Jump” with a brief piano solo before sharing the spotlight with Buck Clayton, Benny Morton, Lester Young and Walter Page in a swinging performance. The leader and Eddie Durham (who doubled on trombone and electric guitar) co-wrote “John’s Idea,” a peppy dance number with several potent choruses by Young. Jimmy Rushing is featured on several numbers, including a brisk treatment of “Dinah” showcasing Young as well, along with one of his signature works “Good Morning Blues,” which is buoyed by Basie’s superb backing and the novelty number “I Got Rhythm in Nursery Rhymes.” The Kansas City Swing machine is under full steam in support of Mister Five by Five’s strong vocal in the brisk, chugging “Shout It and Feel It.” The singer belts out his single chorus in “When My Dreamboat Comes Home,” the result of having had to work without a microphone in his early days and be heard above the band. Rushing is on hand for an upbeat setting of the bittersweet “The You and Me That Used to Be,” a song the singer would reprise on his final record date not long before his death in 1971.