March 3, 2015

Count Basie

William ‘Count’ Basie is beloved by all, and for me, he was my first love. Finding Jumpin’ At The Woodside (1939) early in my dance career, he was all I wanted to dance to. However, as I matured as a dancer, DJ and music nerd, I found several amazing tracks that rivaled Jumpin’ At the Woodside (Traffic Jam, Jam Session, Flyin’ Home, etc…)

Without any empirical evidence, I would posit that Basie is the most played musician of all time (in the modern swing community); and for good reason. Basie created the most influential, well-known, and famous rhythm section of all time.

  • Count Basie – piano
  • Walter page – bass
  • Jo Jones – drums
  • Freddy Green – guitar

There is not a rhythm section ever created that will or has rivaled what Basie and his boys did.

I have also found that my Basie tastes have changed dramatically over the years. When I first started dancing, I had a preference for Old Testament Basie (pre 1952 band), then I have moved slowly into New Testament Basie (post 1952 band). Now, I think I am somewhere in between. If I had to choose, it would be New Testament Basie.  WWHHHHAAAAA!  I know, I know.

I love the layer backed rhythm of his music in this period, no matter the tempo. It is the hardest swingin’ band ever to be heard live or recorded. The precision, energy, and mood that the band consistently played with is rivaled by none.

With the Old Testament recordings, I find myself to be more particular in my selections; making my choices song to song. Versus the New Testament recordings, I can put on an entire album and listen start to finish without pause.

Here is a current list of favorites (both Old and New Testament):

  • C-Jam Blues (unknown, but definitely New Testament IMO)
  • Splanky (1977)
  • Swingin At Newport (1957)
  • One O’Clock Jump (1957)
  • JATW (1939)
  • Shout and Feel It (1964, yes I was surpised too!)
  • Swinging the Blues (1938/9)
  • Dogging Around (1938)

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Music and Dance