Count Basie


The Golden Years

  • Release Date: 23 Aug 1996
  • 4PACD-4419-2

This lovingly assembled set presents a rich and musically inspiring overview of Basie's Pablo recordings. The live material on Disc 1 includes big band sessions captured in Santa Monica ('72) and Japan ('78) as well as all-star ensembles at the Montreux Jazz Festival ('75 and '77). Disc 2 focuses on small groups, with luminaries like Oscar Peterson, Zoot Sims, and Benny Carter, while Disc 3 is all big band, featuring some of the great Basie soloists: Al Grey, Jimmy Forrest, … MORE


Tree Frog, Swee' Pea, Ticker, Flirt, Blues for Alfy, Billie's Bounce, Festival Blues with Louis Bellson, Roy Eldridge… More

The essence of Kansas City wafts from the tracks of this album. How could it not, with Count Basie and Joe Turner in charge? The essence, of… More

Just a Dream on My Mind, Blues for Joe Turner, Blues for Joel, Everyday I Have the Blues, Blues Au Four, My Jug and I, Cherry Red, Apollo… More

Doubling Blues, Hanging Out, Red Bank Blues, One-Nighter, Freeport Blues with Louis Bellson, Ray Brown, J.J. Johnson… More

Several periods of renewal made the Basie band a fountainhead of orchestral jazz during Count Basie's lifetime and beyond. One such point was… More

The Heat's On, Freckle Face, Ja-Da, Things Ain't What They Used to Be, A Bit of This and a Bit of That, All of Me, Shiny Stockings, Left Hand… More

With Count Basie, Cleanhead Vinson, and Willie Cook all gone, there is cause for gratitude that Norman Granz thought in 1981 to bring them… More

In this edition of the Kansas City 7, Count Basie included three stalwarts of his Pablo adventures and three new to his small band efforts… More

The banjoist Elmer Snowden used the name Kansas City Five for recording groups in the 1920s. Oddly, Snowden was from Baltimore and Washington; he… More

The jam sessions led by Count Basie on the Pablo label are living textbooks on the common language of jazz. Basie Jam 2 is one of the… More

May 6, 1976 was a great day in the studio for Count Basie and seven of his closet friends. They jammed for hours and came up with enough material… More


Count Basie


Pianist/composer Count Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey August 21, 1904. Like his contemporary Duke Ellington, he was a musician whose style was first formed by the virtuosi of the Stride school, James P. Johnson and Thomas Fats Waller, although, again like Ellington, an irrepressible spark of originality made it possible for him to amend that style into something utterly personal. His rise to bandleader was both gradual and unpremeditated, for it was as a member of Benny Moten’s band that he found himself, after Moten’s death in 1936, almost pushed into control. Within two years the Basie band was first nationally and then internationally famous, and with one short interlude, 1950-51, he fronted a big band, evolving as personal trademarks all the niceties of precise ensemble phrasing allied to a unique sense of group relaxation.

His various orchestras are remembered for several different things, from repertoire (“One O’clock Jump,” “April in Paris”) to singers (particularly James Rushing and Joe Williams), and one of his special virtues was his infallible good taste in picking tenor saxophonists, including Lester Young, Paul Gonsalves, Don Byas, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. His piano playing was somewhat eclipsed by an excessive modesty, but he was the originator of a style remarkable for its melodic wit as well as for its stringent economy. This economy, however, was likely to spill over at any time into the muscularity of the Stride school, a habit he found invaluable in his role as a setter of tempos who was never known to make a mistake. His great achievement was his uncanny success in bringing to the disciplines of a large group the ease and expansiveness which years ago might only have been found in the Kansas City joints of his youth.

Count Basie died April 26, 1984.