The Count Basie Orchestra
Tradition is a part of the fabric of all societies, weaving its way through the ages, passed on through generations. As baseball is to Wrigley Field and America, the Count Basie Orchestra is to big-band jazz and the world.
For over 55 years, the Count Basie Orchestra has been performing somewhere on this planet, introducing millions of people to an original American art form -- namely, jazz, presented in a distinctive big-band style originated by William "Count" Basie. While musically moving forward with the times, the band has never lost its roots and tradition, combining the elements of blues, simplicity and swing.
Through the years, the music of the Count Basie Orchestra has transcended hard times, financial difficulties, discrimination and death -- but kept on swinging -- sustained by the love of generations of fans throughout the world. As Lena Horne once remarked, "Count Basie isn't just a man, or even a band. He's a way of life."
William "Count" Basie was a member of Bennie Moten's band in 1935. When Moten passed away, Basie got some of the sidemen to join him, and started a group of his own. John Hammond heard the band on a live radio broadcast from the Reno Club in Kansas City and brought them to New York in 1936. It was there that they did their first record for Decca in January of 1937. By the end of the year, the Count Basie Orchestra was world famous and remains so to this day.
Basie died in 1984 at age 80, but he left behind a legacy in jazz history that is unsurpassed in the annals of music today, and one that continues to grow under the virtuosic leadership of composer / arranger / tenor saxophonist Frank Foster.
While the majority of the orchestra's members have been with the ensemble for many years (which means they were hired by Count Basie himself), the current configuration of the Count Basie Orchestra has members ranging from only a few months to 35 years with the band.
In addition to numerous recordings (over 75), playing venues world-wide, making motion picture and television appearances, the Count Basie Orchestra has won every major jazz poll in the world at least once.
The Count Basie Orchestra has achieved many firsts during the last half century: first U.S. band to play a Royal Command Performance for the Queen of England; first all-Black big band to ever play the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and, first big jazz band to perform in many countries of the world. Many new generations around the globe have been turned on to the Basie tradition in big band jazz music. It is a forgone conclusion that the Count Basie Orchestra is here to stay, and will be gratifying jazz fans for generations to come.
The Basie tradition -- the music -- ;is an international treasure and legend, appreciated and loved by music fans all over the world.
The Count Basie Orchestra joined Telarc in 1992 with Count Basie Orchestra-Live at El Morocco.