Basie Men Rule
When the Basie band arrived in New York it didn't take long for the star soloists and rhythm men to find recording gigs in pick-up groups under other leaders. With one exception these tracks feature at least two or more Count Basie alumni in various settings. Originally from Kansas, they had been heard by John Hammond, on the radio. His efforts to get them a nationwide audience is well documented, and in the end they achieved success. Of the recordings from that first year, we find some featuring Billie Holiday, both with Teddy Wilson and under her own name, and in most cases the accompaniment includes her musical soul-mate, Lester Young on tenor sax, Buck Clayton on trumpet and the famous Green, Page and Jones rhythm section. Teddy Wilson had been using pick-up groups to back Billie for some eighteen months, and on the first date with the Basie men, Benny Goodman is still there - she had known him since her first recording at the age of eighteen, singing with his band. She was now a mature vocalist with an identifiable style and sound who could turn trite material into art. Comparing her version of He Ain't Got Rhythm with that of Jimmy Rushing on the opening track is in itself an example of her ability to add humour through inflection in an almost throwaway manner. A few 'outsiders' turn up at some sessions , and these include Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, Buster Bailey and Ed Hall. No harm in that. Mildred Bailey was another vocalist of the time with an instantly recognizable style and quality. Usually she was accompanied by a band led by her husband Red Norvo, but here, the backing is by an all-star pick-up group with Herchel Evans on tenor and Buck Clayton on trumpet plus the Basie rhythm section. Both Evans and Clayton take fine solos, with Buck also playing obligato to the vocal on If You Should Ever Leave. We could go on - suffice it to say that this set offers probably the greatest variety of settings in which Basie alumni were featured.
Label: JSP Records
Release Date: 07/12/05
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