Count Basie And His Orchestra – Basic Basie (1969/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 33:47 minutes | 636 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: e-Onkyo | Front Cover | © MPS
The MPS label scored a coup when they were able to set up a recording date with the Basie orchestra. It took place on October 20th, 1969 at Universal Studios in Chicago. As agreed upon, the band brought along standards from the Basie book, and the Count fulfilled MPS head Hans Georg Brunner-Schwers wish that Basie play longer piano passages than usual; normally Basie limited himself to a short riff here and there. The way Basie and his orchestra played reminded me of a top long distance runner, producer Sonny Lester commented in the liner notes to the album. He went on to say that the bands playing was, disciplined, clean, with such a feel for timing and teamwork that you had the feeling that every band member was guided by the same brain. The best-known names in that particular group were tenor saxophonist Eddie Lockjaw Davis and guitarist Freddie Green, a Basie mainstay over the decades.
When it comes to swinging big band jazz there are always the familiar names at the top of the list-Goodman, Dorsey, Ellington, and of course Basie. And whenever their work happens to get another life as from some newly discovered archived performance, or a reissue of an out of print album, it is easy to see why. Great soloists, tight ensemble work: these outfits are the crowning glory of the middle of the last century. So when that antique material comes available, you don’t want to miss out on it.
The German record company MPS is in the process of releasing remastered CDs of music from its back catalog. Among those releases is a fine 1969 recording of the Count Basie Orchestra, Basic Basie. This is an album that had also been released in the U.S. by Verve, both as a single LP and a two-LP set. The MPS reissue is limited to the single. Featured on the album are Basie’s tenor saxophone stalwart, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, guitarist Freddie Green, and trumpeter Oscar Brashear. In addition Basie, at the request of MPS head Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, did a lot more on the piano than was his normal practice. Chico O’Farrill, though best known for his Afro-Cuban music, handled the arrangements on all but one of the album’s dozen tunes with a real feel for the Basie vibe. Tenor sax man and flautist Eric Dixon gets credit for the haunting arrangement of “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You”. The majority of the album consists of selections from the Great American Songbook. Basie’s piano introduces a fine version of the classic “Moonglow” and a shorter preface to a laid back “Sweet Lorraine.” He comes back later in the number to take the tune to conclusion. He is also spotlighted on a torrid “Ain’t Misbehaving”. The set opens with the uptempo “Idaho” and closes with a sweetly syncopated “I’ve Got the World on a String.” They have fun with a witty arrangement of a novelty number like “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me” and riffing their way through Basie’s original “M-Squad”. “Blues in My Heart”. “Red Roses for a Blue Lady”, “Don’t Worry Bout Me”, and “As Long as I Live” complete this lively trip to Basie country.
01 – Idaho
02 – Blues In My Heart
03 – I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You
04 – Red Roses For A Blue Lady
05 – Moonglow
06 – Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me
07 – M – Squad
08 – Sweet Loraine
09 – Ain’t Misbehavin’
10 – Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
11 – As Long As I Live
12 – I’ve Got The World On A String