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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 946





Tracks 1-10: ‘April In Paris’

1. April In Paris
2. Corner Pocket
3. Did’n You
4. Sweety Cakes
5. Magic
6. Shiny Stockings
7. What Am I Here For
8. Midgets
9. Mambo Inn
10. Dinner With Friends
Tracks 11-20: ‘King Of Swing’

11. Cherry Point
12. Bubbles
13. Right On
14. The Blues Done Come Back
15. Plymouth Rock
16. I Feel Like A New Man
17. You For Me
18. Soft Drink
19. Two For The Blues
20. Slow But Sure

Tracks 1-11: ‘The Atomic Mr Basie'

1. The Kid From Red Bank
2. Duet
3. After Supper
4. Flight Of The Foo Birds
5. Double-O
6. Teddy The Toad
7. Whirly- Bird
8. Midnite Blue
9. Splanky
10. Fantail
11. Li'l Darlin’
Tracks 12-23: 'The Greatest! - Count Basie Plays, Joe Williams Sings Standards'

12. Thou Swell
13. There Will Never Be Another You
14. Our Love Is Here To Stay
15. ‘S Wonderful
16. My Baby Just Cares For Me
17. Nevertheless
18. Singin’ In The Rain
19. I’m Beginning To See The Light
20. A Fine Romance
21. Come Rain Or Come Shine
22. I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me

23. This Can’t Be Love

There are so many classics on this double album that it leaves one almost breathless. As they are so well-known, there's no need to go into much detail. Suffice it to say that the Count Basie Band reached a peak with these recordings from the 1950s - particularly The Atomic Mr Basie. For me, that album captured for the first time the real powerful excitement of Basie's band, with superfine recording of eleven tracks all written and arranged by Neal Hefti. The remastering people at Avid have opted for the mono recording of this album rather than the stereo version - because of faults they find with the latter. The sound is all right but it sounds slightly boxy compared to the stereo recording many people will be familiar with.

Nevertheless, Hefti composed some memorable material for the band to swing on, including The Kid From Red Bank and Splanky. The latter includes some superb drumming from Sonny Payne, which really makes the climax tell. Other highlights are the various storming solos from tenorist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and, of course, the remarkable Lil' Darlin', taken at such a slow tempo that you keep expecting it to fall apart - which it never does, because of the superb control of the section playing and the perfection of Wendell Culley's muted trumpet solo.

The three other albums in this collection can't match The Atomic Mr Basie in consistently incredible playing and arrangements, but they are still very worth having - especially at Avid's budget price. The title track of April in Paris is rightly famous for its surprise triple ending (again, propelled by drummer Sonny Payne) and its unusual take on a well-worn tune. This album also contains such classic tracks as Corner Pocket and Shiny Stockings.

The earlier album King of Swing has a less exciting recorded sound but it includes such memorable items as Neal Hefti's Cherry Point and Two For The Blues. The last of these four classic albums, The Greatest!!, features Joe Williams's smooth, bluesy voice in a dozen jazz standards. The arrangements are by Buddy Bregman, who can't quite come up to Neal Hefti's standards, but few arrangers could.

The only thing left to say about this bargain package it!

Tony Augarde





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