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

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Basie Swings Standards

Pablo 0888072312401



  1. Lester Leaps In
  2. Too Close For Comfort
  3. Sweet Georgia Brown
  4. Satin Doll
  5. Jumpin' at the Woodside  
  6. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  7. Strike Up The Band
  8. In A Mellotone
  9. There Will Never Be Another You
  10. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
  11. Li'l Darlin'
  12. One O'Clock Jump

Collective personnel:
Count Basie - Piano
Chris Woods, Kenny Hing, Eric Dixon, Danny Turner, Jimmy Forrest, Johnny Williams, Bobby Plater, Charlie Fowlkes - Saxes, flutes,
Lyn Biviano, Waymon Reed, Dale Carley, Willie Cooke, Jim Crawford, Jack Feierman, Dave Stahl, Pete Minger, Ray Brown, Frank Szabo, John Thomas , Sonny Cohn, Bob Summers, Bobby Mitchell, Paul Cohen - Trumpets
Mel Wanzo, Curtis Fuller, Mitchell Wood, Dennis Wilson, Fred Wesley, Grover Mitchell, Al Grey, Bill Hughes - Trombones
Freddie Green - Guitar
James Leary, John Clayton, John Duke, Keter Betts, Cleveland Eaton - Bass
Dennis Mackrel, Gregg Field, Mickey Roker, Butch Miles - Drums 

Count Basie's band is not exactly renowned for playing jazz standards, especially as many of their early recordings were "head" arrangements, invented by the band itself. This CD is a rather strange compilation, as it includes standard repertoire such as Sweet Georgia Brown and Strike up the Band plus such numbers as Li'l Darlin' and One O'Clock Jump which were first recorded by the Basie band and were then taken up by other musicians. The result is a mixture of reruns of some of Basie's greatest hits alongside well-known standards.

The recordings were made between 1975 and 1983 for Norman Granz's Pablo label. As the Count died in 1984, the bands were among the last of many great Basie ensembles. There are occasional signs that things ain't quite what they used to be, as when the opening sax solo in Lester Leaps In sounds uncoordinated or Basie's piano introduction to Jumpin' at the Woodside falters momentarily. Yet the band never lost its ability to swing easily, from the fast tempo of Lester Leaps In to the still incredibly leisurely progress of Li'l Darlin'.

Talking of Things Ain't What They Used To Be, this is one of three songs in which Basie pays tribute to that other great bandleader, Duke Ellington. These include In a Mellotone in which the Count capriciously goes into double tempo in the middle of his introduction, and a version of Satin Doll in which Freddie Green's guitar can be clearly heard - an essential but often barely audible ingredient in Basie bands for almost 50 years. The last five tracks were recorded at Montreux in the 1970s and certainly have a "live" presence, with the drums of Mickey Roker or Butch Miles propelling the band marvellously.

Other notable tracks include Too Close for Comfort, which has a booting solo from an unidentified tenorist, and On the Sunny Side of the Street, which features vibist Milt Jackson as well as some lovely piano from Basie.

I can't say that this is an essential album for your collection but it is a useful sampler of late-era Basie, clearly recorded and mostly retaining the qualities which made the Count's bands so thrilling.

Tony Augarde

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