1. One O'Clock Jump
2. Too Close For Comfort
3. Amazing Love
4. Smack Dab In The Middle
5. Only Forever
6. Don't Worry About Me
7. Stop Pretty Baby Stop
8. One O'Clock Jump
10. I Don't Like You No More
11. From Coast To Coast
12. April In Paris
13. Every Day I Have The Blues
14. Too Close For Comfort (alt. take)
15. Basie's Back In Town
16. Party Blues
17. One O'Clock Jump (alt. take)
Wendell Culley, Reunald Jones, Thad Jones, Joe Newman - Trumpets
Henry Coker, Bill Hughes, Benny Powell - Trombones
Marshall Royal - Alto sax, clarinet
Bill Graham - Alto sax
Frank Foster - Tenor sax
Frank Wess - Tenor sax, flute
Charlie Fowlkes - Baritone sax
Count Basie - Piano
Freddie Green - Guitar
Eddie Jones - Bass
Sonny Payne - Drums
Ella Fitzgerald - Vocals (tracks 2, 12, 13, 16)
Joe Williams - Vocals (tracks 2-7, 10, 13, 14, 16)
The front cover of this CD may be misleading, as Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams don't appear on every track, which could be disappointing, especially for those who enjoyed the album Ella & Basie. In fact Ella is only heard on four tracks, three of them duetting with Joe Williams.
Nonetheless this is a splendid album, mainly recorded in 1956, the year before The Atromic Mr Basie, an LP which marked a highpoint in the band's output. The ensemble here includes such virtuosi as Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Marshall Royal and Frank Foster, and is driven by the superb rhythm section of Basie, Greene, Jones and Payne. The original LP contained only tracks 1 to 7 and 8 to 11 but this CD has several recordings added from other sources. The band is heard at its best in the eight-and-a-half minute From Coast To Coast, an Ernie Wilkins composition/arrangement which moves subtly from swing to ballad and back again.
There are three versions of One O'Clock Jump but they are all listenable, with Freddie Greene's rhythmic guitar an essential ingredient in all three performances. Too Close For Comfort is the first of the duets by Joe and Ella, and they go well together. Joe Williams's warm, smoky voice makes a good contrast to Ella's clear vocals. Joe was especially suited to singing the blues, as he does here on songs like Smack Dab in the Middle and Every Day I Have The Blues (on which Ella joins Joe). Of course, the Basie band specialised in the blues.
As for Ella Fitzgerald, she is her usual impeccable self, and it is a pity that she only appears on four tracks. As Ernie Wilkins said: "Part of her wonder is her perfect control of her voice - pitch, phrasing, everything". She adds a vocal to the memorable Basie version of April In Paris and sings along with its "one more time" section. Party Blues has Ella and Joe improvising a blues with lots of scatting and accompaniment by a select octet from the band.
This generous compilation captures Basie's "New Testament Big Band" when it was playing at its swinging best.