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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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COUNT BASIE

April in Paris

Phoenix 131533

 

 

1. April In Paris
2. Corner Pocket
3. Didn't You
4. Sweetie Cakes
5. Magic
6. Shiny Stockings
7. What Am I Here For?
8. Midgets
9. Mambo Inn
10. Dinner With Friends
11. Teach Me Tonight
12. Please Send Me Someone To Love
13. My Baby Upsets Me
14. Ev'ry Day I Fall In Love
15. Roll' Em Pete
16. Smack Dab In The Middle
17. Amazing Love
18. Only Forever
?19. Stop Pretty Baby, Stop
20. Big Red

Count Basie - Piano
Marshall Royal - Clarinet, alto sax
Bill Graham - Alto sax
Frank Wess - Alto sax, tenor sax, flute, clarinet
Frank Foster - Tenor sax, clarinet
Charlie Fowlkes - Baritone sax, bass clarinet
Joe Newman, Thad Jones, Wendell Cully, Reunald Jones - Trumpets
Henry Coker, Benny Powell, Bill Hughes - Trombones
Freddie Green - Guitar
Eddie Jones - Bass
Sonny Payne - Drums
Jos‚ Mangual, Ubaldo Nieto - Percussion (track 9)
Joe Williams - Vocals (tracks 11-20)

 

This 1956 LP has been reissued several times - notably with three other LPs on a double album at bargain price. The album is a classic, primarily for the title-track with its famous surprise ending, but also for such tunes as Corner Pocket, Shiny Stockings, and Midgets (this last reducing the band to a sextet featuring trumpeter Joe Newman and flautist Frank Wess).

The title-track was arranged by organist Wild Bill Davis, who had previously played it with the band. Basie noted of Davis that "the sound he got on that one instrument was as wide as a whole room". Wild Bill couldn't be at this recording session, so the orchestra replicated his big sound very impressively. The arrangement starts with the saxes stating the melody warmly, followed by a trumpet solo which has become mandatory for any orchestra playing this arrangement, then more rich playing from the saxes and the whole band, leading into the climax which builds bigger and bigger, thrust along by the drums of Sonny Payne.

Corner Pocket is arranged similarly, with a memorable trumpet solo and Sonny Payne helping to build to the climax. The saxes also state the theme in Didn't You? Shiny Stockings is another winner: a restrained but catchy melody with a skittering trumpet solo. Mambo Inn unexpectedly turns the Basie band into a mambo outfit, and Dinner With Friends has yet another glittering trumpet solo and a careering tenor solo, culminating in a solo by Sonny Payne (one of the best drummers Basie ever had).

The bonus on this particular reissue is the inclusion of ten songs (tracks 11 to 20) recorded at the same session, with Joe Williams singing a mixture of ballads and blues. His voice is like velvet, and his phrasing - holding back with the lyrics - augments his appeal.

Count Basie was finding it hard to keep a big band going in the early fifties, when many bands had gone out of business. For a while he went out with a small group but April in Paris revived his career and thankfully gave this "New Testament" band the impetus it needed.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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