[55] Count Basie and His Orchestra – Complete Decca Recordings

25 Apr

Where a decade earlier Louis Armstrong led from the front of his band, with booming vocals and scorching trumpet playing, Count Basie’s piano is the engine that drives his orchestra and the result is collaborative effervescence.

Complete Decca Recordings

Complete Decca Recordings











Every musician here gets a brief chance to shine in this three hour collection of 3 minute explorations.  No one solos too long, no singer hogs the microphone, and everybody gets their moment, keeping the whole thing chugging along with undeniable energy.

There are familiar standards (“Pennies From Heaven”, “My Heart Belongs To Daddy”) and childhood tunes (“London Bridge Is Falling Down”, “Mulberry Bush”) jazzed up and played with, alongside more traditional jazz compositions.  The instantly recognizable melodies catch the ear and focus attention back on the deceptively simple recipe – a short tune played simply, sparsely by a collection of restrained musicians.

In this case the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts.

The rhythm is unrelenting, always surging forward, and if there is never an instrument doing more than sketching a beat or a melody, still the orchestra as a whole coalesces into a complete and complex sound.

It’s just so much fun to listen to.

What makes that fun cerebral as well as emotional is a number of back to back takes on a number of cuts, getting to hear the same song twice, done in totally different styles, exploring the same musical space in very different ways.

Reminds me (in a good way) of listening to a 12 inch remix version of 7 inch single back in high school.

It may be that there is nothing groundbreaking here, but I can hear the beginnings of the codification of Jazz that the Free Jazz crowd I’ve been (for the most part) enjoying so much used as a launch point for their experimentation.

But even without the history, even without the musical theory on display, these tunes brighten up my home for days, putting a skip into everybody’s step, a hum on all our lips.

Next Week:  Waldemar Bastos – Pretaluz

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 55. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 55. 7%)
Recommend? Yes. (43 of 55. 78%)

One Response to “[55] Count Basie and His Orchestra – Complete Decca Recordings”


  1. [67] The Beatles – The Beatles | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - July 18, 2014

    […] (call it take 5, between 1 and 9?), I still enjoy the variations at least as much as I did when Count Basie shared his alternate takes back to […]

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