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“Simplicity and Celebration: An Appreciation of Count Basie” by Albert Murray
A Tale of Three Cities: Red Bank, Kansas City, New York
First Testament Band Roars Out of Kansas City
1938 Famous Door Photo Essay, Frank Driggs Collection
Basie in the 40's: Time of Transition
1944 Columbia Records Photo Essay, Frank Driggs Collection
Basie in the 50's: Sixteen Men Swinging-Again
Milt Hinton Photo Essay, Sound of Jazz, CBS Television, December 8,1957
Chuck Stewart Photo Essay: The Basie Band and Joe Williams, Roulette recording sessions, 1957
Chance meeting: The Count and Coltrane
Tad Hershorn Photo Essay: Ella Fitzgerald and Basie in San Antonio, 1979
Count Basie Virtual Jukebox
They Speak of Basie: Joe Williams, Freddie Green, Jay McShann, Oscar Peterson, Albert Murray, Helen Humes, Louie Bellson . . .
Suggested Recordings and Readings
Finale: Video of Count Basie at Montreux, 1977


IJS and Dana Digital Media Lab 2004


The secret of Count Basie’s success here may not have been the heat coming from the band, however indispensable, but on the cool coming from the air-conditioning. So committed were Basie fans John Hammond and Willard Alexander, the latter just starting his career with Music Corporation of America, on getting the Basie band into the popular club at 66 West 52nd Street that they conspired to pay for air-conditioning in its cramped quarters, which had previously booked only small groups. Hammond and Alexander also persuaded CBS to broadcast live during the band’s first engagement from July to October 1938 when these photographs were made and again in the summer of 1939 . Such network broadcasts, also helped lift the Count Basie Orchestra into the upper echelons of big band jazz, alongside Ellington, Lunceford, Goodman, Shaw, the Dorseys and Cab Calloway.

“They swung harder and looser at the same time, than any of the Eastern bands, and had at least three superlative soloists in Lester Young, Buck Clayton and Herschel Evans,” wrote jazz historian Frank Driggs. “It was the first time in jazz that two outstanding tenor men were present and featured in one band.” The band had been infused with such important new talents as trombonists Dicky Wells and Benny Morton, trumpeter Harry Edison, lead alto saxophonist Earle Warren and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green.

As Driggs put it, “After that summer at the Famous Door, Basie never looked back.”


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