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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
Thus even in the midst of change, the Basie band maintained its bluesy danceable rhythms that incorporated both the swing tradition and bop influences of the previous decade. “Without all of those fantastic gigs at Birdland and all those records Norman started bringing out were also very, very important,” Basie wrote in his autobiography. Among them were the biggest hits of his career, “Ev’ry Day (I Have the Blues),” Joe Williams’s signature number from 1955 and the instrumental “April in Paris,” recorded the following year.

The international jazz community celebrated the beloved Basie’s 20th anniversary as bandleader and living legend. “Basie Voted Greatest Jazz Man in the World!” headlined Britain’s Melody Maker in 1957 at the time when Basie did a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II, an honor in which he preceded even Duke Ellington.





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The arrival of singer Joe Williams in 1954 helped to repair a void in the Basie band that had not been completely filled since the departure of Jimmy Rushing a generation before. Williams’s trademark song “Ev’ry Day (I Have the Blues)” in the hand’s of his new employer produced one of the greatest hits of his career.

A flyer for joint appearances by Sarah Vaughan and the Count Basie Orchestra at the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf Astoria in 1953. Vaughan and the Basie band recorded together for Roulette Records in 1961 and again twenty years later for Pablo Records. Frank Driggs Collection.

The Count Basie Orchestra rehearsal during a 1953 rehearsal featuring, l-r, Freddie Green, guitar; Basie; Joe Newman and Reunauld Jones, trumpets; and Henry Coker, trombone. Frank Driggs Collection.
This 1956 Down Beat magazine tribute to Count Basie reviewed the band’s development over twenty years as a major force in jazz. The account was written by John Hammond, the record producer and talent scout who brought Basie and the band to prominence in the mid-1930s.
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, the tenor saxophonist soloing at left, was one of the important new voices lending his sound to the Basie band in the 1950s and 1960s. The photograph was made in July 1952 at Birdland’s, the New Testament band’s homeroom in New York during this period. Bill Marks Photo, Frank Driggs Collection.
The Count, the King and the First Lady—Basie, Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald—make for a perfect Triple Crown for this 1957 appearance at the Paramount Theater in New York. Joint appearances by Ella and Basie continued throughout the remainder of their careers when they were associated with Pablo Records in the 1970s and 1980s.

Count Basie as seen during a 1960 recording session for Roulette Records in New York. Photographer Herb Snitzer said recently about the experience: "The thing I enjoyed the most is that Basie and his band were all in suits, ties, etc. Very formal times long ago." Photographs by Herb Snitzer





Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing at Newport. Frank Driggs Collection.

Joe Williams and the Basie band belt it out in a scene from the 1957 Warner Bros. Film Jamboree. The film presented a mixed bag musically, depict a diverse group of artists from Basie to Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Slim Whitman and Frankie Avalon. Frank Driggs Collection