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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

 
 

 
 
As in the late 1940s when Count Basie disbanded, he encountered a rough patch two decades later, when the British rock invasion of the mid-‘60s was in full swing. Joe Williams, whose stay with the band had helped bring it back to prominence, left with Basie’s blessings in January 1961, days before the band appeared at the inaugural festivities for John F. Kennedy. Albums such as Basie Meets Bond and Basie's Beatles Bag in 1966 along with tributes to Broadway and Hollywood music attest to the come-what-may pragmatism Basie adopted to keep the band working.

But retrenchment is not exactly the entire story line of the 1960s. The band made no less than nine European tours and performed in South America, Japan and Canada, in addition to ceaseless touring in the United States. The Basie and Ellington bands joined forces in the Columbia recording studio in July 1961 to record First Time! The Count Meets the Duke. The band also distinguished itself with further

 

 

recordings for Roulette in 1962 and backing some of the greatest singers in jazz and popular music: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett, on records and live.

The period from 1973 until Basie’s death in 1984 represented another high-water mark , ending his legendary six decades in jazz on a glorious note that included four Grammy Awards. His renewed relationship with Norman Granz, who now contributed his services as manager, opened the gates to scores of fresh recordings on the Pablo label, often alongside other stars in Granz’s stable: Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Benny Carter, Clark Terry and Roy Eldridge among them, as well as some tremendous big band and small group performances captured at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

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The facial expressions of Count Basie and bassist Eddie Jones reflect the band at full tilt during a Boston appearance in 1960. Meanwhile, wives and girlfriends of the musicians, who might have heard “the one more time” once too many times, look exhausted as they wait for the concert to conclude. The women on the other side of the stage are swept away, the one on the right to the point of leaping onstage when Joe Williams was singing. Photographs by Paul Hoeffler.

The Count met the Duke in July 1961 at Columbia Records Studios in New York during the only joint recording session between the two legendary bands. The bundling such instrumental firepower could have led to competition or at the very least a very muddled sound. Instead, For the First Time! is a celebration of big bands and two of their greatest exponents. Frank Driggs Collection.
The concert program cover for a spring 1963 tour of Europe by the Count Basie Orchestra and Sarah Vaughan and her trio. The 1960s were enriched by Basie’s combinations with singers, including Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
 
Basie at the Sands—not the Sands in Las Vegas, but those of Honolulu—in this March 1963 photograph. Posing on the steps on a Pan American jet were, l-r, Jimmy Witherspoon, Charlie Fowlkes, Henry Coker, Frank Wess, Fip Ricard, Al Aarons, Eric Dixon and Grover Mitchell. Ground-level Basie-ites, l-r, included Buddy Catlett, Frank Foster, Freddie Green, Benny Powell, Don Rader, Sonny Cohn, Marshall Royal and Basie.
 
The Basie band played for the younger and older sets in two movies dating from the mid-1960s. Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda take to the parquet floor in the 1965 film Sex and the Single Girl, Made in Paris from 1966 has Ann-Margaret and Chad Everett on the move as Basie observes another generation of dancers under the spell of his orchestra. Frank Driggs Collection.
 
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