Count Basie

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Count Basie

Count Basie (1904-1984) recorded Broadway Basie’s Way for Enoch Light’s Command label on August 18 and September 7 and 8, 1966. It contained 12 classic Broadway tunes:

Hello Young Lovers from The King and I. A Lot of Livin’ to Do from Bye Bye Birdie. Just in Time from Bells Are Ring­ing. Mame. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. It’s All Right With Me from Can Can. On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. Here’s that Rainy Day from Carnival in Flanders.
From this Moment On from Out of this World. Baubles, Bangles and Beads, from Kismet. People from Funny Girl. Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy.

Basie’s arranger was the Cuban-born Chico O’Farrill (1921- 2001) and he had on hand the phenomenal trumpeter Roy Eldridge (1911-1989) who otherwise was a free-lancer after years in Gene Krupa’s band, and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green (1911-1987) who had been with Basie for over 30 years.

Except for a few desultory moments – almost as if everyone is on auto-pilot – the album is a good one. Part of its problem may have been the commercialized pressure to do tunes that the band wasn’t that excited about; what saved it from total boredom was the sheer professionalism of Basie and his players and their commitment to a minimum standard of quality and reliability in all of their sessions. As with Basie’s friend Duke Ellington (1899-1974), neither gentleman ever made a bad record and I have many of each of them.

Basie and his wife, Catherine, had one daughter, Diane, who was born in 1944 with cerebral palsy. The doctors told them she would never walk. His wife felt otherwise and taught the little girl to walk and swim.

Continuing with R. P. Tristram Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals:

“But back up on the farms the men were grinding their picks. Women were laying out armfuls of gray socks with white heels and toes, piling up the flannel shirts, packing up bacon and ham and sausage meat and loaves. Boys were oiling harness and polishing the glass sidelights of headstalls. Chains were clinking, and sleds were being piled with blankets and bedding and victuals and extra whiffle-trees, cant dogs, picks, and feed for the horses.”

More next week.

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