#1: Count Basie- "Basie's Basement" (1959):
This is a compilation of sides Basie and his band originally recorded in the late '40s on 78. Whether playing swing, slow blues, or the occasional novelty like "The Jungle King", Basie was one of the greats. Definitely a record I'd recommend to any fan of the big band era. Wonderful stuff.
#2: Count Basie: "Basie's Beatle Bag" (1966):
Yes- it's Count Basie playing the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. An unusual item, to be sure.
But I actually can't comment on this record. And I'll tell you why.
I was never a big Beatles fan. When I was a kid, I immediately got the sense that this was the most popular band in the entire world, and something in my brain went "Well, if that's what everybody ELSE likes so much, I'm gonna go in a different direction and find my own thing." Of course I've HEARD the Beatles- you'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard them at some time in your life on this planet. But there's a lot of stuff by them that I've never heard. I'm a long way from an expert on the subject. MY favorites from the era are people like the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa, both of whom the average person knows by name but probably couldn't tell you anything about their music. I am by my own admission an eccentric person, and my refusal to submit to the world's love for the Beatles has been my way of resisting the status quo. Sure, I have all their albums on my backup hard drive, and I do intend to listen to them sometime, and maybe I'll discover that I was wrong. In fact, I'm sure I am. But because I haven't heard the original versions of most of the songs Basie covers here, I don't want to spoil them by hearing his versions first. Therefore, I just digitized this album and let it play with the sound down, and didn't listen to it. Someday, a few years from now, when I've caught up to the rest of the human race and can recite Beatles trivia at the drop of a hat, I'll give Basie's interpretations a listen. But not now.
#3: Count Basie & Duke Ellington: "First Time! The Count Meets The Duke" (1962):
Judging from the liner notes, Basie and Ellington had been good friends and mutual admirers for many years before this album was made, but apparently this was the first, perhaps the only, time that these two giants ever worked together. I'm more familiar with their earlier work from the '30s and '40s, so I can't comment on the type of work they were both doing at this time, but the pieces on this album sound more like Stan Kenton-style "modern jazz" (as it was called- at least it was modern at the time) than the big-band sounds I'm used to. Nonetheless, Count and Duke create some fine stuff accompanied by a great group of sidemen. Again, I wish I could say more, but I'm using this blog more to jot down my reactions than give professional-quality reviews. If I could do that, I'd be working for a newspaper, not a blog. Anyway, it's a good record by two of my all-time favorites. Worth a listen.
That's all I'm doing today. See you again tomorrow.