Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The Count Basie Orchestra -- which plays a short New Zealand tour in a fortnight -- must be one of the longest running jazz outfits anywhere. In the current line-up they have players appointed by Basie himself, who died 31 years ago.
Most musicians don't get into the band on their way to somewhere else, they get into the Basie band because that's where they want to be. And they stay, often for decades.
The singer with the current orchestra is Carmen Bradford who first joined in '83, a full decade before the present leader Scotty Barnhart joined.
And with the vast body of work which Basie wrote and arranged (and as well as having numerous other arrangers such as Quincy Jones) you can see the reward for the players. New charts enter the repertoire regularly so there is a freshness about being in a band which constantly regenerates itself.
This expansive three CD set -- in the Sony reissue series under the Real banner -- pulls together 48 loosely chronological tunes which of course include Basie classics (Super Chief, but not some of his real classics such as One O'Cock Jump, Autumn Leaves, Li'l Darlin') and most come from the late Thirties/early Forties when he was briefly on Columbia.
So while this is not an overview -- that would require at least a 20 CD box set -- it is certainly a finely focused snapshot of a band that could really swing, and (although the economy of space means no line-ups are printed) at just $10 at JB Hi-Fi stores here, this is a real Bargain Buy-cum-pleasurable homework assignment if you are going to one of the shows soon.