Monday, December 9, 2013
Count Basie Basie Plays Hefti Roulette 1958
Count Basie's Kansas City origins are a good story. In 1927 he was performing as a pianist for a vaudeville style act. The group broke up while touring in Kansas City and Basie was stranded. His first job in KC was playing accompaniment to silent movies in a film house, however, his talent soon landed him jobs with local R&B and jazz artists, he eventually settled as a member of Bennie Moten's Swing band. He played with Moten until his death in 1935, for a brief time, Basie played solo until forming and leading the Barons of Rhythm with many members of Moten's now defunct band.
His brand of swing is notable for it's commercial appeal. As a bandleader from the 30's to 40's he was immensely popular. His band even appearing in numerous Hollywood movies during their peak. He remained popular as a jazz musician even after the decline of big bands in the late 40's as a performer and leader of smaller troupe's.
Released in 1958, Basie Plays Hefti, marks a resurgence as the leader of a big band. Arranger Neil Hefti had brought orchestration and large bands back into vogue with Basie. Keep in mind, it's a very tame sound Hefti created and rooted in pop just as much as it is jazz, it doesn't "swing" much at all, but with Basie, it still has a soul.