Monday, January 27, 2014
The Count Basie Trio For the First Time Pablo 1974
The Pablo era Basie is interesting, it's not astounding, but it was cool that Pablo was out there still letting guys like Basie throw down in the 1970's. The label itself was founded by Norman Granz who started it after selling his Verve label to MGM. Apparently, Pablo Picasso had influence with the label and was also in on the project near his death, that or Granz wanted to do something to incorporate him and thus the name and symbol of the label, who knew? Granz apparently ran the label as a hobby and took all the old jazz artists that no one cared about it anymore and let them go in the studio setting. Very loose recordings, lots of improvisation, with some of jazz's greatest artists. In addition to Basie, this LP has double bassist, Ray Brown, and drummer Louie Bellson. The Pablo roster also included work by KC native, Joe Turner, Count Basie's Kansas City 7, and non-locals, Ella Fitzgeralrd, Joe Pass, and Oscar Peterson just to name a few. The pressing and sound quality on the Pablo are superb. In fact, most there releases have a basic (but, great sounding version) with a black cover and the "super" versions with white cover. This obviously represents the "super" version of this particular LP. Also, since no one really cared about these releases much in the 70's (my understanding they were high priced audiophile type albums), no one really cares about them now and you can find them relatively cheap.
There's an absurdly long write up on the back sleeve, I haven't really taken the time to read it. I'm sure it gives all the in and outs of the LP. It probably doesn't tell you how the album is great background, study, or housecleaning music. Further, it probably declares it triumphant and award winning, but it's pretty mellow and easy to lose focus while listening. There are some moments Basie rips through some lines just to show off, but there isn't much more than old friends firing it up in the studio setting. Basie perks ears on his song, "Blues in the Church", as he riffs on an organ. The rendition of Gershwin's "Lady Be Good" is also worth paying attention to. The trio's rendition of "As Long As I Live" is a gem and will quickly get lost if you're not paying attention, the track really showcases Basie as a pianist.
That would be the major take away from the album. Throughout his career, Basie primarily did his work as a bandleader. Choosing to focus on the other parts of his band rather than add embellishments with his own skills. It's a rare opportunity to hear Basie as a player in a small setting.
As Long As I Live