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December 2004

Count Basie
Let's Jump
Riff City

Let's Jump (Riff City) consists of rare rehearsal tracks by the Count Basie Orchestra that eventually made their way to American GIs during World War II via 16-inch vinyl transcriptions issued by Armed Forces Radio Service. The tunes were recorded in 1943 and '44 and feature some legendary section players: Snooky Young, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Joe Newman, Al Killian, trumpets; Dickie Wells, Eli Robinson among the 'bones; Lester Young, Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet, saxes; and the rhythm section of guitarist Freddie Green, drummer Jo Jones, and, of course, Basie on piano. Guests included Artie Shaw, clarinet, and Thelma Carpenter and Jimmy Rushing, vocals.

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Count Basie

Highlights include "Harvard Blues," with Rushing intoning George Frazier's intellectual lyrics, "Oh, Lady Be Good," featuring Shaw swinging more freely than he did with his own band, "Basie Boogie," where the Count stretches out for a change, and of course "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Thelma Carpenter is wasted on "My Ideal," but she's given the respect she deserves on "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me." On Shaw's reprise, "One O'Clock Jump," he gets downright Goodman-esque. It's also the band's most exciting effort.

Originally published in December 2004
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