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Basie Set Due in September

Jazz fans on a budget may have to make a choice come September: Basie or Davis? Or, more correctly: swing or fusion? As we reported last month, Columbia/Legacy will drop a five-CD set chronicling the sessions that produced Miles Davis most-rocking effort, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, but the label revealed this week that September will also see the release a four-disc set of Columbia Records material by Count Basie. The music on these box sets couldn’t be more different. Davis was in full electric mode during the recording of Jack Johnson; while the tracks that make up America’s #1 Band are some of the earliest Basie band recordings, cut from 1936-1951-did they even have electricity back then?

The Basie set begins with four small-group cuts attributed to Jones-Smith, Inc., the band featuring trumpeter Carl “Tatti” Smith, saxophonist Lester Young, bassist Walter Page, drummer Jo Jones and pianist Basie-the band that laid the foundation for Basie groups to come. The first three CDs in the set take us through the evolving and revolving lineups Basie put together over time, introducing us to players like trumpeters Buck Clayton and Clark Terry, guitarist Freddie Green and vocalist Jimmy Rushing. Disc four might be the one that sells the set, however, as it contains radio broadcasts of live performances by Count Basie and His Ochestra that have never been released officially, save for two tracks made at a 1937 Savoy Ballroom date (“They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Swing, Brother, Swing”) and one caught at the Meadowbrook Lounge in 1939 (“I Can’t Get Started”).

Producer Orrin Keepnews oversaw production on the box set and contributes liner notes that explain his intentions and concerns in doing so. Meanwhile, saxophonist-educator-critic Loren Schoenberg’s liner notes comment extensively on the specific recordings, sometimes getting into musical nitty gritty.

Here’s a heavily annotated track list:

DISC I

THE SMALL GROUP RECORDINGS

JONES-SMITH, INC.: Carl “Tatti” Smith, trumpet; Lester Young, tenor saxophone; Count Basie, piano; Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums. Vocals on “Evening” and “Boogie Woogie” by Jimmy Rushing. Recorded in Chicago; November 9, 1936.

1. SHOE SHINE BOY

(Master number C-1657-1 / originally issued on Vocalion 3441)

(Sammy Cahn-Saul Chaplin)

2. EVENIN’

(C-1658-1 / originally Voc 3441)

(Mitchell Parrish-Harry White)

3. BOOGIE WOOGIE (I May Be Wrong)

(C-1659-1 / Voc 3459)

(Count Basie-Jimmy Rushing)

4. OH, LADY BE GOOD

(C-1659 / Voc 3459)

(Ira & George Gershwin)

BASIE’S BAD BOYS: Buck Clayton, Shad Collins, trumpets; Dickie Wells, trombone (on “Going to Chicago” only); Lester Young, tenor saxophone; Count Basie, piano (on #5 and 8) or organ (on #6, 7); Freddie Green, guitar; Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums. Vocal on “Going to Chicago” by Jimmy Rushing. Chicago; February 13, 1939. First issued in 1952, all on 10-inch LP CBS 66101.

5. I AIN’T GOT NOBODY

(24510-1)

(Roger Graham-Spencer Williams)

6. GOIN’ TO CHICAGO

(24511-1)

(Count Basie-Jimmy Rushing)

7. LIVE AND LOVE TONIGHT

(24512-1)

(Sam Coslow-Arthur Johnston)

8. LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME

(24513-1)

(Walter Donaldson-Gus Kahn)

COUNT BASIE KANSAS CITY SEVEN: Buck Clayton, trumpet; Dicky Wells, trombone; Lester Young, tenor saxophone; same rhythm section as on preceding session. New York City; September 5, 1939.

9. DICKIE’S DREAM

(W25296-4 / Voc 5118)

(Count Basie-Lester Young)

10. LESTER LEAPS IN

(W25297-2 / Voc 5118)

(Lester Young)

COUNT BASIE & HIS ALL-AMERICAN RHYTHM SECTION: Buck Clayton, trumpet, and Don Byas, tenor saxophone, appear on #12, 13, 14 and 18 only, with same rhythm section as on preceding session. New York City; July 24, 1942. [Unreleased for 2 ½ years during the American Federation of Musicians recording ban. All 8 selections first issued as a four-record 78 rpm album: Blues by Basie (Columbia C-101).]

11. HOW LONG BLUES

(HCO873-1)

(Leroy Carr-J. Mayo Williams)

12. ROYAL GARDEN BLUES

(HCO874-1)

(Clarence Williams-Spencer Williams)

13. BUGLE BLUES

(HCO875-1)

(Count Basie)

14. SUGAR BLUES

(HCO876-1)

(Lucy Fletcher-Clarence Williams)

15. FAREWELL BLUES

(HCO877-1)

(Paul Mares-Leon Rappolo-Elmer Schoebel)

16. CAFE SOCIETY BLUES

(HCO878-1)

(Count Basie)

17. WAY BACK BLUES

(HCO879-1)

(Count Basie)

18. ST. LOUIS BLUES

(HCO880-1)

(W. C. Handy)

COUNT BASIE OCTET: Clark Terry, trumpet; Buddy DeFranco, clarinet; Charlie Rouse, tenor saxophone; Serge Chaloff, baritone saxophone; Count Basie, piano; Freddie Green, guitar; Jimmy Lewis, bass; Buddy Rich, drums. Arranged by Neal Hefti. New York City; May 16, 1950.

19. NEAL’S DEAL

(CO43261-1 / Columbia 39075)

(Neal Hefti-Count Basie)

20. BLUEBEARD BLUES

(CO43262-1 / Col 38888)

(Neal Hefti-Count Basie)

21. THE GOLDEN BULLET

(CO43263-1 / Col 38888)

(Count Basie-Milton Ebbins)

22. YOU’RE MY BABY, YOU

(CO43264-1 Col LP CBS 66102)

(Astor-Williams)

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