4. The Kansas City Seven: “Six Cats and a Prince” (Kansas City Seven/Kansas City Five, Keynote, 2020 [originally recorded March 22, 1944])
As the band name suggests, this is a small-group session—one on which Basie didn’t use his real name (he’s billed as “Prince Charming”). Still, the date has all the charm and trademarks of his big band, and nobody could mistake the pianist for anyone else. Among those trademarks is Lester Young, who’d returned to the band for a brief spell and gets off two superb solos. Buck Clayton has one, and Dicky Wells another. It’s Basie and his inimitable piano that have real authority on the record, however. He opens with one of his distinctive intros, adds lovely fills to the horn melody, puts on a hell of an improvisation himself, then appropriately comps the other soloists. More to the point, he does his swing thing all over “Six Cats and a Prince,” making the song strut like there’s no tomorrow.
Learn more about Kansas City Seven/Kansas City Five on Amazon.