Count Basie: April in Paris

“April in Paris” was one of the biggest hits by Basie’s New Testament band-so big that he got tired of answering requests for it, just as Thad Jones got tired of repeating the “Pop goes the weasel” quote in his solo. The trick ending and Basie drily ordering “One more time!” and “One more once!” were what made it popular. But there are much better jazz performances on this disc, like those of Freddie Green’s “Corner Pocket,” Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings” and Frank Wess’ “Magic.” Wess never got the credit he deserved as an arranger. His later “Segue in C” was a masterpiece and “Magic” shows how well attuned he was to Basie’s tastes. There are three takes of it here, too, as well as five alternatives of other numbers, including “Midgets” by a sextet consisting of Joe Newman, Wess and the rhythm section. There are some good solos (it’s Henry Coker’s trombone on “Didn’t You”), but by this time the big, slick ensemble was beginning to assume more significance.

Neatly packaged, this set has new notes by Chris Albertson and a couple of unusual photographs.