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Count Basie: The Golden Years

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the Pablo recordings in this attractive four-CD set were made between 1972-1983, the final phase of Basie’s long career. They were “golden years,” too, in the sense that during them he was fortunate to enjoy Norman Granz’s powerful support.

The first disc is devoted to live performances by both the band and all-star concert groups. The first two numbers-heavy and busy-disappoint, and none of the soloists is of a stature to avoid being dwarfed. Things look up with Jimmy Forrest’s entry on “Blues in Hoss’s Flat,” and there’s good tenor, too, by Eric Dixon on “Splanky.” Al Grey shines on “Good Time Blues” and “I Needs to Bee’d With.” Two long jam sessions at Monterey in 1975 and 1977 are notable for solos by Basie, Johnny Griffin, Zoot Sims, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter and Vic Dickenson, the superb support on the second session by Ray Brown and drummer Jimmie Smith being particularly commendable.

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