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"The Comeback," indeed...
Peter A. Sokolowski | Northampton, MA USA | 06/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe you're like me. Maybe you pretty much lose touch with the Basie band by the very early 60s, when the last remnants of the monstrous "new testament" band had drifted. Joe Newman left, Snooky Young left, Frank Foster left, Thad Jones left and it was all over. The magic was gone.The band seemed to create more heat than light behind Sinatra in the mid-60s "At The Sands" -- still good; still very, very, good. But not the thrills-and-chills magic of the fifties band.And by the late sixties and seventies, the Nestico revolution of the book seemed somehow more clever than hip. Skilled but not inspired. The earthy quality that defined Kansas City jazz was gone. Sure, it had become the proverbial well-oiled version through the writing of Neal Hefti and Foster and Ernie Wilkins, but it was still fundamentally earthy. Grounded. Nestico is much more abstract.So I had let this date pass me by. The live things at Montreux in the mid-seventies were noisy and disturbing--not the Basie band we knew. But a Pablo studio date without Nestico charts??? And featuring Milt Jackson, a player who is always plenty, plenty, soulful and free of cliché? A chance to hear the band roar. Turns out the doldrums were not permanent. Change the charts, bring back the fundamentals. Dust off "The Comeback," "Corner Pocket," and the gorgeous "Blue and Sentimental." And Wilkins' masterpiece of Rhythm Changes, "Basie." And several quintet sides too, with a relaxed and rejuvenated Basie comping and stomping.Of course, the alchemy here isn't a fluke. Butch Miles is one of the greatest big-band drummers in history; no one matches his combination of energy and looseness. Sonny Cohn is delightful with one of the great trumpet sounds in jazz when melodically leading the brass. And Lyn Biviano gives some strong flash while remaining a team player, adding to the energy but not distracting."The Comeback" is a masterpiece of Basie swing, a combination of pulsing fire and, paradoxically, stately reserve. With soulfulness. And much, much attitude.I ignored this one for far too long."
Two of the Best!
Robert J. Ament | Ballwin, MO United States | 05/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like big band, Count Basie, or Milt Jackson, then you will dig this cd. These are some of the Basie "standards" from the previous 30+ years to this recording date in 1978...not in their original arrangements... but close enough. Basie's band of the 70's got better and better. These guys were so used to playing together that good music just seemed to occur effortlessly. Solo emphasis is naturally on the Count and Bags. Highlights for me are the fine section work of the band, the Count's always tasteful piano work where never a note or a pause is wasted, and the cool fluid vibes of Milt Jackson. The whole recording is supported by a great rhythm section comprised of Freddie Green ( the best rhythm guitarist ever!), bassist John Clayton, with drummer Butch Miles propelling the band along.This is music with a generally medium beat which will put you in a good mood whether you are listening while having a drink or if you like to have a jazz background (as I do) while doing other things."