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Count Plays Duke
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
In the midst of the swing revival, it's remarkable that the Count Basie band still survives, an authentic and living monument to a giant of the swing era and the musical institution that he led from the '30s until his deat... more »
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In the midst of the swing revival, it's remarkable that the Count Basie band still survives, an authentic and living monument to a giant of the swing era and the musical institution that he led from the '30s until his death in 1984. Under the leadership of trombonist Grover Mitchell, who spent many years working with Bill Basie (and a short spell with Ellington), the band continues to mine its traditional repertoire and highly developed style, blending smooth ensembles, punching rhythms, and potent soloists. For this project, Allyn Ferguson, another veteran of Basie's later years, has taken on the slightly postmodernist project of arranging some of Ellington's most popular music in the classic style of the Count Basie band. It's a worthy project, for Ellington and Basie defined the two great traditions in big-band jazz, Ellington a master of melody and orchestral color, Basie the leader of a precision machine for swing. Ferguson emphasizes the Duke's strongest tunes, particularly well suited to the band's sectional strengths, but he also manages to touch on Ellington both early and late, from the plaintive, New Orleans-derived "Mood Indigo" to "Paris Blues," the theme for a 1961 film whose Ellington soundtrack was reissued in 1998. Emphasizing art over nostalgia, the results are thoroughly convincing, rendering classic music in a subtly surprising way and providing a fresh, Grammy-winning perspective on both the Ellington material and the Basie manner. --Stuart Broomer
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The Count Basie Orchestra rockin, 'n rhythm with the Duke.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Florissant, MO | 02/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard "A-Train" unannounced on the radio; recognized Kenny Hing, but I didn't recognize the arrangement.But I do now. Allyn Ferguson's arrangement of this album is as remarkable, as it is unique. He interpreted each song his way , not like Duke nor Basie. Such a concept was a new challenge for each musician to navigate. Kenny Hing, my main man, plays like a man possessed: his technique, interpretation and presentation are tour-de-force. Bob Ojeda played himself, no paraphrasing some other trumpet solo. a delighful departure. And Frank Wess is the man. His infectious and ferocious improvisation are works of art. You are seduced by the subtulties of his solo, then suddenly, he is sprewing ideas with pulsating dynamics on every beat. Another stroke of genuis was Ferguson's inclusion of "Star-Crossed Lovers" and "Paris Blues;" both are less played, but so hantingly and beautifully presented in this setting. The ingratiating nature of the music; the standard of excellence of the orchestra; the leadership of Grover Mitchell and the verve Butch Miles are tantamount to having a jazz classic standard-of-excellence album. All of these ingredients mesh, making each note Count [like] Basie!"