This superb 5-CD collection compiles all existing live recordings made by the Atomic band at the Crescendo Club, in Hollywood, in the summer of 1958, for the first time ever on a single edition. The sound quality is excellent throughout the set. Count Basie’s career was revived in late 1957 thanks to the success of the Neal Hefti-arranged LP Atomic Basie, which became one of his biggest hits. The orchestra was filled with stars, and Joe Williams’ vocals were heard to great effect supported by Hefti’s excellent scores and the superb quality of the band.
Some of Count Basie's finest recordings were cut for the Roulette label during 1957-1962, and all of his studio performances are included on this massive Mosaic ten-CD boxed set. Among the classic former LPs that are reissued here are The Atomic Mr. Basie, Basie Plays Hefti, Chairman of the Board, Everyday I Have the Blues, and Kansas City Suite. With such soloists as trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman, the tenors of Frank Foster and Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Frank Wess on alto and flute, vocals by Joe Williams, and the timeless arrangements of Neal Hefti, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Ernie Wilkins, and Frank Wess among others, this essential (but unfortunately limited-edition) set features the second Count Basie Orchestra at its very best.
This 1977 date joins two jazz giants with contrasting approaches: Gillespie's explosive bop trumpet virtuosity and Basie's laconic piano style. The bare-bones quartet format - with the sterling rhythm team of bassist Ray Brown and drummer Mickey Roker - does nothing to conceal the differences, but it sets up a comfortable middle ground that accommodates swing and bop nuances alike. Differences apart, the co-leaders share infectious warmth, a deep feeling for the blues, and an absolute compulsion to swing. Basie's understatement triggers some of Gillespie's most thoughtful playing of his later career, developing long, intricate solos that combine harmonic exploration and direct, speechlike inflections, often with the distinctive burr of a harmon mute…
Throughout his career, Count Basie was modest about his own abilities as a pianist, and his success at streamlining his style to the bare essentials often made listeners underrate his playing talents. This 1974 session was a rarity, an opportunity for Basie to be featured in a trio setting (with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson), during which he provides enough variety to hold one's interest and enough technique to lead many to reassess his piano skills.
The Count and his orchestra tackle the music of the Fab Four, without any hint of condescension or lassitude. Indeed, the 11 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and one ("Kansas City") by Leiber & Stoller are treated with the same kind of dignity and enthusiasm that the band would give to the likes of Johnny Mercer or Harold Arlen. "Kansas City" is the bluesiest number here, and the one with which the band is obviously the most comfortable - it's the only number here that could have appeared, as is, on any Basie album of the previous decade. But "Michelle" is the best track here, a gently swinging rendition in which Basie's piano is featured in some pleasing flourishes and the band slips into a satisfying groove…
Count Basie was among the most important bandleaders of the swing era. With the exception of a brief period in the early '50s, he led a big band from 1935 until his death almost 50 years later, and the band continued to perform after he died. Basie's orchestra was characterized by a light, swinging rhythm section that he led from the piano, lively ensemble work, and generous soloing. Basie was not a composer like Duke Ellington or an important soloist like Benny Goodman. His instrument was his band, which was considered the epitome of swing and became broadly influential on jazz.
One of Basie's final albums, the very appealing title cut seems to sum up his career, a lightly swinging groove with a strong melody. Two small-group performances with guest Joe Pass on guitar and the tenor of Kenny Hing add variety to aparticularly strong set.