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Count Basie Orchestra

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Jazz and Cabaret Performance Reviews

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Count Basie Orchestra
(Website)
(See Other Basie Centennial Reviews)
At Birdland
315 West 44th Street, NYC
212.581.3080
www.birdlandjazz.com
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager
See Other Birdland Reviews 1

Basie Bandleader: Bill Hughes
Vocalist/Bandleader: Chris Murrell

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 19, 2004

This being the Centennial of the birth of Count Basie, the Count Basie Orchestra, 70 years old, itself, is touring with splendor and pride. Bill Hughes, who has been with this band for 50 years as a bass trombonist and bandleader, was tonight's host. Shiny Stockings, a great swing dance piece, presented muted trumpets and trombones. There was a great 40's Big Band feel to this second set sound. The Basie Orchestra made the Club feel hot on a still windy March night. The full blast of brass in this 16-piece band preceded a featured Shawn Edmonds on trumpet and Butch Miles on Drums.

Way Out Basie was more contemporary and fused with jazz. John Kelson on alto sax was the highlight. Basically Yours by Thad Jones brought Tony Suggs on piano, and he played a sexy keyboard, enhanced with punctuated percussion. Cute featured brush drums, and the "cute" surprise was the holding of little hats on the trombones, for volume and tone effects, while mutes alternated on the trumpets. The Wind Machine was introduced in a powerful way by James Leary on bass. Will Matthews on guitar created a nice melody with tiny intonations of Django Reinhardt, with piano, bass, and brushes merging with this upbeat melody, before Matthews returned to his solo, surrounded by a bluesy beat.

Good Times Blues featured bassist Leary with soft, repetitive drum rhythms and a real surprise: The band vocalized in unison, at times, for the most adorable tribute to the original swing band that put Basie on the map, followed by muted trombones. Discomotion, a 50's piece by Frank Foster, featured a very full and finished band. There was a trumpet duet that showcased the talent of this everlasting orchestra. A Billy Eckstein piece, Lonesome Lover Blues, brought out Chris Murrell, vocalist, who also led the band, as he sang.

Murrell was lively and dynamic, and his charisma seemed to draw out more energy from this seasoned orchestra, after they had been onstage for about one hour. Come Back brought the band to increased electricity and effervescence. Murrell was entertaining with a pleasant voice. In Please Send Me Someone to Love, Murrell belted out the blues with bravura, extending the final note. In There Will Never Be Another You, Murrell exuded passion and personality. Bill Hughes returned for the finale, Jumpin' at the Woodside, which was original Basie at its best.

Kudos to the Count Basie Orchestra, Bill Hughes, Bandleader, and Gianni Valenti of Birdland for creating this Centennial Basie tribute for the New York and visiting Big Band fans. Gianni Valenti of Birdland sent us an orchestra to love.


Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Frank Wess, Basie Musician, at Leisure
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Bennie Powell, Basie Musician and Guest, at Leisure
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Bill Hughes, Bandleader
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Count Basie Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net