With this band, then named The Barons of Rhythm, Basie brought the sound of the famous and highly competitive Kansas City " jam session " to club audiences, coupling extended improvised solos with riff -based accompaniments from the band.
When music critic and record producer John Hammond heard the band on a radio broadcast, he sought them out and offered Basie the chance to expand the group to the standard piece big band line-up. He also offered to transfer the group to New York City in order to play at venues such as the Roseland Ballroom.
Basie agreed, hoping that with this new band, he could retain the freedom and spirit of the Kansas City style of his nine-piece group. The band, which now included Buck Clayton on trumpet and the famous blues "shouter" Jimmy Rushing , demonstrated this style in their first recordings with the Decca label in January In March the guitarist Freddie Green arrived, replacing Claude Williams and completing what became one of the most respected rhythm sections in big band history.
Hits such as " One O'Clock Jump " and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" from and , respectively helped to gain the band, now known as the Count Basie Orchestra, national and international fame.
These tunes were known as "head-arrangements"; not scored in individual parts but made up of riffs memorized by the band's members. Although some of the band's players, such as trombonist Eddie Durham , contributed their own written arrangements at this time, the "head-arrangements" captured the imagination of the audience in New York and communicated the spirit of the band's members. The s The band became increasingly dependent on arrangers to provide its music.
These varied from players within the band, such as Eddie Durham and Buck Clayton , to professional arrangers from outside the group, who could bring their own character to the band with each new piece. External arranger Andy Gibson brought the band's harmonic style closer to the forward-looking music of Duke Ellington, with arrangements from such as "I Never Knew" and "Louisiana" introducing increased chromaticism to the band's music.
Tab Smith contributed important arrangements at this time, such as "Harvard Blues", and others including Buster Harding and veteran arranger Jimmy Mundy also expanded the group's repertoire. But the many new arrangements led to a gradual change in the band's sound, distancing the group musically from its Kansas City roots.
Rather than the music being built around the soloists with memorised head arrangements and riffs, the group's sound at this time became more focused on ensemble playing; closer to the traditional East Coast big band sound.
This can be attributed to the increasing reliance on arrangers to influence the band with their music. It suggested that Basie's ideal of a big band-sized group with the flexibility and spirit of his original Kansas City 8-piece was not to last. The musicologist Gunther Schuller has said that when Jo Jones left, he took some of the smooth, relaxed style of the band with him.
Replacements such as Sonny Payne , drummed much louder and raised the dynamic of the band to a "harder, more clamorous brass sound. Despite taking on soloists from the next generation such as Wardell Gray , Basie was forced to temporarily disband the group for a short period in , before dispersing again for two years in For these two years, Basie led a reduced band of between 6 and 9 people, featuring more new players such as Buddy Rich , Serge Chaloff and Buddy DeFranco.
The 'Second Testament' Basie reformed the jazz orchestra in for a series of tours, not only in the United States, but also in Europe in and Japan in All relied on contributions from arrangers, some of whom are now synonymous with the Basie band: Nastos wrote of the recording with Eckstine: The combination of Basie's sweet jazz and Eckstine's low-down blues sensibilities meshed well on this one-shot deal, a program mostly of downtrodden songs perfectly suited for the band and the man.
The sound of the band was now that of a tight ensemble: Whereas previously the emphasis had been on providing space for exemplary soloists such as Lester Young and Buck Clayton , now the focus had shifted to the arrangements, despite the presence of soloists such as trumpeter Thad Jones and saxophonist Frank Foster.
This orchestral style continues as the typical sound of the band up to the present day; which has been criticized by some musicologists. The current director is Scotty Barnhart. New recordings have continued to be released, for example Basie is Back which features new recordings of classic tunes from the Basie Orchestra's catalog, including "April in Paris" and even the band's early hit " One O'clock Jump ". The group also continues to produce collaborations with high-profile singers, such as Ray Charles in Ray Sings, Basie Swings also , and with arranger Allyn Ferguson on the album Swing Shift
With this band, then named The Barons of Rhythm, Basie brought the sound of the famous and highly competitive Kansas City " jam session " to club audiences, coupling extended improvised solos with riff -based accompaniments from the band. When music critic and record producer John Hammond heard the band on a radio broadcast, he sought them out and offered Basie the chance to expand the group to the standard piece big band line-up.
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