Count Basie on the BBC
My YouTube find of the weekend is this film of the Count Basie Orchestra in London in 1965. It’s a BBC production, and it’s first rate for audio, video, and the performance itself. As one wag put it, the BBC “justified its existence” with this presentation.
The set includes All of Me; Flight of the Foo Birds; The Midnight Sun Will Never Set; Blues for Aline; Jumpin’ at the Woodside; I Needs to Be Be’d With; April in Paris; Li’l Darlin’; Whirly Bird; and One O’Clock Jump.
Highlights include alto saxophonist Marshall Royal playing Quincy Jones’s Scandinavian-inspired “Midnight Sun;” the flamboyant, hard-charging Lockjaw Davis on “Woodside;” Al Grey’s plunger-muted trombone on another Q original, “I Needs,” which begins with an extended intro by Basie at the piano; a close-up of Freddie Green, aka Mr. Rhythm, plucking the strings of his guitar on “Li’l Darlin’,” the Neal Hefti classic that reportedly began as a medium tempo chart until Basie slowed it down to its perfect slow bounce; and an “April in Paris” that’s highlighted by a Phil Gilbeau trumpet solo which adroitly avoids the “Pop Goes the Weasel” lick patented by Thad Jones, and a coda that quotes “Jingle Bells.”
I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never tire of Basie, both his pianistics and his orchestra’s brand of swing, so this is one for the ages. Enjoy!