Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Count Basie....The Complete Atomic Basie..Classic Album Expanded and Remastered

Bristling with excitement and electricity, this 1958 album represents the finest accomplishment of Count Basie's "New Testament" big band. His "Old Testament" band of the late 1930s, featuring stars Lester Young, Herschel Evans, Dickie Wells, and Buck Clayton, perfected the blues-drenched, straight 4/4 rhythm of Kansas City swing. Building on the blues foundation, this 1950s band features more ambitious compositions and a more dynamic sound and incorporates more modern developments. One constant, however, is the anchoring rhythm guitar of Freddie Green. 

As always, Basie can dig deeply into robust stride statements or choose each note as if he had to pay for them separately. Neal Hefti, the primary composer and arranger here, marvelously captures the strengths of each individual musician. His arrangements sparkle exuberantly on the up tunes and create vivid and exotic moods on the slower ones; clever and innovative without ever being overblown. Beefy tenor Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, who was only in the band for a relatively short period, offers the most valuable and vital solo contributions, recalling Ben Webster's tenderness at times, squeaking and honking like an R'n'B man at others. --Marc