Personnel: Count Basie (piano); Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes (vocals); Eddie Durham (arranger, electric guitar, trombone); Caughey Roberts, Earl Warren (alto saxophone); Lester Young, Hershel Evans (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Chu Berry (tenor saxophone); Jack Washington (baritone & alto saxophone); Buck Clayton, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Shad Collins, Joe Keyes, Carl Smith, Ed Lewis, Bobby Moore, Karl George (trumpet); Dan Minor, Dicky Wells, Bennie Morton, George Hunt, (trombone); Freddie Greene, Claude Williams (acoustic rhythm guitar); Walter Page (acoustic bass); Jo Jones (drums).
Recorded in New York between 1937-1939. The dates for the individual sessions are: January 21, 1937; March 26, 1937; July 7, 1937; August 9, 1937; October 13, 1937; January 3, 1938; February 16, 1938; June 6, 1938; August 22, 1938; November 9, 1938; November 16, 1938; January 5, 1939; Januray 26, 1939; February 2-4, 1939. COUNT BASIE: THE COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS comes with a 32-page booklet, featuring biographical and discographical information, a track-by-track breakdown of solos, and liner notes by Orrin Keepnews and Steven Lasker.
Personnel: Count Basie (piano); Helen Humes, Jimmy Rushing (vocals); Eddie Durham (guitar, trombone); Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Freddie Green (guitar); Herschel Evans, Lester Young (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Jack Washington (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Caughey Roberts (alto saxophone); Chu Berry (tenor saxophone); Joe Keyes, Ed Lewis, Bob Moore , Karl George, Shad Collins, Buck Clayton (trumpet); Dicky Wells, George Hunt, Benny Morton, Dan Minor (trombone); Jo Jones (drums).
Recording information: ??/??/1937-02/04/1939.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Harry "Sweets" Edison ; Helen Humes; Herschel Evans; Jimmy Rushing.
Arrangers: Count Basie; Don Kirkpatrick; Don Redman; Eddie Durham; Fletcher Henderson; Alex Gibson; Buck Clayton; Buster Smith .
COUNT BASIE: THE COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS is among the most compelling reissues to emerge from GRP's "The Legendary Masters Of Jazz" series--a vital component in any jazz collection. When it comes to that most elusive of jazz metaphors, swing, Count Basie wrote the book, and here for the first time, the complete Decca recordings are presented in the exact chronological order in which they were recorded.
Basie's big band was very much an extension of his piano style, deeply rooted in stride and blues. On a piano feature like "Red Wagon" the sense of notes not played is every bit as strong as those Basie articulates, as Basie edits away all the extraneous elements and zeroes in on only the prettiest most swinging notes. Which is what made big band arrangements like "Swinging At The Daisy Chain," "John's Idea," "Jumpin' At The Woodside" and "One O'Clock Jump" so popular among dancers.
Then there was Basie's famous "All-American Rhythm Section," which matched Basie's coy restraint with an uncanny cruise control of its own. They took the strong beat (1 & 3) and weak beat (2 & 4) accents of previous generations, and conjured up a modern 1-2-3-4 groove centered in Freddie Greene's insistent four-to-the-bar strumming, Walter Page's big earthy beat and Jo Jones' magical hi-hat pulse and uncanny accents. When the brass and reed sections dropped away to let the rhythm section stroll, this was something completely new in jazz.
Finally there were the legendary soloists, each man a section unto himself. Lester "Prez" Young brought a new lightness of tone, an advanced harmonic conception, and a floating behind-the-beat groove to the tenor saxophone (dig his lyrical alchemy on "Out The Window" and "Cherokee"), changing our conception of that instrument forever. Then there was his stylistic foil, tenor man Hershel Evans, with his huge, burnished on-the-beat Coleman Hawkins style (hear him swing for dear life on "Topsy" and `battle' Young on "Time Out"). And there were the great trumpeters, cup-mute bluesman Buck Clayton and the slyly lyrical Harry "Sweets" Edison, and the inimitable vocalist "Little" Jimmy Rushing. All in all, COUNT BASIE: THE COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS is a definitive statement on the sound of joy that is jazz.
Down Beat (11/92, p.51) - 5 Stars - Excellent - "...It's hard to imagine a more important reissue for this year or any other...Here is the old testament of the first Basie band (1937-1939)...never has completeness been so completely satisfying...[these sides] travel effortlessly across time on the wings of an astounding rhythm section..."
Musician (7/92, p.100) - "...Here's the root of all that is good in American music...this music defined swing, as the soloists--Harry "Sweets" Edison, Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Basie, Herschel Evans and Jimmy Rushing--defined their individual instruments..."
Jazziz (Dec.-Jan./92, p.94) - Picked by critic Leonard Feather as one of the 10 best jazz albums of 1992.