Count Basie is easily one of my all-time favorite big band swing artists. One of the first swing CD Box Sets I ever purchased was The Complete Decca Recordings, and oh man, it was so worth it every penny. I picked up the box set right around the time I was delving into practicing my fast swingouts and the 3-CD set provided ample music to work up a sweat. The tracks included are some of Basie’s earlier recordings, what is often called “Old Testament” Basie, which you can identify not only by the old-style recording sound quality, but also by the staccato and jankier feel of the music. Later “New Testament” recordings tend to have what I like to call a smoother and more buttery sound.
The Wikipedia claims that Basie’s signature tracks are the One O’Clock Jump and April in Paris, but my guess is that is from a listening standpoint. Any real lindy hopper knows that Basie’s real anthem of swing is….piano roll please: Jumpin’ at the Woodside!
Some of my other fast lindy favorites in no particular order from the Decca Recordings are:
- Swingin’ the Blues
- Shorty George
- Doggin’ Around
- Every Tub
- Honeysuckle Rose
- Exactly Like You
- Swingin’ at the Daisy Chain
- John’s Idea
And if you prefer a more mid-tempo sound, here are my recommended tracks:
- Boogie Woogie (I may be wrong)
- Pennies from Heaven
- One O’Clock Jump
- Sent for You Yesterday
…really though, the entire set is awesome, so I would heartily recommend purchasing the whole box set instead of individual tracks. The Amazon.com links above are for purchasing the physical 3-CD Set vs. the equivalent MP3 Album. If you’re interested in music history, then you’ll want the former…since it’s got great liner notes to read.
From the Wikipedia:
William “Count” Basie (March 24, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Widely regarded as one of the most important jazz bandleaders of his time, Basie led his popular Count Basie Orchestra for almost 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Basie’s theme songs were “One O’Clock Jump” and “April In Paris“.