Count Basie, The Atomic Mr. Basie

30 marzo 2009 | |

The release of this album in late 1957 marked the beginning of a glorious new phase in Count Basie's career. Signed to Roulette Records, the newly formed label owned by Morris Levy, the New York recording entrepreneur, jukebox mogul, club owner, and quasi-underworld figure, it took Basie's core audience and a lot of other people by surprise, as a bold, forward-looking statement within the context of a big-band recording - if not as daring as what Duke Ellington had done at Newport in 1956, still a reminder that there was room for fresh, even dazzling improvisation (especially courtesy of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis's contribution) within the framework of a big-band jazz unit. The original 11 songs are here, remastered into proper mono (there was an impossible to listen to duophonic stereo master made at the time of release that was in circulation on LP for a time), along with five outtakes consisting of material written and arranged by Jimmy Mundy: the instrumentals "Silks and Satins," "Sleepwalker's Serenade" (two different takes), and "The Late Late Show" and a vocal version of the latter featuring Joe Williams. These were apparently part of a proposed Jimmy Mundy album that never got completed, and were forgotten; they fit in surprisingly well with the Neal Hefti arrangements comprised the original recording, and Joe Williams turns in some of the best work of his career on the vocal version of "The Late Late Show," a sultry, richly intoned performance that positively seduces the listener, with the band blowing beautifully behind him.

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