Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Count Basie with his orchestra

His mother taught him how to play piano while taking in wash for a living in Red Bank, New Jersey — and Fats Waller would help out with some music pointers years later — born in 1904 and gone by 1984, Basie ran his orchestras like a well-timed train for nearly 50 years. A man born in racism, as were many in his bands, never mind two world wars, depressions, economic crashes to eat your eyes out, Red Scare, McCarthy witch hunts, the jitterbug, fox-trot, congas, the fading of swing and the up-step of be-bop, and all Basie ever wanted was for his audience "to get the beat." Turn it up. The walls of the houses and trees or neighborhoods should shake.