One O'Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
By the mid-1930s, Count Basie had succeeded in establishing himself as a gifted soloist via his tenures with both Walter Page’s Blue Devils and Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra. Although he had assembled his own ensemble in 1934, it wasn’t until the following year, after Moten’s untimely death due to a poorly executed tonsillectomy, that Basie came into his own as a bandleader. Reconvening many of the musicians from Moten’s and Page’s acts — including saxophonist Lester Young, vocalist Jimmy Rushing, and bassist Page himself — Basie launched a new collective, and with its chemistry already well-established, the group immediately began to reshape the field of popular music. Compiling 14 tracks that were recorded between 1936 and 1942, One O’Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie effectively chronicles the pianist’s meteoric rise by providing a focused and insightful overview of the early portion of his career. The set begins, not surprisingly, with his signature song One O’Clock Jump, which sounds as lively and vibrant as ever, though the rest of retrospective’s selections are equally strong. Throughout the endeavor, Basie’s piano accompaniments skip effortlessly across the surface of the hard-charging grooves, while the horns and saxophones take turns in breaking free from the pulsing cadences to flutter playfully about. Known for its furious, propulsive rhythms and economical, yet remarkably evocative solo flights, Basie’s outfit transforms each of the tunes on the effort into a riveting blues-based excursion. Though he achieved even greater recognition for his later work — including a slew of Top Ten pop and R&B hits as well as a handful of Grammy Awards and nominations — it’s here within the energetic refrains of One O’Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie that the giant footprint he made upon jazz was first impressed.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box