William Count Basie



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William “Count” Basie was a famous pianist, composer, arranger, and band leader. He was one of the biggest influences of the swing era with his big band style. Basie was respected as much by musicians as audiences. He learned to play piano from his mother as a child. He later ventured away from home to study along fats Waller a student of Harlem Stride School. He made his professional debut as an accompanist for vaudeville acts and replaced Waller in an act called Katie Crippen and her Kids. He toured on the Toba vaudeville circuits as a solo pianist, and music director for singers and dancers.

He also worked with June Clark and Sonny Greer who was later to become Duke Ellington’s drummer. He was a part of Walter Pages’s Blue Devils in 1928 but left in 1929 to join Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra. Moten suddenly passed in 1935 and the group slowly dissipated and Basie started a smaller group of nine musicians which performed at the Reno club in Kansas City. This lead to them being heard by producer John Hammond who got them with Decca Records where the then known as the Count Basie Orchestra recorded their first big hit “One O’Clock Jump” in September 1937.

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His band recorded “ Jumpin at the Woodside” in 1938 one of Basie’s original compositions which got them broadcasted on CBS. In 1939 the band switched labels to Columbia Records and headed west to do movies but the band lost fame in the 1940’s and Basie broke the group up towards the end of 40’s which led to him having small groups for years. Basie slowly collected more musicians to join his new big band the “New Testament Band”. Basie resurrected his fame with the hit “Every Day I Have the Blues” featuring vocalist Joe Williams.

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