Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Count Basie

William James Basie, better known as "Count" Basie was born on August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, NJ. He is credited as being one of the most important Jazz band leaders of his time, who led his popular Count Basie Orchestra for over 50 years. Notable musicians and singers who were under his direction included, Lester Young (sax), Hershel Evans (sax), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), and vocalists Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams (who played "Claire's" dad on The Cosby Show).

In 1935, while playing at the Reno Club late one night, having time to fill, the Count Basie Orchestra started improvising. Basie liked the piece and decided to name it "One O'clock Jump", which ended up being their signature tune.

Count Basie would go on to perform with other notable greats, such as, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, and a host of other notable Jazz greats. Basie also made television appearances and appeared in Cinderfella with Jerry Lewis (1960), and in Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles (1974), which he played his arrangement of "April In Paris".

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