Count Basie: 'Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings'

The cover of Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings

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MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: The worst part of doing the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library is having to fade out music like that. Hi, I'm Murray Horwitz, and that's one of the greatest ensembles in all of jazz — The Count Basie Orchestra of the 1950s. It accounts for half of the title of our latest entry into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library, Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings. Here's the other half:

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HORWITZ: So, here's the famous story. As the 1950s began, Count Basie was leading a septet. Economics had forced him to give up his renowned big band. A young singer in Chicago sat in with the septet, and sang a whole lot of blues. Basie remembered, and when he got his new big band together, he gave that singer a job, and got one of his first big hit records in years, "Everyday I Have the Blues."

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HORWITZ: There was a very close and wonderful relationship between Count Basie and Joe Williams — in fact, generally among all these musicians. And what musicians they were: trumpeters like Thad Jones and Joe Newman; saxophonists like Frank Wess, Marshall Royal, and Frank Foster; trombonists like Benny Powell; rhythm players like Freddie Green and Sonny Payne. It's a legitimate contender for the greatest big band of all time.

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HORWITZ: It's called Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings, and it's on the Verve label. The Basic Jazz Record Library is supported by NPR member stations and by the National Endowment for the Arts. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

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