Tuesday, August 7, 2012

#17: Count Basie - The Atomic Mr. Basie (1957)

Count Basie was a musician, composer, and bandleader for 60 years from 1924 to 1984. While Basie may have been an innovator of using split tenor saxes, riffing with a big band, and putting more emphasis on the rhythm section it's hard for me to truly appreciate how big of steps this album had taken considering I've had the luxury of listening to so many musicians after him.

My favorite track on the album, the saxes have such a pointed, sweet sound to them. Throughout the album, however, the real strong point is the rhythm section. The comping is excellent and absolute freedom is given to the soloist. On the head, the counter melody provides a rich full sound that's very contrary to the melody.

Midnight Blue
Even with a big band it's necessary to take it down every once a while and let the piano do some sprinkles. The bass provides a wonderful place to build various melodies from throughout the piece. Even the drums while vacant for most of the song, pick the perfect times to bring it back in to help the horns really kick.

Li'l Darlin'
Such a luscious vibe from the rhythm section, the brushes mixed in with the warm tones of the bass provide cloud nine moments while the horns lull you to wherever they want to take you. The solo at 2:10 is particularly good with such a beautiful vibrato that really carries the track.

All in all, if you're a fan of jazz - you'll be a fan of this album. I enjoy jazz as much as the next musician, but I particularly enjoy it when it's live or when I can watch it. Also I felt the re-released 1994 version 'The Complete Atomic Basie' made the album drag on a little longer than it should. I realize they're bonus tracks but the original ending felt better to me. I enjoyed listening to it while it was in the background but struggled to listen to it as a focal point. While it's a very well done album and there's no doubting it's historical significance... it simply fails to get me going all these years later.

This album was chosen from the book '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' 9/1001

Tomorrow's album: Norah Jones' Not Too Late.

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