Basie Rhythm

Basie Rhythm

by Harry JamesHarry James


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This is a most unusual collection, with its share of surprises amid some considerable overlap with GRP's Complete Decca Recordings. The first four tracks consist of the four small-group sides that Basie cut clandestinely with producer John Hammond in November of 1936. Those are attractive enough as a showcase for Lester Young, whose playing is humbling to listen to even for non-sax players, and Basie is quite impressive as well. Those tracks don't appear in one place on any legitimate release. But it's the next eight tracks that are really interesting, and unique -- John Hammond lost out on his ability to record Basie and his band for Columbia between 1937 and 1939, but he used the Basie band sans Basie (with Jess Stacy) to back up 21-year-old Harry James in his first formal recording sessions under his own name. And even without the Count present, it all comes out sounding a lot like a Basie recording, with a few twists -- in place of tenorman Lester Young, the featured soloist is Herschel Evans, a beloved reedman who premature death (from heart trouble) in 1939 robbed Basie and his band of one of their key members; Evans and James, who plays better here than he did on many of his later sides, make these sides exciting and genuinely rewarding. Helen Humes was brought in by Hammond as a singer on "Jubilee," "The Dreamer In Me," and "Song of the Wanderer," and she later joined the Basie band. The most unusual of the numbers here is an abbreviated version of "One O'Clock Jump," featuring Evans' sax, Vernon Brown's trombone, and James' trumpet soaring above the rock-solid Basie rhythm section. The rest of the CD is filled out by the standard Count Basie Decca recordings of "Cherokee Pts. 1 and 2," "Sing for Your Supper," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," "Jive at Five," etc., with Humes, Jimmy Rushing, and Basie band stalwarts Ed Lewis, Dicky Wells, Shad Collins, and Lester Young in various featured spots. The sound is impeccable throughout, and the annotation is thorough.

Product Details

Release Date: 12/07/1995
Label: Hep Records
UPC: 0603366103226
catalogNumber: 1032

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