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Count Basie

Guide about Count Basie with biography, annotated listing of recordings, videos, readings, interviews, oral histories, and websites.


NOTE: All videos listed below, except two items marked with an *, are in the collection of the Institute of Jazz Studies.

The Last of the Blue Devils: The Movie About Kansas City Jazz
Directed and produced by Bruce Ricker
New York: Rhapsody Films, 1990
This 1979 documentary focuses on a visit by Basie and his band to his old haunt and features many K.C. veterans, Joe Turner (voc) and Jay McShann (p, bandleader), and the band in performance.

Count Basie Reminisces
Directed by Robert N. Zagone; produced by Ralph J. Gleason
Jazz Casual Productions, Inc.; Rhino Home Videos, 1995
Originally broadcast May 6, 1968 on KQED, educational television, the program features an interview and performance by Count Basie, hosted by Gleason.

Swingin’ the Blues
Directed by Matthew Seig; written by Albert Murray; produced by Toby Byron and Richard Saylor
BMG Video, 1992
A group of Basie alumni including Harry Edison (tp), Illinois Jacquet (ts), Buddy Tate (ts), Earle Warren (ts) and Joe Williams (voc) are brought together for a round-table reminiscence. Basie himself appears in revealing interview clips from various stages of his life. There is also vintage performance footage.

Born to Swing: The Movie About the Alumni of the Count Basie Band of 1943
Produced, directed and edited by John Jeremy
Rhapsody Films, 1992
This film made in 1972 recaptures the joy of the swing era in general and the delights of the Basie band in particular. It celebrates alumni Eddie Durham (el-g, tb, arr), Dicky Wells (tb), Buck Clayton (tp), Buddy Tate (ts), Earle Warren (ts) and Jo Jones (d), joined by Snub Mosley (tb), Gene Krupa (d), Andy Kirk (sax, tub) and record producer and talent scout John Hammond.

The Count Basie Orchestra: Live in Sweden ‘62
Released by Jazz Icons, 2006
This 60-minute concert documenting “the most explosive force in jazz,” is the Earliest known complete concert of the Basie band released on DVD, and features three vocals by Irene Reid.

* Oscar Peterson and Count Basie: Together in Concert, 1974
Impro-Jazz Spain, 2009
This concert features sets by a Peterson small group and the Basie band. The pairing of the two pianists in a series of duets is highlighted by the exquisite interplay in “Royal Garden Blues.”

* Blazing Saddles
Written and directed by Mel Brooks; co-written by Richard Pryor
Produced by Michael Hertzberg
Count Basie and his Orchestra play “April in Paris” in the middle of the desert in a memorable cameo appearance in Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Western parody.

Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux Presents Count Basie Jam '75
Eagle Rock 39055-9r
Count Basie whoops its up Roy Eldridge, Johnny Griffin, Milt Jackson, Niels Pedersen and Louie Bellson.

Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux Presents Count Basie Big Band '77
Eagle Rock 39062-9
Basie could easily slip into the role of playing in small groups, but he was at heart a bandleader. This video shows that the band went for broke in the last decade of Basie's life.

Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux Presents The Perfect Match: Ella & Basie'79
Eagle Rock 39057-9 The Montreux concert is a snapshot of the musical relationship that had built up between Ella and Basie since the late 1930s. This dynamic duo was then touring frequently under the aegis of Pablo Records, often with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass in tow.

Count Basie at Carnegie Hall, 1981
Kultur, 2003
The Basie Orchestra with Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett and George Benson, March 20, 1981.

Count Basie: Then and Now. Count’s the King
Directed by Gary Keys, 2008
This hour-long documentary presents the band performing some of its performing hits, with a roundtable discussion including Joe Wilder (tp), Frank Wess (ts, fl), critic/historian Ira Gitler, Frank Foster (ts, arr, com), Benny Powell (tb) and George Lewis, recorded at Elaine’s Restaurant in New York.


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