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Count Basie: Readings

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


NOTE: All readings listed below are in the collection of the Institute of Jazz Studies.

Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie
Count Basie as told to Albert Murray; Introduction by Dan Morgenstern
New York: Random House, 1985
Basie’s life from his childhood in Red Bank in the 1920s to his world-wide renown as a bandleader is rendered by Murray in Basie’s own voice.

The World of Count Basie
Stanley Dance
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1980
Through interviews with the bandleader and sidemen and singers of the various Basie bands, Dance paints a composite portrait of the man and his music.

Count Basie: A Bio-Discography
Compiled by Chris Sheridan
New York: Greenwood Press, 1986
Sheridan’s amply annotated discography relates the Basie story from his first recording with Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra in October 1929 to a final unreleased session for Norman Granz in March 1984. Book also offers ample appendices containing bibliography, band’s itinerary, record listings, musicians and tune titles.

Count Basie and His Orchestra, Its Music and Its Musicians; with discography by Alun Morgan
Raymond Horricks
London, Gollancz, 1957
Horricks wrote the first draft of the history of the rough-riding orchestra that blew out of Kansas City in the late 1930s into Earley years of Basie's revival with the “New Testament” band.

Goin' to Kansas City
Nathan W. Pearson, Jr.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987
Interviews with such Kansas City figures as Count Basie, Eddie Durham, Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate, Gene Ramey and Buster Smith tell the story of the great bands and the city that brought them together.

Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture
Gerald Earley
New York: Ecco Press, 1989
An essay on Count Basie includes analyzing what Basie said and left unsaid in his 1984 autobiography.

Jazz Style: History and Analysis
Mark Gridley
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985
Author provides concise analysis of Basie bands over the years with listings of influential soloists.

The Jazz Makers
Edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff
New York: Rinehart, 1957
Shapiro essay provides concise, entertaining history of Basie band.

John Hammond on Record: An Autobiography
John Hammond with Irving Townsend
New York: Penguin Books, 1977
The producer/promoter whose musical associations ranged from Bessie Smith to Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan recounts the story of his life, including his role in bringing Count Basie to prominence.

Buck Clayton's Jazz World
Buck Clayton with Nancy Miller Elliott; discography compiled by Bob Weir
New York: Oxford University Press, 1986


The Night People: The Jazz Life of Dicky Wells
Dicky Wells as told to Stanley Dance
Revised edition. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
The Basie trombonist’s story in his own words.

Lester Young
Lewis Porter
Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985

A Lester Young Reader
Edited by Lewis Porter
Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991

You Just Fight for Your Life: The Story of Lester Young
Frank Büchmann-Møller, foreword by Lewis Porter
New York: Praeger, 1990

You Got to Be Original, Man!: The Music of Lester Young
Frank Büchmann-Møller; foreword by Lewis Porter
New York: Greenwood Press, 1990

The World of Duke Ellington
Stanley Dance
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970
Interviews include former Basie sidemen Paul Gonsalves, Clack Terry and Mitchell “Booty” Woods.

The World of Swing
Stanley Dance
New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1974
Former Basie sidemen Vic Dickenson, Benny Morton and Quentin Jackson recall their days with the band.

Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop, A History
Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix
New York: Oxford University Press (2005)
This history draws on over 300 oral history undertaken by Driggs beginning in the 1950s. Haddix, director of the Marr Sound Archives at University of Missouri, Kansas City, is also a historian of Kansas City jazz and longtime radio producer.

Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development
Gunther Schuller
New York: Oxford University Press, 1968
Schuller divides his Chapter “The Big Bands” to highlight developments in Southwestern jazz, which the author thought was a latecomer to jazz scholars for being out of the way of New York- and Chicago-based recording studios.

The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945
Gunther Schuller
New York: Oxford University Press, 1989
In a chapter on “The Quintessence of Swing,” Schuller discusses the Basie band’s style and personnel during its first great period.

The Big Bands
George T. Simon, foreword by Frank Sinatra
New York: Macmillan Co., 1971
Simon devotes a chapter to the first Basie band in this well-known survey of big band history.


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