Count Basie – Live From Birdland – 1956 – Past Daily Downbeat
Count Basie this weekend. Recorded for the NBC-Radio All-Star Parade Of Bands broadcast of February 6, 1956. Referred to by aficionados and collaborators as The Chairman of The Board, Basie was one of the few principle figures of the Big Band era to continue and flourish well into the 1970s. As a proving ground for some of the most notable figures of the Jazz and Jump-Blues genres, Basie maintained a popularity and following from both Jazz audiences and early Rock and R&B audiences. In fact, one of the regulars on Alan Freed‘s network program The Camel Rock n’ Roll Caravan in the mid-1950s was the Basie band. Of course, it baffled people that Basie would have such across-the-board appeal. But considering how innovative and progressive Basie was and how finely tuned the band was, it made perfect sense he would have broad appeal over the years.
This broadcast, one of several from his Winter stint at Birdland between February and March of 1956, features one of his biggest hits of the 50s; April In Paris. A standard written in 1932 by Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg for the long-forgotten Broadway musical Walk A Little Faster, it was given the Big Band treatment as early as 1933 by Freddy Martin. But in Basie’s hands it breathed new life in the 1950s and became synonymous with him for decades after.
Count Basie was active all the way into the 1980s, as a small-group collaborator and also continuing his role as band leader, with steady changes in personnel. By the end of his life, in 1984, Count Basie had become a household name and a virtual institution, with a massive recorded legacy and a list of future-legends who worked with him going on for miles.
Crank it up and enjoy some swingin’ musical history.