Count Basie and His Orchestra – America Dances – CBS – July 9, 1938 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The incomparable Count Basie and his Orchestra to help slide into this Holiday weekend. Broadcast on July 9, 1938 from the CBS series America Dances and broadcast via shortwave to The BBC in London. Further evidence of the popularity of the new technology (shortwave broadcasting) and further evidence that Big Band Jazz was making its presence known outside the Continental U.S. and spreading rapidly worldwide. America may have been dancing, but the world was swinging along with us.
At the start of the show, the announcer gives news of an upcoming gig at a Manhattan club as well as letting us know who is in the band on this broadcast. It is a virtual who’s who of names who became legends in their own right; names who went on to lay the groundwork for the evolution of Jazz from Dance Music to an enduring form of American expression that manifested itself in Be-Bop and the emergence of small-combo Jazz after world War 2. Not to mention, by way of Helen Humes and Jimmy Rushing, the evolution of Jump Blues, which in turn laid the groundwork for Rock n’ Roll. A lot of milestones coming from one band. But Count Basie’s legacy is one of evolution – of trying, adapting, wood-shedding and exploring.
All this by way of saying that Count Basie during just about any period is a period worth exploring to find his imprint. We can go here (1938), we can head into the dawn of Bop and Jump Blues (1945-1950s), we can stop off at his stint as house band for Alan Freed’s Rock N’ Roll Caravan (1955) – we can examine his collaborations with Quincy Jones or his stints with Frank Sinatra and find the Count just about everywhere.
Needless to say, if you aren’t a fan of all of these forms – stick around, there’s always more to discover. With a legend like Count Basie, you really do need to keep your ears and your mind open as you go exploring.
Hit the play button and enjoy – sound is a little funky in places – but it’s the message that matters, and it’s loud and clear.