Wednesday, May 10, 2006

9. Count Basie - The Atomic Mr. Basie (1957)

Track Listing

1. Kid From Red Bank
2. Duet
3. After Supper
4. Flight Of The Foo Birds
5. Double O
6. Teddy The Toad
7. Whirly Bird
8. Midnite Blue
9. Splanky
10. Fantail
11. Li'l Darlin'


Holy Swing Batman! Count Basie is back in great shape after a big drop when the whole of Swing stopped being popular. But now, with the addition of Neal Hefti doing the arrangements he came back with a vengance. Unfortunately this would be his last good album, from here on he went on to do collaborations, as the grandaddy that he was, ending up in a depressing Pavarotti like status. Once a great artist... as Jack Black would say about Stevie Wonder in High Fidelity, "is it better to burn out than to fade away?".

Well, not taking into account his later mistakes, (many including Miles Davis and Nina Simone had the same fate), this is an astounding piece of work. Foot tapping, dance music all the way, even the more depressing bits have a swing to it. Curiously the two best tracks here are the first and last, which are also the fastest and slowest of them all, so Basie was at ease in both styles.

The piano playing in Kid From Red Bank is great, as it is throughout the album. If you compare it to the also great Duke Ellington, although they are palying in different Jazz idioms, the Basie album benefits from the shortness of the tracks as well as from the shortness of the whole album, when compared to Live at Newport some reviews back. Basie is, on the other hand, a much more "easy-listening" and less innovative performer, and unlike Ellington was not a consumate composer himself, but an amazing player.

Basically it is not earth-shattering, but it is indeed a very enjoyable album, and is available for streaming on Napster.

Or buy it at Amazon: UK or US

Track Highlights

1. Kid From Red Bank
2. Lil' Darlin'
3. Flight of the Foo Birds
4. Whirly Bird

Final Grade



He was not really a Count

Neal Hefti went on to do the Batman theme... Da na na na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!

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