City : Bethesda
Venue : Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club
Address : 7719 Wisconsin Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814
Time : 8:00pm
The Basie Orchestra is one of the most thriving big bands in history With 17 Grammy awards, our musicians have grown up with the Kansas City Swing style of Count Basie and add their own voice to the band. With 19 performers, 17 sidemen, 1 vocalist, and 1 bandleader, we’ve become the premier jazz band.
The Count Basie Orchestra can be viewed between 1935 and 1955 as the Old Testament and New Testament bands. The Old Testament band’s style was a combination of spontaneously developed riff-driven, or “head” arrangements, full of the blues and relaxed, but intense swing that showcased a some of the greatest names in Jazz history in Lester Young, Hershel Evans, Harry Edison, Buck Clayton, Dicky Wells, Jo Jones, Freddie Green and Jimmy Rushing among others.
The “New Testament” Count Basie Orchestra was formed circa 1952 after Basie’s brief hiatus from the full orchestra as he was working with a small group of six to seven pieces during the industry imposed recording ban that began in 1948. With the April In Paris recording in 1955, the orchestra began to set standards of musical achievement that have been emulated by every jazz orchestra since that time. The sound of the orchestra was constantly deepening and getting more precise as each series of non-stop tours were completed. One of the things that set Mr. Basie’s orchestra apart from all others and is one of the secrets to it’s longevity, is the fact the Basie allowed and actually encouraged his musicians to compose and arrange especially for the orchestra and it’s distinctive soloists such as Snooky Young, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, and Frank Wess on flute, who recorded the very first jazz flute solo in history. Eddie Durham, Thad Jones, Ernie Wilkins, Quincy Jones, Neal Hefti, Sammy Nestico, and Frank Foster, to name a few of the more prominent Basie arrangers, have added volumes to the Basie Library. Through them, the Basie repertoire continued to broaden harmonically and rhythmically, making it more than hospitable to the talents of the successive generations of musicians. The orchestra also began to become the first choice for the top jazz vocalists of the day including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and of course, Basie’s “Number One Son”, the great Joe Williams.
Since Basie’s passing in 1984, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes, Dennis Mackrel, and now Scotty Barnhart, have led the Count Basie Orchestra and maintained it as one of the elite performing organizations in Jazz.
Current members include musicians hired by Basie himself: Frequent guest vocalist Carmen Bradford (joined in 1983), Clarence Banks (joined in 1984), as well as Mike Williams (1987, formerly w/Glenn Miller, NTSU 1 O’Clock), Doug Miller (1989, formerly w/Lionel Hampton), and members who have joined in the last 15-20 years: Trombonists David Keim (formerly w/Stan Kenton), Alvin Walker and Mark Williams, guitarist Will Matthews, baritone saxophonist Jay Branford, trumpeters Endre Rice, Kris Johnson and Alphonso Horne, saxophonists Marshall McDonald (formerly w/Lionel Hampton, PaquitoD’Rivera’s United Nations Jazz Orchestra), Doug Lawrence (formerly w/Benny Goodman, Buck Clayton), and Cleave Guyton (formerly w/Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington Orchestra), alternating pianists Bobby Floyd and Reginald Thomas, bassist Trevor Ware, and the youngest member at 23 years old, Ray Nelson, II on drums.