Count Basie & His Orchestra – The Atomic Mr. Basie (1958)

FrontCover1William James “Count” Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two “split” tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including the tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, the guitarist Freddie Green, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison, plunger trombonist Al Grey, and singers Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes, Thelma Carpenter, and Joe Williams.

The Atomic Mr. Basie (originally called Basie, also known as E=MC2 and reissued in 1994 as The Complete Atomic Basie) is a 1958 album by Count Basie and his orchestra. The album is one of Basie’s most famous and is critically acclaimed. Allmusic gave it 5 stars, reviewer Bruce Eder saying “it took Basie’s core audience and a lot of other people by surprise, as a bold, forward-looking statement within the context of a big-band recording.”[2] It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Will Fulford-Jones calling it “Basie’s last great record.” It was voted number 411 in the third edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000). According to Acclaimed Music, it is the 6th most critically acclaimed album of 1958, the 25th most acclaimed of the 1950s, and the 837th most acclaimed of all time, based on an aggregation of hundreds of critics’ lists from around the world.

The album won Best Jazz Performance, Group and Best Performance by a Dance Band awards at the 1st Annual Grammy Awards.(wikipedia)

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One of the reasons that some major labels love to license big chunks of their catalogs to smaller independent outfits for box set reissues is that they never know that those licensees will turn up in putting those sets together, and it all becomes fair game for the parent company. Thus, in 1994, a year after Mosaic unearthed five previously unissued tracks from the October 1957 sessions that yielded The Atomic Mr. Basie on Roulette, Capitol Records (which had acquired the Roulette library) issued this expanded version of the original album. The original 11 songs are here, remastered into proper mono (there was an impossible to listen to duophonic stereo master made at the time of release that was in circulation on LP for a time), along with five outtakes consisting of material written and arranged by Jimmy Mundy: the instrumentals “Silks and Satins,” “Sleepwalker’s Serenade” (two different takes), and “The Late Late Show” and a vocal version of the latter featuring Joe Williams.

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These were apparently part of a proposed Jimmy Mundy album that never got completed, and were forgotten; they fit in surprisingly well with the Neal Hefti arrangements comprised the original recording, and Joe Williams turns in some of the best work of his career on the vocal version of “The Late Late Show,” a sultry, richly intoned performance that positively seduces the listener, with the band blowing beautifully behind him. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Count Basie (piano)
Henry Coker (trombone)
Wendell Culley (trumpet)
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (reeds)
Frank Foster (reeds)
Charles Fowlkes (reeds)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Al Grey (trombone)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Thad Jones (trumpet)
Joe Newman (trumpet)
Sonny Payne (drums)
Benny Powell (trombone)
Marshal Royal (reeds)
Snooky Young (trumpet)
Frank Wess (reeds)

Arranged by Neal Hefti

Rare EP on Columbia Records:
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Tracklist:
01. Kid Grom Red Bank 2.42
02. Duet 4.12
03. After Supper 3.26
04. Flight Of The Foo Birds 3.24
05. Double-O 2.47
06. Teddy The Toad 3.19
07. Whirlybird 3.51
08. Midnite Blue 4.28
09. Splanky 3.37
10. Fantail 2.57
11. Li’l Darlin’ 4.50

All tracks written by Neal Hefti,
except 01. written by Count Basie & Neal Hefti

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CountBasie03William James “Count” Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984)

Alexis Korner – Sky High (1966)

FrontCover1Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, or simply Blues Incorporated, were an English blues band formed in London in 1961, led by Alexis Korner and including at various times Jack Bruce, Charlie Watts, Terry Cox, Davy Graham, Ginger Baker, Art Wood, Long John Baldry, Ronnie Jones, Danny Thompson, Graham Bond, Cyril Davies, Malcolm Cecil and Dick Heckstall-Smith.

Korner (1928–1984) was a member of Chris Barber’s Jazz Band in the 1950s, and met up with Cyril Davies (1932–1964) who shared his passion for American blues. In 1954 they teamed up as a duo, began playing blues in London jazz clubs, and opened their own club, the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, where they featured visiting bluesmen from America. The club embraced aspiring young musicians, including in its early days Charlie Watts, Long John Baldry, and Jack Bruce.

In 1961 Korner and Davies formed Blues Incorporated, the first amplified R&B band in Britain, and brought in singer Baldry (sometimes replaced by Art Wood), drummer Watts, bassist Bruce, and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. It was an informal band: its membership was intended to be fluid.

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On 17 March 1962, Korner and Davies established a regular “Rhythm and Blues Night” at the Ealing Jazz Club. This brought together many more fans of blues and R&B music including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Paul Jones, John Mayall, Zoot Money, and Jimmy Page, some of whom would occasionally sit in on Blues Incorporated performances. Watts left the group around this time to join the Rolling Stones and suggested Ginger Baker as his replacement.

From 3 May 1962, Blues Incorporated secured a Thursday-night residency at the Marquee Club, which brought them to the attention of record producer and promoter Jack Good who arranged a recording contract with Decca Records resulting in the LP R&B from the Marquee, released in late 1962. The album was actually recorded in the Decca studio and featured Baldry as lead singer with songs by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Witherspoon and Leroy Carr.

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Late in 1962 Davies disagreed with Korner’s intention to add a brass section to the band and turn more towards jazz than blues, so left to form his own group, the Cyril Davies All-Stars, and was replaced by Graham Bond. Blues Incorporated found a new residency at the Flamingo club but, shortly afterwards, Bond, Bruce and Baker left to form the Graham Bond Organisation.

Blues Incorporated concentrated on live work rather than recording and the group only released two singles on Parlophone, “I Need Your Loving” / “Please Please Please Please” (1964) and “Little Baby” / “Roberta” (1965). In 1964 they released the LPs At The Cavern and Red Hot From Alex, with American Herbie Goins as lead singer and Danny Thompson, later of Pentangle, on bass. By the time of the group’s last album Sky High (credited to Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated) in 1965, the group included Duffy Power on vocals. Korner dissolved the group in 1966. (wikipedia)

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Sky High was a typically uneven Alexis Korner album on several accounts. First, the sky-high level of talent among the backup musicians – including future Pentangle rhythm section Danny Thompson (bass) and Terry Cox (drums), as well as Duffy Power on harmonica – was not matched to universally high-caliber material. Too, while admirably eclectic, the array of styles on display – from down-n-dirty R&B to acoustic blues, out-there jazz, and almost traditional jazz blues – seemed to indicate as much directionless as adventurousness. There was, too, no getting around Korner’s severe limitations as a lead vocalist, a chore he undertook for five of the album’s fifteen tracks. Fortunately, first-class blues-rock vocalist Duffy Power took lead vocals on four of the other tracks, and for that reason alone, Sky High is a worthwhile release. “Long Black Train” (which Power and Korner co-wrote) is a genuine lost British R&B gem, and the very best track Korner cut in that style, with its ominously echoing guitar, pummeling rhythm, and Power-ful vocals and harmonica.

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Sadly, nothing else on the record comes close to matching it, though the album’s not without its merits. There are, to start with, those four other tracks with Power on lead vocal, which are respectable R&B, though none of them are nearly as good as “Long Black Train” (and one of them, “I’m So Glad (You’re Mine),” would be recorded by Power in a better version under his own name). There’s also a raucous cover of Charles Mingus’ “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” though this and other jazz instrumentals on the record (including a horn section) are so different from the Power-led cuts that they could easily be mistaken for the work of a different band. The numbers on which Korner takes lead vocals, however, make one wish he’d had the humility and wisdom to let Power be the lead singer for most of the LP, though Korner does okay with the nicely swinging jazz blues tune “River’s Invitation.” Too, the three Korner solo guitar instrumentals that end the album seem like slight afterthoughts. (Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Terry Cox (drums)
Alexis Korner (vocals, guitar)
Duffy Power (harmonica, vocals)
Chris Pyne (trombone)
Alan Skidmore (saxophone)
Danny Thompson (bass)

DuffyPowerTracklist:
01.Long Black Train (Korner/Power) 3.12
02. Rock Me (Jackson) 3.52
03. I’m So Glad (Powers) 2.51
04. Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting (Mingus) 3.56
05. Honesty (Baker) 5.05
06. Yellow Dog Blues (Handy) 3.40
07. Let The Good Times Roll (Moore/Theard) 2.16
08. Ooo-Wee Baby (Turner/Johnson) 2.19
09. River’s Invitation (Mayfield) 3.10
10. Money Honey (Stone) 2.56
11. Big Road Blues (Johnson) 2.40
12. Louise (Temple) 4.55
13. Floating (Korner) 3.00
14. Anchor 5 Miles (Korner) 1.30
15. Daph’s Dance (Korner) 1.27

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Alexis Andrew Nicholas Koerner (19 April 1928 – 1 January 1984)