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Count Basie Orchestra: High Voltage

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

When in January, 1970 Count Basie entered the studio with his 17-piece big band to record "High Voltage", he ushered in the last full decade as bandleader of his Orchestra. The Orchestra had left it's imprint on the sixties by recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. There would be more great albums with star vocalists in the seventies, but the band's purely instrumental works, which had begun in 1965, would also continue. Back then Basie had engaged acclaimed Cuban composer/arranger Chico O'Farrill to arrange the music for such concept albums as "Basie Meets Bond" and "Basie's Beatle Bag", transforming them into crossover gems. On "High Voltage" O'Farrill demonstrates his affinity to Basie's big band sound, this time with a repertoire of standards. For this album, Basie specifically chose pieces the band had never recorded in their more than 30-year existence. This is saying something, since the band covers such an impressive span of jazz history, from the beginning of the swing era to the bop-influenced bands of the 50's on through to the present album. The Count's new drummer Harold Jones propels Fred Fisher's "Chicago" with a tremendous drive. The Rogers and Hart classic "Have You Met Miss Jones" features beguilingly dense deep-register horn lines and an almost languorous piano, and Eric Dixon's tasty flute solo spices up "The Lady Is A Tramp". With its smoky sophistication, Eddie Lockjaw Davis' Tenor dominates "Bewitched", whereas guest trumpeter Joe Newman's muted tongue-in-cheek solo highlights "Day In Day Out". Of course, Basie himself also steps forward: for instance, on the Fats Waller-like intro to "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", and with the playful grace notes on "If I Were A Bell"." Reminiscent of the Las Vegas shows the band performed with Frank Sinatra, "Get Me To The Church On Time" is also a masterful dialogue between the horn sections

When in January, 1970 Count Basie entered the studio with his 17-piece big band to record "High Voltage", he ushered in the last full decade as bandleader of his Orchestra. The Orchestra had left it's imprint on the sixties by recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. There would be more great albums with star vocalists in the seventies, but the band's purely instrumental works, which had begun in 1965, would also continue. Back then Basie had engaged acclaimed Cuban composer/arranger Chico O'Farrill to arrange the music for such concept albums as "Basie Meets Bond" and "Basie's Beatle Bag", transforming them into crossover gems. On "High Voltage" O'Farrill demonstrates his affinity to Basie's big band sound, this time with a repertoire of standards. For this album, Basie specifically chose pieces the band had never recorded in their more than 30-year existence. This is saying something, since the band covers such an impressive span of jazz history, from the beginning of the swing era to the bop-influenced bands of the 50's on through to the present album. The Count's new drummer Harold Jones propels Fred Fisher's "Chicago" with a tremendous drive. The Rogers and Hart classic "Have You Met Miss Jones" features beguilingly dense deep-register horn lines and an almost languorous piano, and Eric Dixon's tasty flute solo spices up "The Lady Is A Tramp". With its smoky sophistication, Eddie Lockjaw Davis' Tenor dominates "Bewitched", whereas guest trumpeter Joe Newman's muted tongue-in-cheek solo highlights "Day In Day Out". Of course, Basie himself also steps forward: for instance, on the Fats Waller-like intro to "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", and with the playful grace notes on "If I Were A Bell"." Reminiscent of the Las Vegas shows the band performed with Frank Sinatra, "Get Me To The Church On Time" is also a masterful dialogue between the horn sections.



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