Thursday, August 20, 2009

Goin' to Kansas City

Count Basie's Kansas City Suite was one of the first big band records I bought when I was starting to listen to jazz. It was one-half of a two-record set on Roulette Records (Roulette RE-124) that also featured Easin' It. At the time (the early '70's),  Roulette was making a lot of their back catalog available as part of their Echoes of an Era series. Others that I picked up along the way included a set that provided my first exposure to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Putting this on the turntable for the first time in probably 30 years really brought back the rush that I felt when I was discovering jazz. I knew that Count Basie was a big name, but I didn't know where to begin when I bought the album. Even with my limited knowledge at the time, I knew when I got it home and saw the recording date was 1960 that it wasn't from the golden era of the  big bands. Regardless, Kansas City Suite is classic, bluesy Basie. The Suite was composed and arranged by Benny Carter, who never actually played with the band. The ten tracks have a vaguely familiar feel now that I've listened to a lot of jazz, but the writing and playing are top-notch. This edition of the Orchestra included Snooky Young, Thad Jones, Marshall Royal, Frank Wess, Frank Foster and of course Freddie Green.

Listening to this as a teenager transported me to New York, to a mysterious world that I was just discovering and imagining. It was a nice way to spend part of an afternoon getting acquainted with it again.

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