Legendary jazz orchestra continues to be relevant 30 years after the death of its namesake Count Basie
VISALIA – In the history of jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world more than 30 years after his passing.
Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. His Count Basie Orchestra helped define the big-band sound of the 1930s and ’40s with notable songs such as “One O’Clock Jump,” which Basie composed himself, and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.” Basie’s captivating style of piano playing, swinging songwriting and inspired musical composition directed the most renowned African-American jazz groups of swing.
Some of the greatest soloists, composers, arrangers and vocalists in jazz history such as Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Sonny Payne, Freddie Green, Snooky Young, Frank Wess, and Joe Williams, became international stars once they began working with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. In the 1960s and ’70s Basie recorded with musical greats Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Wilson and Dizzy Gillespie. He earned nine Grammy Awards during his career and was the first African-American man to win a Grammy in 1958.
The 18-member orchestra is still continuing the excellent history started by Basie of stomping and shouting the blues, as well as refining those musical particulars that allow for the deepest and most moving of swing.
Today, the Count Basie Orchestra is directed by Scotty Barnhart and has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, performed for Kings, Queens, and other world Royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honors are the 2018 Downbeat Readers Poll Award as the No. 1 Jazz Orchestra in the world, and a Grammy Nomination for their 2018 acclaimed recording, “All About That Basie,” which features special guests Stevie Wonder, Jon Faddis, Take 6, and Kurt Elling among others.
It followed their critically acclaimed release of “A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!” in 2015, the very first holiday album in the 80-year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to #1 on the Jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalists Johnny Mathis, Ledisi, our own Carmen Bradford and pianist Ellis Marsalis. A full-length documentary on Mr. Basie and the orchestra was completed by the BBC Television Network and is slated for worldwide release in 2019 or 2020, which will then be the orchestra’s 85th Anniversary.
You can catch the legendary jazz orchestra on Oct. 11 at the Visalia Fox Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with showtime at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $61 and can be purchased at www.foxvisalia.org or at the theatre’s box office, located at 300 W. Main St. in Visalia. For more information, call 559-625-1369 or email [email protected].