2:41pm

Mon September 27, 2004
Columns

JAZZ89 TO BROADCAST COUNT BASIE AND BEYOND

Listen to this 8-week series on Jazz Profiles with Nancy Wilson Sundays at 5pm through November 21.

JAZZ89 is excited to be airing a special Jazz Profiles eight week series featuring Count Basie October 3rd - November 21st. Count Basie and Beyond will take listeners on an audio journey beginning with Basie?s early years and ending with testimonials of how his influence is still thriving in his centennial year. Jazz Profiles with Nancy Wilson can be heard on WMOT-JAZZ89.5 FM Sunday evenings at 5 PM.

Weeks one through three focus on ?The Man and His Music.? The first installment on October 3rd traces Basie?s early years; his childhood, his pilgrimage to Harlem ? the home of the stride piano ? his relationship with Thomas ?Fats? Waller, and his early life as a traveling musician with Katie Krippen and her Kitties, Walter Page, and the Blue Devils, and Jimmy Rushing. Part one ends with Basie?s arrival in Kansas City and his encounter with the Benny Moten Band.

The story picks up on October 10th with the death of Benny Moten and the genesis of Count Basie?s First band at the Reno Club in Kansas City. Broadcasts on experimental station W9XBY bring Lester Young and others to Kansas City to see the band they had heard on the radio. Thanks to the addition of Young and the All-American rhythm section, the Basie band bursts on to the national scene. Basie comes to New York with an uncertain reception and then breaks through with his first record contract with Decca. This installment covers a period that marks both the pinnacle of success for Basie?s Kansas City style and also some setbacks, including the death of tenor man Herschel Evans, the recording ban of the early 1940s, and the advent of World War II.

October17th?s installment describes the beginning of a new era for Basie. Notwithstanding their earlier success, Basie?s band was not immune to

the post-WW II collapse of the swing bands. Basie muddles through with a small group until his early-?50s reunion with promoter Norman Granz which sets the stage for Basie?s ?New Testament? band. The ?50s prove to be grand for Basie as singer Joe Williams comes aboard and they hit the charts with ?Every Day I Have the Blues.? With Williams, Basie was back on the top of the world. His subsequent collaborations with Frank Sinatra at the Sands in Las Vegas only add to his celebrity status. The story concludes with the chronicle of another reunion with Norman Granz ? one that leads to the famous ?piano battle? with Oscar Peterson.

Weeks four and five, October 24th and 31st, are devoted to ?The Singers.? Throughout its history, the Basie ?swing machine? attracted some of the most renowned popular and jazz singers. On these programs, author Will Friedwald and historians Dan Morgenstern and Albert Murray take a first look at some of the voices associated with Basie, including Jimmy Rushing, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Joe Turner, Helen Humes, and others.

Week six on November 7th describes ?The Kansas City Years.? It was in Kansas City that Bill Basie became the Count ? and this installment of the Basie story tells why. Tom Pendergast?s Kansas City was a wide open town that attracted musicians from as far east as New York and as far west as Los Angeles. According to Claude ?Fiddler? Williams, ?If you had the Kansas City style, you had it made.? Basie had been in Kansas City in the mid-?20s with Katie Krippen, but it was in Oklahoma City that he heard a sound that would lead to the birth of his first band. That group would feature drummer Jo Jones, saxophonist Lester Young and bassist Walter Page, and it would take up residence at the Reno Club, where broadcasts on W9XBY helped to project (and promote) the band?s image across the country.

Week seven on November 14th looks into ?Count Basie?s World.? As a teenager in Red Bank, New Jersey, William James ?Count? Basie?s eagerness to play music took him from his childhood home to New York. Throughout his life, he would return to New York, and the Big Apple would pave the way for his entrance onto the world stage. This program examines the men and the music behind the glory days of Basie?s ?New Testament? band under the guidance of producer Norman Granz.

Week eight, airing November 21st, wraps up the series with an installment on how ?The Legend Continues.? Count Basie?s influence is alive and well in 2004, his centennial year. Some twenty years after his death, a band bearing his name still keeps a lively performance schedule. This program visits with members of the current band and travels to Basie?s alma mater ? the Red Bank Middle School ? to hear from 12 and 13-year-olds who celebrate the ?Kid from Red Bank.? Composer, musician, and educator Felix Mosler is featured, who is responsible for the naming of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank; as well as Monk Rowe, director of the Hamilton College Jazz Archives, home of a trove of Basie material; and Basie band musicians and collaborators Frank Foster, Oscar Peterson, Louis Bellson, and the late Illinois Jacquet.

Count Basie and Beyond is a featured series of National Public Radio?s Jazz Profiles. NPR?s Jazz Profiles, radio?s first and only jazz documentary series, is hosted by Nancy Wilson. Wilson is not only a vocalist, but she is indeed an all-around performer. With sixty albums under her belt, this Emmy and Grammy Award winner continues to tour and record.

WMOT ? JAZZ89 is the non-profit, non-commercial, public broadcasting station of Middle Tennessee State University, broadcasting at 89.5 on the FM dial. More information on WMOT is available at www.wmot.org. Additional information on National Public Radio is available at www.npr.org.