Album Reviews

A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! by The Count Basie Orchestra

A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! by The Count Basie Orchestra

The Count Basie Orchestra is a 16 to 18 piece big band. William “Count Basie” (1904-1984) started his orchestra in Kansas City in 1935, and proceeded to develop and maintain one of the greatest jazz orchestras in music history, and in 2015 for their 80th anniversary they released their first Christmas album.

A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! Is the name of the album, and it was released in November 2015, by Concord Jazz label. There are 11 songs, and everyone of them brings the Christmas spirit to us.

The first song that is familiar to 99% of the people around the world is Jingle Bells. It’s a fresh new jazzy twist on standard Jingle Bells song. The album’s best solo comes on a heart breaking wistful Silent Night, where saxophonist Marshall McDonald’s soft statement evokes Ben Webster and Lester Young. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas brings Mr. Basie’s last vocalist to the mic. Carmen Bradford was with the band before and after Mr. Basie passed. She is one of the remaining links of the orchestras real identity . She is also one of the finest vocalists in jazz.61H1szmxnuL
Let It Snow has Ellis Marsallis who under-plays piano. Trumpeter Kris Johnson did a really nice and easy swinging chart on this. Mr. Johnson also takes a solo and elicits shades of predicessor Harry “Sweets” Edison with his smooth, buttery choice of notes. Guest artists include pianist Ellis Marsalis ,who makes sterling appearances on “Let It Snow” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas; Johnny Mathis returning to his jazz roots on Kay Thompson’s “The Holiday Season”; vocalist Ledisi on “The Christmas Song”; tenor saxist Plas Johnson and Basie alumna Carmen Bradford on Foster’s chart of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. I’ll be Home For Christmas is a fine ending for a road band album.

A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! Is smooth relaxing, perfect not only for Christmas time, but for the years to come.

Milena Staniskovska

January 3rd, 2016

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