Count Basie

Count Basie Live! 1938 at the Famous Door NYC

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The Basie band, with Harry James as the guest soloist and new arrival Harry Edison in the lineup, rocked New York's 52nd Street. The band is captured here in six late-night CBS broadcasts in the midst of its first big year of success, in an engagement that was supposed to last six weeks and ended up running four months, before an audience so taken with the group's sound that they willingly moved out onto the sidewalk while the group opened up to full volume for these broadcasts. There's hardly a note out of place, and the band shows its stuff behind renditions of "Jumping at the Woodside," "King Porter Stomp," and "One O'Clock Jump" (a killer finale) clocking in at between five and seven minutes with extended solos, double the length of their records of this era. Basie's piano gets some of the spotlight in a bracing version of "Lady Be Good." The fidelity is good to very good, and only "Everybody Loves My Baby" (a great number) is, alas, incomplete, a result of a transcription disc that was never found. That flaw aside, it is a release like this that transcends any of the criticism of the digital medium -- put simply, it's only the existence of digital audio and digital editing that permitted an engineer to remove more than 200 scratches per second from the original transcription discs that this CD came from.

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