Count Basie was undoubtedly one of the most influential bandleaders in jazz history. It seems only logical then that saxophonist Bob Mintzer (who has dedicated most of his career to big-band music) would sooner or later record a tribute to the great father of swing. Joined by many of the top New York City-based jazz players including Pete Yellin on reeds, Scott Wendholt on trumpet, Phil Markowitz on piano, Dennis Irwin on bass, and John Riley on drums, Mintzer and group create a touching homage to the Count.
We hear five tunes commonly associated with Basie on this disc. Among them are smart versions of "Cute," "April in Paris," and "Shiny Stockings." In addition, we are treated to three compositions by Mintzer himself, each reflecting the Basie style in one way or another. As a modernist, Mintzer adds a contemporary flair to otherwise classic swing charts such as "Lil' Darling" and "One O'Clock Jump," but it's the spirit of the music, not the harmonic vocabulary, that really matters here. For Basie, the key ingredient was always swing. Thankfully, Mintzer's music and ensemble live up to that great Basie reputation by swinging these charts just right.